One night, as I was drifting off to sleep, and stray thoughts bounced around in my head, I had this thought: Michael Myers was framed.

I followed that train of thought. How was he framed?

Judith’s boyfriend framed him. The boyfriend, after his thirty seconds of non-spectacular sex, started to leave, but Judith didn’t want him to go. She wanted more than just brief PIV from a one-pump chump. They had an altercation. Ego bruised, he exited out the front door. But he didn’t leave. He came around through the back door, grabbing one of the kitchen knives. He stabbed her to death. (That would certainly explain why the camera angle was from a 6’4″ tall man rather than a 4′ tall six-year-old boy, right?)

Judith’s cry, “Michael!” was not for the boy to stop, but for the boy to get help. Michael froze. He didn’t know what to do. The boyfriend wiped off his fingerprints from the knife, handed it to Michael, and left.

Michael witnessed it. Traumatized and accused, Michael walked out the front door and stood there, waiting for his parents. But he couldn’t tell them what happened. His voice just didn’t want to work. He never spoke again.

The police came, and through laziness, they blamed the child. Since Michael didn’t speak, a mental health assessment was called for. He was admitted to Smith’s Grove where he would languish under the inept ministrations of Dr. Samuel Loomis: a man more interested in profits and prestige than the health and well-being of a young boy.

Michael spent 15 years in Loomis’s care, which was slipshod at best and malignant at worst. When Loomis couldn’t reach him, he did what every shitty therapists does: blame the patient.

For 15 years, Michael was left to stare out the window, towards home, where his big sister was killed. He went on to escape to Haddonfield and recreated the murders when he turned 21 years old. Why?

Perhaps an attempt to tell Loomis that he was not born evil, but 15 years of neglect and calling him evil turned him into a bogeyman. Loomis created the demon, rather than reaching out to a traumatized child.

Because Loomis failed, being an incompetent therapist, Michael only got more and more unwell. He could not be saved.

BAM. My eyes opened. I sat up. That train of thought kept me awake for a while.

Admittedly, Michael Myers was not framed. We know in the original film (not the Rob Zombie reboot), Michael was the one who stabbed his sister, Judith, to death. (Loomis was still incompetent. That didn’t change.)

But as a writer, I enjoy playing with possibilities. With hypothetical exploration of a theme that’s been done, you can come up with all kinds of new stories. Apply them to new characters of your own invention, et voila—you have yourself a brand new story.

There are no new ideas under the sun. Everything you read, see, experience has been done before. It’s the presentation of those ideas that matters.

Nightmare on Elm Street? A retelling of the Pied Piper.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus? Faust.

Halloween? Literally any bogeyman story told from the beginning of time.

If you were to retell this particular bogeyman story from this perspective, Michael would become an almost sympathetic villain. Almost, because he would still have to choose whether or not to go kill a bunch of 17-18 year old girls/young women. But in this light, he wouldn’t be so evil, would he? Instead, our real villain would be Loomis.

Something I’ve been saying for a while. Michael might be the embodiment of evil for the purposes of this story, but the adults who should have been protecting him and caring for him are culpable. That’s my own, former therapist’s bias at play here. But it could make way for a whole new, standalone story that’s inspired by Halloween but entirely yours.

This is why ideas cannot be stolen. Iterations of those ideas have existed since time began for humans, and everyone will tell the story differently. In 1816, Percy Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, Lord Byron and John Polidori set out to write their own horror tales. The idea was the same—to create a monster—and the stories came out differently (two unfinished, one vampire tale by Lord Byron, and Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin).

When you’re telling a story or you want to tell a story but you’re stuck, the best advice any writer can give to another is this: pick a story that inspires you and ask “what if?”

Here are a few hypothetical prompts to get you started:

  • What if you told the Pied Piper story but with New Orleans voodoo?
  • What if you recounted the Big Bad Wolf but it took place in a dystopian society set in 2099 CE?
  • What if the Wizard of Oz took place in a haunted meat-packing plant?

You can take any basic idea and rework it to suit your world, fit your purposes. For some writers, this is a more direct way to defeating writer’s block.

Possibilities. They’re endless.