Friday, July 6, 2007

Mining Your Childhood

For many of us, we glance at our lives from our childhoods to where we are now and don't think much about it. Because it happened to us, because we were there, it might not occur as being anything particularly special or interesting. We lack the objectivity to look at it from the outside. Every time I work with writers on exploring their childhoods for scene potential, they are almost always surprised at how fun it is and the scenic potential they discover. And when the writers share the details of their childhood memories, they usually discover how everyone else experienced either the same thing or something similar. Or wish that they had. Your walk upon this planet is unique, but relatable.

Even if people grew up in different time periods, we were all kids. Our excitement and wonder were all just focused on different things. I may not know my giant robots when it comes to
Transformers, but I know my way around giant monsters in Godzilla's universe and PlayStations may have replaced Army Men, but I can relate. We can all connect with our own inner geek.

RoboWriter Assignment:

Create a list of ten places - be specific - where you loved to play or hang out when you were a kid (12 years or younger).

Here's mine. Remember, it's not a top ten list. It's a quickly rendered brainstorming list of places in no particular order.

1) under the trailer
2) in the woods
3) under a folding table with a blanket thrown over it
4) under my bed
5) near the crick (that's right, I said "crick")
6) at the dump
7) at my best friend Dale's dairy farm barn
8) at the elementary school playground
9) along the railroad tracks
10) in the big tree at the center of the trailer park I grew up in

The assignment is to pick one of the items on your list and build a scene around it. The challenge is to place adults in this childhood setting and to let your memories of that place affect your scene. I once wrote a scene about a CEO who held office under a folding table draped in a blanket. In interviewing a potential hire, he offered her chocolate syrup from the can (the best way - when I was a kid, you could only get Hershey's Chocolate Syrup in a can and you had to open it with a church key - a type of opener that opened bottles on one end and punctured cans open with its other pointy end. Around this time, beer cans could only be opened this way, so my brother and I would open these can of chocolatey goodness and pretend we were drinking beer. Hey, maybe that's why I like Guinness so much!). She gets the job when she proves her mettle by peeling off a scab on her arm and eating it. Good times. This is from memory. I wrote that scene probably fifteen years ago for WNEP. There is no electronic copy of it. I have no idea where the hard copy went.

As always, feel free to post your list of ten in the comment section. Good luck with the assignment.