What’s missing from the time travel romantic comedy genre? A harsh dystopia. What if every manic pixie dream girl, was secretly a talent scout from the future? What if someone told you your magnum opus finds an audience long after you die? This story is a commentary on where I think the entertainment industry is headed.
Hand me the keys to the Delorean and I’ll show you an alternate timeline. Here’s some of the irresponsible things I’d do with a time machine.
My Time Travel Romantic Comedy Pitch
This isn’t a synopsis, it’s a loose pitch, a parade of plot points, a poll of possibilities. If you think it’s something worth developing, say so in the comments.
Logline: A publicist travels back in time to seduce an author whose fame was achieved after his death. Her firm specializes in corrupting these unsung geniuses with stardom, and reaping in the profits.
In the not too distant future: every film, TV show, and video game is based on an established work. New intellectual properties are considered risky investments. The corporations with the most time-honored masterpieces in their vaults own the entertainment industry.
Ashlynn is a scout for a publishing firm. Charged with copywriting classics before they enter into the public domain, she gets to these stories before their audience can. Violating restrictions on time travel, her firm has offices that stretch back to the dawn of the printing press.
Ashlynn specializes in finding authors who gained notoriety after their deaths. Traveling to when they were in their prime, she wins them over with sweet talk, and publishing contracts. For minuscule costs in the past, she reaps massive benefits for the future.
Ashlynn’s firm is responsible for an alternate reality where Edgar Allen Poe lives to become a bored true crime author, where H.P. Lovecraft struggles to step out of the shadow of his Cthulhu mythos, and fame gives Henry David Thoreau a new found affection for the big city.
Ashlynn pressures Herman Melville into writing a sequel to Moby Dick. It undermines the original’s message, turning the series into a precursor for Jaws.
As a scout, Ashlynn does her best to avoid the firm’s temporal agents, dark figures who travel back in time to enforce the firm’s agenda. They make sure their golden geese keep laying eggs. Whenever an author has a flight of fancy, these shadow figures clip their wings. Sabotaging lives, the agents put these writers back in front of the blank page. The firm regards their authors, who would never have achieved acclaim without them, as their prose spewing property.
Ashlynn watches the agents detain Emily Dickinson, when she tries to burn her journals. She sees them catch Franz Kafka trying to do the same. When he writes about their “Kafkaesque” time bending schemes, she’s surprised to find they publish it as it is.
Ashlynn thwarts Sylvia Plath’s suicide attempt. The agents throw her client into a padded cell, where the price of daylight is a page of poetry.