.* * *Many of us writers wrack our brains to think up new plots for our deathless prose. Forget it. It’s all been done. The best a modern writer can hope for is to put a new twist on a good old plot.
What 90's television sci-fi adventure series and fifties comedy series have the same plot structure? Give up? Gilligan’s Island and Star Trek Voyager are the two, though they are wildly different on the surface.
The Captain, Gilligan and a half dozen or so pleasure yacht passengers only expected to be on their trip through balmy waters for three hours. The one hundred eighty nine member crew, and their holographic doctor, on Voyager started a shakedown cruise in space. They thought they’d be among the stars for a few days at most. In both cases, an unexpected calamity extended their trips far longer than their expectations. Though probably the actors, writers, producers, etc were quite happy those trips lasted as long as they did.
Several books and columns on writing that I’ve read recently suggest taking a look at the classics for inspiration if you’re stuck on what to write about. The premise of star crossed lovers, such as Romeo and Juliet, is at the base of a lot of romance stories and novels. One of the most notable that comes to mind was printed over twenty years ago The Bridges of Madison County was, unexpectedly, a wildly popular tiny book. Though mostly we moderns like for the lovers to wind up still alive, and together, by the end of the book.
Sherlock Holmes would probably retire to a castle in the Highlands if he were a practicing detective these days. He might feel lost among the countless PI’s, former police detectives, caterers, and other women and men of various ages solving crimes in print.
Readers still love to read about fictional dark deeds of the gentry a la Lady Chatterley’s Lover. A writer’s imagination might have to work overtime to outdo the real life stories available now, and bringing megabuck advances for their first person authors.
The next time I’m stuck for something to hang a plotline on, I’ll dust off my own modest classics collection or take a trip to the library. Hey, if something worked for Doyle or ol’ Will it’s good enough for me.