Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Monday, March 27, 2006

Can you

By Jeffrey Savage

Wow, long but fun weekend. Two days of the LDStorymakers conference was a blast, but doing an early morning writer’s boot camp was exhausting. (6am Saturday morning is just wrong to be doing anything other than sleeping or fishing.) Add two book signings and trying to get my second Shandra book done and it’s just over the top.

So let’s have some fun today and play a game. I first heard about this game in a Stephen King novel (I’ll buy lunch for anyone who can name the novel) and have enjoyed it ever since. It’s especially fun for writers, because our goal is to put our characters into untenable situations before rescuing them in a believable fashion.

So here’s the deal. The game is called “Can you?” I’m going to start by placing our heroine Pauline Peril in a situation that seems to have no possibility of escape. Then the next person carries the story forward by getting her out in a believable fashion and putting her into a new peril. Each person gets her out of one jam and into another. The rest of us decide if the escape was believable.

An example might be that Pauline is caught bathing in the middle of a lake full of ravenous crocodiles. Her gear is all on the far side of the lake. You can’t have a ski doo suddenly pop out of the water. But you could have her use her glasses (which she always wears while bathing in case she wants to read a good book) to signal a nearby helicopter which swings down to rescue her.

Make sense? Okay, let’s give it a try.

Fighting her way through the humid Amazon jungle, in search of the famed lost diamond of Ichuinchihuah, Paula heard the warning growl of a nearby jaguar. It sounded hungry and she was in no mood to be lunch. Holding her rifle, she eased back into the bushes when, without warning. something closed around her ankle and swung her into the air. As a strong vine whipped her up and through the bushes, her rifle was knocked from her hands and her backpack was ripped from her shoulders.

“Nice flight?” said a voice from below. It was the evil Dr. Homicidus.

“You,” she growled, assessing her situation. She was hanging by her feet nearly 100 feet in the air from a vine looped over the branch of a Bunya Bunya tree. The other end of the vine was tied to a stake in the ground. “Let me down before I shred you like cheddar cheese.”

“I don’t think so,” Dr Homicidus chuckled. “You see, you are currently suspended above a pit 30 feet long by 30 feet wide. Although you may not be able to see it from your current height, the pit is lined with thousands of tiny darts. Each dart is coated with the deadly poison of the Strawberry frog. Just in case the fall doesn’t kill you, which it most assuredly will, the poison will certainly do the job.”

“Not a problem,” Pauline said with more bravado than she really felt. “I’ll just climb the vine up to the tree branch and make my way down.”

“You could.” Dr Homicidus grinned. “If I didn’t do this.” Hefting a metal five gallon can, he soaked his end of the vine with gasoline.

“I believe you have roughly 30 seconds after I light this before the vine burns through, plunging you to your death. I personally won’t be here to see it as I abhor graphic violence but my faithful servant Rapi who is both deaf and mute will stand guard with his powerful 20/20 hunting rifle to make sure you don’t do anything tricky.”

With that, he lit a match dropped it to the vine and disappeared in the jungle. His final words were, “Ta ta.”


At 3/27/2006 6:22 PM, Blogger Mean Aunt said...

Squinting, Pauline grabbed the laser pointer she used for her lecture series"Empowerment in Peril and the Modern Woman" and took careful aim.

Rapi, keeping careful watch through the rifle's powerful scope grinned fiendishly. "How like a woman to clutch her heart at the thought of death!" he thought as the laser beam pierced through the highly polished and maginfied scope blinding him in his one good eye.

Using her abs of steel, Pauline "crunched" herself upright grabbing at the vine. Knowing that once the fire traveled past the stake the newly freed vine would plunge her to her deaath, she grabbed the staked vine just as the it snapped.

Racing against the climbing flames she furiously sliced the end of the newly freed vine with her 5 carat engagement ring (Dear, dear Roger) sending it tumbling into Rapi as he lay on the ground clutching his eye.

Twistingthe vines together in true empowered fashion, she returned to her original plan and climbed to the branch and made her way down the tree.

She took Rapi's rifle and whacked him on the head for good measure.

"Boy that must be a really big tree to have a branch that would hold me in the middle of a 30 x 30 poison pit," she mused. "At least it took care of that jaguar, but if the jaguar has been poisoned, what is that roaring sound?"

Pauline looked up as a wall of water came crashing through the jungle. Dr Homicidus had blown the dam to cover his evil tracks. Pauline clutched a the trees and branches as the water pushed her closer and closer to the edge of the cliff. The jungle creatures, desparate for higher ground were scambling madly. The rocks and hills were completely covered with vicious jungle cats and venemous snakes, both hissing their displeasure as a warning to others that the high ground was theirs alone.

At 3/27/2006 6:54 PM, Anonymous Amy Black said...

Good show, mean aunt!

At 3/27/2006 9:36 PM, Blogger Mean Aunt said...

Thank you Amy Black.
It was posted rough because The Noisy Cousin was yanking on the Mean Aunt's arm which I took to mean No More Computer For You.

But at least no infodumps :)

At 3/27/2006 9:51 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

Bravo! Okay, who can save Pauline from the flood, wild animals, and venomous snakes, before she is washed over the cliff?

At 3/28/2006 9:54 AM, Blogger Sweebler said...

Pauline took a deep breath (albeit a quick deep breath, one should not waste time pondering when one's life is in danger) and assessed her situation: Rifle in one hand, snakes and vicious jungle cats hissing at her feet and raging water below.

The flash of diamond caught her eye. Roger! She leapt into the rushing water, pointed her toes and crossed her arms over her chest. The water gushed over her head and she struggled to keep her body tight, but she knew this cliff and Roger had taught her the art of cliff diving.

She felt the water change from falling to churning, and she knew she was in the pooled water at the bottom of the cliff. She released her arms and swam forward. Just as she thought her air would run out, her head burst through the water. She took a deep breath and plunged back in.

She swam with the current, silently cursing herself for dropping the gun during her descent. As the water spread its way into the valley, it calmed and slowed, and Pauline swam to the edge and hauled herself out.

She emptied the water out of her shoes, and pulled her long blonde hair out of its tight chignon, shaking muddy jungle water everywhere.

She unzipped her jacket pocket and pulled out a Ziploc bag, still water-proof (yellow and blue make green, she thought. Commercials always made such an impact!) and pulled out her satellite phone. She dialed Roger's number.

"Pauline!" he said immediately. "Where are you?"

"I'm..." She stopped. The cold barrel of a gun pressed against her neck. She turned slightly. An angry woman with piercing eyes stood over Pauline.

"I told Homicidus not to underestimate you. You're used to getting your own way. You may have escaped from the Doctor, you may have stolen Roger from me, but you will not get away this time."

"Sheila, is that you?" Roger's voice came through on the sat phone. Sheila pushed the off button.

"Your time has come."

"Oh, Sheila," sighed Pauline, trying to sound calm, "You should know that one little gun is no match for me."

"I know," said Sheila, "that's why I brought help."

Pauline looked, 6 men with rifles, surrounded her.

At 3/28/2006 8:18 PM, Blogger Rusty said...


"What's wrong? What happened? I nailed it that time!" said Jenna.

Burt, the director, would have none of it. "What are you talking about Jenna? You missed your line again! You were supposed to say ' should know that one little gun is no match for me, PAULINE THE AMAZON GUN QUEEN!' and you left it out again."

Jenna hated that line. It made the whole film feel like a mid-twentieth century B-flick. Not that this was the next Indiana Jones or anything but it had potential. Well, there's a cute lead actor that she gets to kiss so at least there's that.

"Burt, it's such a stupid line, why do I have to say it? We're not making movies in 1954 anymore, it's 2034 for hell's sake!"

"Jenna, can I speak to you in my office?"

As everyone else broke early for lunch Burt and Jenna walked over to Burt's ridiculously small office, right off the side of the studio. Jenna gets clausterphobic as it is but standing there with only a couple feet separating her and Burt Thomas, the world-famous director of classics such as Liger Lilly, European Euphoria and The Mississippi Mormon she was intimidated. She not only respected him for his directing skills but she has always found him to be particularly sexy. He smelled like high school prom right now. It was in this very office that she had always fantasized about lifting up his shirt...

"Jenna, you're terrible."

It was like a punch in the stomach. Jenna tried to sputter something out but nothing came before Burt followed up, "Your contract says if you don't perform to my standards then I can fire you. Jenna, you're not performing to my standards. We didn't hire you to write this movie, we hired to do one thing and one thing only...well, two actually. We hired you to act how we want you to act and we hired you to look hot. You've done a great job on the second one but I think this is the last straw for the first. I'm sorry Jenna, you're fired."

At 3/28/2006 9:46 PM, Blogger gibbyg said...

Jenna left the studio and walked straight home. The paparazzi photographed the entire trip. She didn’t notice them. She was replaying all the zippy one-liners she should have told Burt. “Well, at least I have hair.” Or “Forrest Gump was the worst movie ever nominated for an Oscar.” Or the devastatingly low, “Your Momma smokes crack-rock!” Or more realistically, “I know you’ve always loved me, but I’m going to marry Steve Evans instead!”

After crying, she flipped open her OMac. Since her contract to be in the picture had precluded her from blogging, she had not blogged in over three months. In this time her anger had pent up inside her like an overdue bowel movement. She chose an innocuous enough pseudonym, Nate Oman, and began to type.

The rage was easy to find. She ranted about how she hated campy movies. She singled out Liger Lilly as the most asinine waste of electrons to date. She expounded upon how the themes the Mississippi Mormon exposed Burt’s true feelings against same sex marriage.

She also spread rumors about the cast.

She revealed how Nick Adams (Roger) had feminine hands. “It’s like giving my niece a high five.” She wrote a scathing review of Kelly McClure’s (Sheila) previous film “The Believer.” “Kelly couldn’t act her way out of a paper bag!” Nate proclaimed.

Then her rants started losing focus. She railed on the owner of the Cubs for moving the team to the Kuala Lumpur. She expounded upon her hatred for D. Fletcher and Stephen Sondheim. Blaming them, unfairly of course, for the destruction of musical theater. After 10 hours of forming and defending her arguments she fell asleep on the couch.

The phone rang.


“Jenna, Baby! It’s Burt. Look doll, I said some crazy things this morning. I was calling to make sure you’re coming to work tomorrow. We have that ninja scene where you ride the motor cycle through the birthday cake. We can’t fake your smile so we’ll need to get some head shots in the morning. See you at 9!”


She wondered if Nate would get her in trouble.

The phone rang again. This time it was her agent.

“What were you thinking? Nate Oman? That’s the dumbest fake name in the world. Do you want to get fired?”

“I thought I was. So I went off. Sorry. Is there any way I can keep the job? I need the money.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

At 3/29/2006 7:22 AM, Blogger Sweebler said...

Hey, no fair.


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