A 5,300 year old cold case of murder

otzi 02

Hunter-gatherer, Murder Victim? (Photo credit: didkovskaya)

I love writing prompts. Usually they are photos or drawings, sometimes an unfinished sentence; even unintentional quips from family members can work well. The danger herein lies that writing prompts, more accurately stated my enjoyment of writing prompts, cause me to lose focus. I mean, really, this should be a no-brainer for me. I have a weekly series to write. I have a “finished” novel to revise. I have the sequel to write. I even have another novel (cozy mystery) rattling around in my brain.

Do I really need another project?

So last evening, during my decompression time from finishing my latest class (IS6679 if you need to know) my wife and I saw a documentary on the Iceman, Otzi.  This man’s body was found in a frozen, mummified condition high in the Italian Alps, about 5,300 years after he fell mortally wounded by an arrow in the back.

Dang! That’s a great opening vision for a novel!

(little voice) Don’t do it. You have too much to do, and another class starting on the 19th.

(I very much dislike those little voices. They are always right. Always.)

The commentators offered several scenarios as to why he might have been killed. The cynic in me kept thinking – they are all assuming he was killed unjustly. What if he were a bad guy? What if Otzi was a robber? A killer? What if he was killed by someone with poor aim?

The possibilities are endless.

Either way, it can be a great story, but I don’t think I will take it on right now. The little voice has a point.

When inspiration does arrive, however, what can you do to help?  For me, I always try to think “what if?”

To wit: consider alternatives, even unlikely ones if they fit your genre. For example, if you write sci-fi vampire tragic romance novels, you could play it as the story of Otzi, the last hunter-gatherer in the village not infected by space alien vampires who arrived looking for new wives. After the aliens abduct his girlfriend, Otzi races up the mountain to save her before the ship takes off, only to be fell by the leader of the pre-historic vampire clan.

Revenge is his, though, because as the aliens try to take off, their ship causes an avalanche, burying the ship and the entire village. Over the years, the glacier slowly moves past Otzi’s frozen body which has been sheltered by a rocky ridge. Ironically, both the aliens and vampires, still alive even though frozen in ice, find themselves slowly pulverized by the massive unstoppable glacier, removing all evidence of their existence.

See? All it takes is a little imagination. And time.

Which I don’t have at the moment.

So take the idea and run with it if you want. I don’t even need credit. In the meantime, I need to think of how my PI is going to get out of the forced dinner with the neighbor’s daughter.

So now you know a little more about how my warped writer’s mind works.

On a more pleasant note: what do you like to use for prompts? Or do you just start writing? (I am always partial to us “pants’ers!”)

Oh yes, the next time you are in the Italian Alps, keep an eye out for prehistoric vampires. We only assume they all perished…



6 thoughts on “A 5,300 year old cold case of murder

  1. Great post DJ! Yes, I admit I’m more of the pants’er type myself…but I also know the value of asking those ‘what if’ questions because it can lead you on in ways you don’t initially think of in the beginning.

    I also think we can ‘over think’ what we’re writing. I find I do pretty much what S. King suggested in “On Writing”–I have that initial what if moment but I refrain from writing out an outline or plot line. I just start writing with that situation firmly in mind (once I determine what it is) and let the story unfold. He describes it as slowly unearthing a buried fossil. He equates plotting to using a jackhammer–losing much of what you need/want in the process of unearthing….gently dear writer…vs. another prolific writer of our day who insists pants’er’s are doomed from the beginning and MUST outline it all out. Choose your poison.

    I think that is exactly what is meant when other well known authors say just sit down and start writing and edit afterwards (but it is so hard to not edit as you go along!!) so that the story evolves naturally and isn’t stilted or overly plotted out.

    Even if time restraints are the issue of the day, you can still jot down those thoughts for a later time to use…and in time, if you’re meant to write it, it will haunt you thoroughly until you begin. 😉

    • I really like the buried fossil analogy. I may try writing the next novel in first person, to force myself to keep “unearthing!”

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