Paulelmo's Blog

Dancin’ with the Girl who Brung Ya

So let’s talk about this novel for a minute. As I mentioned in the post about “The Downtime,” (which should probably be read before this post, come to think of it) it was going under the title The Situation with Phillip, which I still like and which may turn out to be the title ultimately, but it’s now going by the title of Dancin’ with the Girl who Brung Ya.

The fiction of the novel is based on an expansion of Dr. Duncan MacDougall’s scientific study from 1901, which brought about the notion that the human soul weighs 21 grams. This study is also the basis of the 2003 film 21 Grams, starring Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, and Benecio Del Toro.

MacDougall weighed terminal tuberculosis patients before and after death, and while only four of the six sets of data were viable and the experiment has never been duplicated, we’re still talking about it 116 years later. The accepted loss of weight at death taken from the study is 21 grams, which is about as much as five nickels.

In the fiction my piece, a disturbed man, Jeffrey,  has come to the conclusion that it isn’t the soul that has physical weight, but the stress of life. He has revived Macdougal’s experiment, but instead of using willing patients who are dying of natural causes, he kidnaps his victims, keeps them for a calendar month, and then kills them.

Phillip is his potential 39th victim. The action picks up on March 28th, which makes the story a nice contained three-day period. Giving myself the confines of that short and set period of time was really helpful in helping me keep it going and ending it without feeling the need to write beyond that.

Like many serial killers, Jeffrey believes he has been called by God to do this work, and he believes the potential benefit of his study will outweigh the deaths of his subjects. In fact, these two men know each other from church, and I believe that the offsetting of the faith of each is the crux of the story.

And that’s pretty much it; it’s so self-contained that it could be performed as a play.

If you get a chance, leave me a comment to let me know if this sounds like it might be an interesting read to you.

Keep us in your prayers, and we’ll keep you in ours.

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