Thursday, December 06, 2012

Mistakes and novel ideas

You've heard the saying that the only thing certain in life is death and taxes. I'd like to add to that list--mistakes and the novel ideas that spring from them.

Mistakes. They frustrate us, anger us. Sometimes they make us laugh, and sometimes they make us cry.

Residents in a small town in Bordeaux, France have been stunned by the mistake of a local contractor. He was supposed to bulldoze an outbuilding near a beautiful 18th-Century chateau, but instead -- by mistake -- he totally demolished the historic gem. That's a photo of the manor. Upon seeing the pile of rubble, the owner was in shock, but plans to build a replica.

This was a blurb in the national news and will probably fade from our radar, but I wonder what the implications of this mistake will be. Will the disappointed owner and townspeople forgive the contractor? Will he serve a civic penalty?

I can't even imagine how bad he must feel. Why wouldn't he double check the orders to destroy a vintage piece of local history? Will he forever be defined by this mistake?

In my writer's brain I come up with many "what ifs." What would a novel about a similar mistake look like? What would it be like to investigate someone who made a mistake that defines the rest of their life?

And on and on I go with more novel ideas floating around my crowded little brain.

What about you? How would you envision a novel about a mistake?

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