The Writer's Desk: Loosely Based (Part 2)

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Click here for the first installment of “The Writer’s Desk: Loosely Based.”

By Nikola Jajic—I began writing Loosely Based in 2006: during that period and leading up to the actual writing of the script, I was reading a lot of Paul Auster, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman—while also watching a lot of the old Twilight Zone episodes. I suppose the mix of these influences was partially responsible for the book going in the direction that it did.

I wanted to write a supernatural thriller, one filled with un-likeable characters getting their just do. I also wanted the book to work as a metaphor for the creative process, while also having a bit of a meta-fictional quality to it. I remember finishing the novel Leviathan by Paul Auster right before I began writing Loosely Based. Thinking back on it now, I suppose that’s why Duncan became a struggling writer, and why his creations quite literally came to life. As homage to the book, Duncan’s friend and fellow writer was given the last name of “Sachs,” which he happens to share with a certain character from Leviathan as well.

The resulting Loosely Based tells the story of Duncan Moreno, an author who gets a bit of help from a mysterious muse.

Duncan's relationship with this muse has transformed him from a struggling writer to the best selling author of The Casanova Killer. Unfortunately, it comes with a price. When Duncan's main characters come to life and confront him, all his success and fame won't mean a thing, and Duncan's world is forever changed.

Here are pages seven through twelve of Loosely Based, excepted from the first chapter, “The Price to Pay.”

Page Seven (Four Panels):

Panel 1. Duncan is smiling at Maggie nervously.

DUNCAN: That sounds good to me!

MAGGIE: Really, what sounds good to you?

Panel 2. Duncan is flustered, and Maggie is very angry.


MAGGIE: No! You do this all the time! That’s it, I’m leaving!

Panel 3. Maggie is standing up and grabbing her purse.

MAGGIE: Goodbye!

Panel 4. Maggie says this dialogue while storming out of the restaurant in the foreground. Duncan is in the background near the bar when she storms off, halfheartedly calling out to her.

DUNCAN: We drove together!

MAGGIE: See if the bartender will drive you home!
Page Eight (Six Panels):

Panel 1. Duncan is facing the bartender (FRANK) and stares at him with an annoyed expression.

DUNCAN: Do we know each other?!

FRANK: I don’t believe so.

Panel 2. This is a shot of Frank nonchalantly drying a glass behind the bar.

DUNCAN (Off Panel): Are you a fan or something?

FRANK: Uhhh… Fan of what?

Panel 3. This is similar to the last panel. Duncan is still annoyed off panel; Frank is still occupied with drying a glass.

DUNCAN (Off Panel): Of my books!

FRANK: You’re a writer?

Panel 4. Duncan throws up his arms with annoyance while talking. Frank just continues drying a glass.

DUNCAN: Oh for chrissakes! Yes! You didn’t just smile and nod at me?

FRANK: Yeah, I suppose I did.

Panel 5. Duncan is annoyed, Frank even-keeled, while they continue talking.

DUNCAN: Well, what for?

FRANK: Because you were staring at me. It was a bit uncomfortable.

Panel 6. Duncan is sitting at the bar. He looks exhausted by it all.

DUNCAN (Sigh): Dirty Martini on the rocks.

FRANK: Sure.

Page Nine (Four Panels):

Panel 1. Duncan is walking down a hotel hallway with his assistant Laura; he’s trying to call Maggie on his cell phone.

CAP: The next day.

DUNCAN: Un-fucking believable! Now she’s screening my calls! She overreacts to every little thing!

DUNCAN: Do you know one time she withheld sex for damn near a month, because I forgot to flush! She doesn’t even live with me!

Panel 2. Duncan turns and looks at Laura.

DUNCAN: Given it had been after a night of Indian food, and Bloody Mary’s… but still, a week?

LAURA: That’s awful sir… Larry King’s people called. If you’re still interested, we can do it tomorrow.

Panel 3. Duncan dials her number again.

DUNCAN: This is so juvenile! Hello?! What is with her?! (In a mumble) Fucking wedding invitations. 

Panel 4. Laura is looking concerned at Duncan.

LAURA: We have to be ready for the “Late night with Mike” interview in a couple of hours, Mr. Moreno.

Page Ten (Four Panels):

Panel 1. Duncan and Laura get to his hotel room door. He looks at her.

DUNCAN: Come get me when my clothes are ready for tonight, and I will not be wearing pink again! Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to meditate.

LAURA: Yes sir, Mr. Moreno.

Panel 2. He opens the door and begins entering the room.

DUNCAN: Duncan is fine Laura.

Panel 3. This is a small panel, Duncan’s eyes are closed and it’s black all around him.

Panel 4. Duncan is meditating, his eyes open and they’re all black (or all white, which ever looks better) in his darkened room, with candles burning all around him.

CAP: I call for her…

Page Eleven (Four Panels):

Panel 1. The smoke from the candles starts swirling above and around him. The muse’s voice comes from this swirling smoke. Duncan’s eyes are always all white or all black when he contacts the muse, so it looks more like an otherworldly experience.

MUSE VOICE: I sense doubt in you Duncan.

DUNCAN: What am I to do next, Muse? I’m beginning to worry…

Panel 2. This is a very large panel of Duncan still meditating, but now the ghost form of the muse floats and slowly circles around him.

MUSE: We do what we must…

MUSE: Our children call to you… Do you hear them?

DUNCAN: Tell me you don’t mean what I think you do.

MUSE: They yearn to be with you… More than that, they yearn to be like you…Among you.

Panel 3. The Muse is still swirling around Duncan, while he meditates.

DUNCAN: I have no children…

Panel 4. A small panel, close up on Duncan with his eyes open, they’re black or white (whichever looks more eerie) concentrating and saying this dialogue.

DUNCAN: And you promised me this wouldn’t happen!

Page Twelve (Four Panels):

Panel 1. This is a bigger panel with Duncan still meditating and the muse still swirling around behind him and over his shoulders.

MUSE: You heard his warnings. Yet you still sought my aid. You have given our creation to the masses, but in doing this the masses feed our children… It’s never enough.

DUNCAN: Speak to me clearly! You told me that I wasn’t going to end up like him!

Panel 2. Close up on the muse’s face.

MUSE:  You won’t… but nonetheless, they seek you out…

Panel 3. Duncan is startled by the knocking at the door, the muse vanishes and the candles blow out.

SFX: Knock-knock

LAURA: Sir? It’s Laura!

Panel 4. Duncan is looking at the door, angered that the knocking broke his concentration.

DUNCAN: Hold On! I’m coming, goddamnit!

Loosely Based was published by Arcana Studio in 2010 and retails at $14.95.

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