· Listen to the Muse ·
I wake up. It’s 3:30 a.m. I’ve been dreaming. I have an idea for writing a story or novel. It’s titled, The Vice President’s Daughter. Quick! I’ve got to write this down! I can sleep later.
This is a Young Adult (YA) story. There’s a teenage boy who breaks into the VP’s daughter’s car and steals the air conditioner. What? The air conditioner?
The crime takes place on federal property in Washington D.C. protected by the Secret Service. The offenses include trespassing, burglary, and theft.
This is not a visitor getting lost on a tour of the White House or a person with mental illness climbing over the gates surrounding the president’s temporary home.
This is crazy! Who steals a car’s air conditioner in the middle of the night on property guarded by the Secret Service?
I know the teenage criminal will eventually meet the VP’s daughter and they will ultimately have strong feelings for one another. When, not if, the boy is caught, part of his court-ordered penalty will include an apology to her.
I give my characters names. She’s Megan. He’s Bruno.
Questions pop up. Do the two teenagers know each other prior to the crime?
As I wake up further, I start filtering out what makes sense and what doesn’t. Maybe it doesn’t take place in Washington D.C. Megan could be the daughter of a senator or even a mayor. It could even take place in a town like Hutchinson, Kansas.
The new title of the story could be, “The Mayor’s Daughter.”
I’ve decided the politician will be female. Her husband will be an attorney, a defense attorney.
It’s not so clear to me now but Megan and Bruno might already know one another. He’s not necessarily a criminal. He hasn’t taken her air conditioner. He breaks into her car to leave her a pair of earbuds with his personal playlist, or he accidentally leaves the earbuds behind after committing a crime.
Megan finds it, plays it, and loves the music! There’s an emotional connection.
If this event is investigated by the police then yes, the earwax off the earbuds could be tested for DNA. Of course the authorities surmise the criminal might be a dangerous stalker. The depth of the investigation all depends on Megan’s parents and the investigating authorities.
Does Megan hold back information about what has happened in order to protect Bruno, or is she initially scared, not knowing who the perpetrator might be?
When Bruno is caught, Megan will attempt to get her parents, especially her mother, to ignore the crime as inconsequential but she meets resistance. Megan will seek help from her father. After all, he’s a defense attorney!
The vice president (or Mother Mayor) wants the most severe penalties, including a protection from abuse or no-contact order. She and her husband quarrel about the approach to this incident.
It’s time for a twist. What if Bruno is of a different race than Megan? It would be so easy to imagine law enforcement’s response to anyone trespassing outside the Vice President’s home—or inside their garage—regardless of racial issues.
Will Bruno face felony charges? Will Megan and Bruno have an opportunity to further their relationship in the midst of these legal barriers?
Where do Megan and Bruno go to school? Are they classmates or is this a random crime?
What will happen next?
Five a.m. I return to bed.
Six-thirty a.m. The story has taken on a stronger political tone. The VP/Mayor and her family represent one major political party (red or blue). Bruno’s family represents the opposition. The adults need to communicate during the process, especially if Megan and Bruno were friends prior to the crime/prank.
Can people of different political parties get along about anything? What if it’s about their children? Would that make it easier or just as difficult? And do children care about politics when they’re falling in love? Not one bit.
Later, with some rest, I think about a few more possible twists to the story. Bruno, in the middle of the night, on the VP’s premises (Number One Observatory Circle, located on the grounds of the US Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.) observes something that could get him killed.
Does a Secret Service agent believe that s/he’s been seen in a compromising position? Is one of Megan’s parents in a love affair? Maybe with a Secret Service agent?
Of course, if the novel’s a thriller then let’s not forget the Russians. Bruno could have interrupted a secret intelligence-gathering activity but he doesn’t recognize the importance of what he’s seen until later in the story . . . after someone has tried to murder him.
Megan could be having health issues. Her balance is off due to an inner-ear problem. She’s been dizzy. Is this a normal health problem or due to secret monitoring devices operated by foreign intelligence?
The day after my dream I’ve simplified things. I know what’s going to happen in the story. There’s no adultery, no foreign agents, and no attempts to kill anyone. Instead, it’s about two teenagers dating.
Bruno was not stealing Megan’s air conditioner. He was installing hidden video cameras in her car! He’s a stalker!
I can see the movie now. Megan and Bruno have been dating for a month.
Megan tells Bruno: “The A/C’s not working right, we’re having it repaired tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?” asks Bruno. “There’s no need to do that. I can fix it. I’ve got tools in my truck.”
Later, there’s a close-up of Bruno inside Megan’s car with a miniature camera in his hand. He’s by himself. He says out loud, “If she thinks she can dump me for another guy, she doesn’t know who or what I am.”
I don’t write YA; I don’t write romance; and I don’t write thrillers, but when the muse wakes me up at 3:30 a.m., what’s a writer to do?
Ignore an opportunity to be creative?
Until next time, happy writing and reading!