One day, as I was roaming the unbeaten paths of my mind in search of story material, I came upon two scenes. One was a rooftop rescue, another was a captive scene. I didn’t realize that the little hero of the first scene was also the captive in the second, until he stepped into the light and told me himself. The two scenes likewise became clearer. The person he had rescued recognized him, but he didn’t return the recognition. Also, the sickness he had in his captivity seemed to be part of another rescue plan somehow. The two were connected, but he wouldn’t tell me how. He was playing keep-away with his information, enticing me to ask him about his story.
“That’s very interesting.” I told him “I’d like to hear more. But can you tell me at a different time, please?”
I didn’t need another writing project. I was already busy with a sci-fi story, and was chasing down a frizzy-haired, bespectacled artist/spy and her enemy-turned-friend, a semi-aquatic smuggler.
But the little guy wouldn’t give up. Polite yet insistent, he kept repeating the snippets of his story, sometimes adding new information. Finally, I gave in.
Tag, you’re it.
Now that he had my attention, he told me his background, his purpose, and his name. He introduced me to his friends and his world. I recognized that world. I had been there before, twice in fact! Suddenly two stories from the past came rushing back to me, and their characters joined the game of tag.
I tried to chase each character down, quickly jotting down scenes and character traits, scribbling names and sketching portraits, collecting whatever they gave me. The game was exhausting, but it was fun. I felt more productive and energized than I had been with my space story.
Then I found myself chasing a completely different set of characters, while the old ones darted back into the corners of my mind.
Tag, now you’re it.
Now I was running after a centaur-like creature and her little dragon friend. They were very chatty, but more inclined to bicker between themselves than to give me information about their story-world. Their companion, an elf-like young man who seemed to have some sort of noble and tragic past, was a little more silent. Of course I chased him the most.
I had already grown fond of this quirky trio. But then I realized that they, too, would probably tag another group of characters, and then dash away. Even their replacements would do the same.
These games of tag were merging with games of hide-and-seek, leaving me with piles of partial stories.
I decided to backtrack. It’s difficult, retracing my steps, but now I’m coming back to the old path, following the story I had before I was distracted. Now I’m the one initiating the game of tag. I’m going back to find a certain intergalactic duo. When I find them, I’ll be the one initiating the games, and I’ll turn tag into twenty questions until I can finish the story.
I’m still keeping an eye on all those other characters. I’m just not going to let myself get too…