Warning: this post contains half-baked and undigested ideas. Feel free to argue with or ignore as you will.
So, it seems the whole world is writing Pirate stories. I know of at least five GSFWC members who claim to have signed up for passage (Mr Duncan has of course already completed his, plus landed a leviathan of a sea shanty into the bargain; and I’ve read one other which is just brilliant), and of plenty of others further afield who are in the process of finding their sea legs and heaving to as well. So, it’s probably a good job that the world and his wife are getting ready to publish all these pirate stories that are going to be floating around pretty soon like so much storm-wrecked flotsam…well, I know of at least two or three publishing venues dedicating themselves to nefarious sea-going adventures, and that seems like a lot – they won’t be enough, and pirate stories will be washing ashore in all sorts of strange places over the next couple of years, but that’s the nature of capturing the general writerly imagination.
Which is all good, because, of course, I too have a pirate tale to tell, and I think I have a pretty unique angle on it. But it’s got me wondering: what do people really want from a pirate story? I’m sure I’m not going to be the only one who’s first reaction to the brief: “Write a story with pirates in…” was, “Great! What can I do with this? How can I make it different?” Not by a long chalk. Because, yes, it’s great that pirates are “in” right now. Pirates are fun (we have annual talk-like-a-pirate day fer chrissakes!), they’re cool, they’re rock and roll, and we have a lot to thank Mr Depp and his shipmates for in raising their profile. And I, like everyone else I know probably, amn’t going to settle for a run of the mill seafaring adventure story. I mean how many opportunities to you get to write something like this? No, it has to be special…
I’m really looking forward to what variations all these cool writers will inevitably come up with on the theme, but I just hope that people are not going to be disappointed when they a buy a book of Pirate Stories and they find all this neat, out-there stuff instead of twenty-two Pirates of The Caribbean rip-offs. Are they, in the words of Little Britain’s Mr Mann, going to be looking for something “a bit more piratey”?
See, I enjoyed the PoTC movies (yea, even in their disneyfication), and their antecedent, the marvelous Burt Lancaster vehicle, The Crimson Pirate is one of my favourite movies, but the more I think about this, what interests me is the yawning gulf that lies between the colourful, wisecracking, slightly-dangerous-but-that-just-makes-them-more-sexually-attractive jack tars of popular conception and Real Uncompromising Bastard Pirates.
You can tell I’ve not really thought this through, so I’ll give it a rest for now, but it’ll likely form the basis of my story, which otherwise is going to be clothed in the guise of an MGM Pirate musical.
Because when it comes down to it, at the end of the day, Pirates are fun after all.