When this challenge was first posed the first image that popped into my head was a vast field filled with broken down oil derricks. The sky would be black with occasional flashes of blood red lightning and in the center would be a man dressed in black rags reciting incantations into the storm.
In my head I called it The Wizard of the Oilfields.
The idea of the wizard was so I could easily do some of the harder Draw Something words like Snooki, Shaq and Tupac by putting them in the wizard’s mouth as words within his gibberish incantations. But other than the image and the title (which is sometimes more than enough) I had nothing else to go on.
Another idea that sprung to mind was the idea of a bunch of riggers stranded on the ocean while some sort of sea monster attacks them.
I’ve always been a fan of movies and books about those kind of sieges like Predator, Dog Soldiers, The Terror, Aliens, Alien etc. The story is simply a small group of characters with mildly different personalities facing off against some sort of supernatural foe while their resources run low and sometimes a traitor emerges among them.
I couldn’t shake the image of the vast desert so I moved the rig to the middle of a nameless desert and made it a sand monster instead of a sea monster.
The wizard character remained in the back of my mind but gradually evolved into some sort of desert drifter they would rescue who would corrupt them from the inside.
The first line about noises and shadows came to me out of nowhere and really set the tone for the story in my mind and on the page. I knew then that I needed to make the story about the rising tension of this faceless, nameless terror outside the rig and how it would eventually reveal itself.
One thing I’m good at when I’m writing is finding excuses to procrastinate. One particular way for me is to get to the point where I need to name a character and then decide that I better have a ten minute browse of the internet or play angry birds until the name comes to me. Ten minutes has a habit of becoming anything from an hour to forever and the story gets abandoned. To combat that I just used colours for this story. Originally as place holders that would be changed at the end I left them in and hopefully they weren’t too distracting for the reader.
As I wrote the story I had a basic framework in my head and because the story was based on some of the genre films I had mentioned earlier there were always sources for me to get ideas from. Mostly though I made it up as I went and also tried to find ways to shoe horn in some of the harder Draw Something words. This caused some interesting scenes to emerge like Yellow’s birthday which brought in the lighter (and Tupac). The lighter took a while to be decided upon as I didn’t know what would be in the box he received. However once I decided upon the lighter then Yellow’s fate was sealed as I know Chekov’s Gun means that the lighter had to come back into play and the only way that would make sense would be a classic exploding sacrifice from a likable character. That scene with all the men, except Blue, being sat around the table talking served a few purposes as it established a year for the story and also gave the reader more time with the characters before things got ugly. I was happy with the way the dialogue flowed in the scene, giving each character a chance to say something which illuminated their character a little bit and being quite a funny scene as well. This scene was mainly designed to get rid of DS words and originally the newspaper around the gift was going to have the headline ‘Shaq and Snooki have love child, call it Tupac.’ But I was happier with the more meandering scene in the end.
The wizard character got dropped right before he was to be introduced. He would have been the man wandering around on the sand but by the time we had got there in the story I wanted to get to the climax and I felt like bringing in a new character (he would have been called Black) would extend it too much especially since I wanted to have him be like Ben from Lost when he first appears and starts messing with people’s heads. The story was meant to be a light exercise and adding this character would have meant doubling the length of story or underusing him in order to keep the story short, which would have been a waste of the character.
In the end I used the walking undead trap idea and looking back it should have been Purple who was brought back from the dead instead of some nobody but c’est la vie.
I was very happy with the introduction of the animal and the scene following that. The blinking rocks thing is a homage to one of my favourite books, The Terror, where something similar happens but in the arctic.
The rest of the story flowed from my brain pretty much seamlessly except for the sequence with Gray trapped on the other side of the canteen. I worked for ages to find a way to save him but couldn’t do it and in the end I’d written that he says he has an idea and then sat at my desk racking my brains but in the end it just seemed more shocking (and a bit funny) to have him say that and then get mauled by the animal.
My recent influences really came to the fore though with Yellow’s death scene. Readers of this blog will know that I recently watched all the Rocky films and am now writing about them. Boxing must have been on my brain because I had had no plans of Yellow going out the way he did. I knew he would use the lighter to blow up the rig but hadn’t decided how yet when the idea of having him box the Raider starting to emerge and I ran with it. One of my favourite things I’ve written and hopefully it made the reader feel nicely triumphant right before they felt a bit sad when Yellow says, ‘Sorry, my love’ and blows the drill all to hell.
The ending was tough as endings should be. I didn’t know whether to have a sad ending with the evac arriving at an empty rig or have it end with White wandering into the desert or what. In the end I settled on the fake out execution with a sprinkling of sniper fire, which I was very happy with.
Overall, I’m happy with the this story. It is the kind of film I would have watched from the eighties and probably would have starred Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen. I’m not sure how this story would have been written without the challenge as a lot of my choices that I was happy with came from trying to find places for the words as well as the basic idea. I would prefer to never have written something with the word Snooki in it but that’s life I guess.