The only thing I like more than writing is talking about writing as if I know what I’m doing.
I’ve written Man VS Horse before, and I’ve started writing it anew more times than I can recall. I’m never quite satisfied with it, because I feel like the premise deserves better. I’m always intrigued by stories of people who run hundreds or thousands of miles, and racing a horse is a visceral challenge anyone can get goosebumps for. But my tries were always missing something.
So, I turned to my toolkit. Maybe there was a similar story I’d recently read, or tried to write, which could donate its blood to my project. I’ll borrow from enough sources and put enough spin on them to make something I can pretend is unique.
I found inspiration in Stephen King’s Misery and the anime Kaiji: The Ultimate Survivor. They’ll both show me how to raise the stakes, and Misery might help me translate Kaiji‘s tone into text. The first time I wrote Man VS Horse the protagonist only had money on the line. In Kaiji and Misery, the heroes often face physical harm. Our ultra-marathoner won’t have the funds to make a million-dollar bet, and he’ll have to ante his legs. The eccentric billionaire who takes the bet will have his eccentricity dialed all the way up to the point that such wagers excite him.
Maybe the stakes of this wager won’t be obvious to the reader right away. I think our hero’s pulled a fast one and convinced the rich guy on horseback he’s good for the money if he loses. When it’s revealed our hero’s broke, say, around mile 20, the rich guy cuts a deal for his limbs.
Of course, our hero wins in the end. That’s how things usually go, right? But he can’t be allowed to win unscathed. Running a hundred miles is brutal enough on its own, but our hero needs the kitchen sink tossed at him.
“Man VS Horse” is a working title. I’ll probably change it. Or, maybe, I’ll get attached to it and decide it’s perfect.