11:09:08 am on
Tuesday 23 Jul 2024

I Can Do Better
AJ Robinson

How many times have you thought those words? You see a television show or movie or read a book and, even if you like it, a little voice inside your head says, "Yeah, I could do something better." I've thought it on several occasions and gone on to write scripts or books because of it. One time, I saw an interesting science fiction film, a small indie movie made with a minimal cast and mostly no special effects, which was quite impressive given the genre.

The series was Outlander.

Yet, I found it lacking, as the actions of the three main characters didn't ring true to me. Thus, I drew up an outline for a script of my own. It's still in the works as another project popped up after I saw the cable television series, Outlander.

If you're not familiar with Outlander, it's quite good. The show comes from a series of books, which tell the story of an Englishwoman that goes to Scotland, with her husband. There she goes back in time when she visits one of the stone circles, similar to Stonehenge, which are common throughout Great Britain.

I enjoyed the story, but, as with so many other movies, television shows and books, I found a couple faults. I felt the time travel mechanism was weak and the main characters attempting to change history just didn't work as a plot device. Let's face it that is a very difficult type of story to pull off.

Over the years, I've seen stories about the Kennedy assassination, Pearl Harbor and even one about trying to kill President Charles de Gaulle of France. The latter was the book and movie The Day of the Jackal.

Jackal, this story, in both media, was an outstanding, exciting thriller. I thought about how the author and, later filmmaker, managed to achieve that. After all, people reading the book and seeing the movie went in knowing that the assassin was going to fail. How do you make that kind of story compelling?

The Jackal was not about assassination.

The story focused on the cat and mouse game between the killer and the police and saved the actual attempt on the life of de Gaulle, at the very end. By then, reader or viewer is deep in the story, caught in its web. She or he is on the edge of their seat wondering how it's going to end.

This got me to thinking. Could I write a time travel story with a better plot line? Well, I could sure try!

Coming up with the time machine mechanism was easy enough. Then I pondered what should be the main plot. Should I pull the old predetermination cliché, where the characters are supposed to be there, where their actions cause the very event they're trying to prevent?

I immediately got the old "been there, done that" feeling. What if I just ignored the whole issue of creating a temporal paradox and merely told a story of life in the era I chose to set the story? No, that’s too wimpy!

Then I made my decision. They would go for it and change history. Of course, there was always the question of degree. Would it be a little change, a big change or maybe a bit of both?

To find out, you'll have to buy my book. Forgive me for the shameless plug, but I have a manuscript ready to publish. Yes, I've signed with a publisher. The working title is The Long Journey Home. My publisher is the Champagne Book Group.

I dedicated my new book to my late brother.

We're shooting for a release in summer 2018. Oh. For those of you who have kept track of my stories over recent years, you’ll understand this final point. I’m dedicating the book to my brother, Stephen.

The next time you get an urge to see if you can do better: go for it. You never know what your future might hold.


Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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