Tasteless Writing Prompts

By Laird Ogden

There was a recent controversy around pre-production work being done on a movie inspired by the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in mid-December last year.  Now, taking the director of the upcoming made-for-TV movie for his word, this movie is about the effects of the event (which may not even be referred to specifically, so the audience is free to pick from the myriad of recent school shootings) on a young boy and his parents in terms of the paranoia and stress that such news would cause.  Of course, people are “outraged” that someone would deign to make fiction based on the tragedy.

This news, of course, begs several questions.  The really well-worn one is “how long is okay?”  Movies were made about the RMS Titanic almost immediately whereas it took about five years for such to be done about September 11. Do war movies fall into the same category?

The other question is: what kinds of fiction can be told based on this event?  Well, let’s give it a shot (skewing more towards the sci-fi/fantasy side of things):

  1. Someone breaks into a school and opens fire, one child emerges unscathed after enduring a hail of bullets.  The gunman looks at the kid in disbelief, who walks up to the man and taunts him with “I have an invisible forcefield!”
  2. A young man has been gathering evidence about a gun smuggling ring with ties to the government.  Somehow, everything seems to lead back to an innocuous elementary school in the middle of a well-to-do neighborhood.  He breaks in one day, and is horrified to find that the school is merely a front.  Inside, children are receiving training from soldiers posing as teachers to groom them into super soldiers.  A shootout ensues, however to cover up the true nature of the school the government pins the whole thing on a lone nut.
  3. A variant of the above one would be that someone discovers proof that a super villain is posing as an elementary school teacher.  When he confronts her at the school she orders the children, who she’s brainwashed, to attack him. He defends himself, at the cost of the children’s lives, but is ultimately defeated.  The public reviles man, consoling themselves with the thought that the tragedy could have been worse.  They don’t know the true horror is still to come!

Yeah, I guess these are of the cheesy “Twilight Zone”-ish twist ending variety.  They’d all be considered horrible attempts to capitalize on a tragedy … because people just don’t have much imagination.  


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