It's been a sad week for the Baby Boomers and Gen X losing two of the great popular icons of our time. Farah Fawcett was the all-American blonde we all had pinned to our bedroom walls, and Michael Jackson provided the soundtrack to our childhood. We take it so much for granted that we will live - if not forever - well into our eighties, even nineties, that to lose two people who embodied youth at such an early age is a wake up call for us all.
It makes you wonder whether there will ever be icons like this again. At the age of 50, Jackson had a career spanning four decades. Can you imagine that happening now when slebs are turned over at such a rate? His life is epic - dazzling god given talents, immense wealth, global adulation and a crashing fall from grace thanks to a tragic personal life that was at best eccentric. Did you ever buy a Jackson record? I didn't, but know most of his back catalogue - his music was part of our pop culture growing up. Who doesn't remember seeing Thriller for the first time? You have the feeling this story is going to run and run - the vultures are circling, and no doubt more lurid tales of abuse will be sold to the highest bidder. Let's hope Jackson's real legacy - his incredible music - will eclipse the fairground freakshow.
We live in less innocent times now than when a fresh faced boy sang 'ABC' and danced on air. It's like pop culture is eating itself - the tabloids say we want prurient inside scoops on sleb lives so they report it, but do people just read what's on offer? Personally, I like it when stars are just that - retaining mystery, star quality. I don't want to know what they eat for breakfast, who they are shagging, the reason they don't talk to their brother, or that they sleep under an energy pyramid. Is it not enough any more to be an accomplished artist or performer? Every culture needs its icons - larger than life individuals we can pin our hopes and dreams on. It makes you wonder who is going to step up on the empty pedestal.
TODAY'S PROMPT: Back in the olden days a writer would have the chance to grow their audience. Now expecting little from the first two or three books isn't an option. Writers are brand names in the same way celebrities are. If you're working on a book or story right now, how can you make it stand head and shoulders above the other submissions? One of the classic mistakes every new writer makes is to have a central character that isn't really that interesting. They are 'the writer in disguise' - probably perfectly nice characters, but they are observers of what's going on in the story rather than the dynamic. Let them experience things - good and bad - that few people will. Writers are attached to their characters - maybe you feel protective of them? Dig out that 'chip of ice' all writers are supposed to have in their hearts and throw the works at them. Give them things people dream of - love,wealth, beauty, talent - then take them away. Give them obstacles to overcome, conflict to survive, quests to undertake. Learn from society's obsession with celebrities - their fascination is that they are not 'normal', their lives are not like ours. Your characters need star quality - today why not have a look at how you can raise the stakes?
It's the end of our 6 week summer kick start - let's check in below. And for anyone writing short stories at the moment, why not check out Tonto Books' competition, which is being judged by author and blogger the lovely Caroline Smailes:http://www.tontobooks.co.uk/proddetail.php?prod=Even-More-Short-Stories