November 6, 2011

The Formula – My First Novel?

With the exception of a few screenplays and short stories, my writing has always been focused on nonfiction. I don’t see that changing overall, but I have been curious to see if I might enjoy writing more fiction. I know that I tend to prefer my writing efforts to be in small chunks, which is why the blog form is so great for me. So I’ve decided to give fiction a try and utilize the blog form for that experiment. Starting with this post I will begin posting a draft of what I envision someday (hopefully) to be a novel. I’m also going to embark on this effort knowing only the basic premise of the book, the title (The Formula), and some basic characteristics of the main character. Other than that, I’m not really sure where the story will go, but I’m comfortable with that. I know many fiction writers suggest outlining a story prior to writing it, but I want to try a more stream of consciousness approach to writing this story. We’ll see how it goes. Stay tuned to this blog for installments to the story. Here’s how the story begins…

A Few Months Ago…

Long ago theorists contemplated a formula that, when solved, would yield the solution to all of life’s problems. Philosophers and scientists bandied about the idea that all of life’s knowledge and intricacies could ultimately be deduced from a single formula. The search for this formula became the passion of a small group of people intoxicated by the promise of ultimate knowledge and power. Irony being what it is, the person who ultimately possessed the solution to the formula never really considered its discovery seriously. One day a teenage prodigy named Bob stumbled upon the formula as he was doing some Mensa mathematical puzzles at his kitchen table. In one quick moment of inspiration and brilliance a young man potentially changed the course of the world.

Bob was smart enough to realize that what he discovered was important. Perhaps he didn’t fully understand just how important. Eventually he did. A milestone event had taken place in mankind’s development at a simple kitchen table in suburban Chicago on a humid afternoon of Midwestern America summer heat.

Caution prevailed as Bob sat at his kitchen table thinking about the ramifications of his discovery. He realized the piece of paper on the table was storing perhaps the most important information ever written down and horror struck his soul. What would people do to obtain the formula? To what lengths would the less ethical among us go in order to possess the formula, its power? Bob stared at the paper for a long time, almost an hour. Then he hid the piece of paper somewhere no one would ever find it.

Professor James Alman at the University of Chicago was one of Bob’s best friends, and the Assistant Dean of the Mathematics Department. Jim was the only person Bob told about the formula. Professor Alman consulted two colleagues to provide himself comfort in the solidity of the formula, then soon called a press conference and announced the discovery to a hungry audience of media folks hunting for something unique to report amidst the news mainstay of disaster and violence.

At first, the fame that accompanied the news of Bob’s discovery was fun. Talk shows, magazine covers and academic adulation were all enjoyable. A few weeks later the police knocked on his family’s door. The look on Bob’s mom’s face as she escorted the policeman into Bob’s room spoke volumes. Something had happened. Something bad.

The policeman said, “Son, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but… Professors Alman, Stack and Beekman have been murdered. We don’t know who did it. I’m really sorry.”

A blank look fell across Bob’s face. Not a sad expression, not really an expression at all. Bob was processing, quickly. His course of action was clear. He had no choice. When the police left his home and his mother finally stopped asking him if he was fine, Bob feigned going to bed, packed some essentials and left quietly out the back door, out of sight from the policeman stationed in a car outside the front of his home. And yes, he took the piece of paper with him.

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