other day I was going home from work and I was behind a truck that had some
bumper stickers that gave me an idea of what the driver was like.So I started thinking how they would react if
they saw a car with, basically, the opposite type of bumper sticker.This led to a really, really, bad joke.The kind of joke that could be taken a couple
of different ways so it would have offended several, even opposing, groups of
people.As I drove home I tried to
condense everything down to a tweet, along the lines of “Which group would be
offended most by a bumper sticker reading: X.”
when two problems cropped up.The first
was that the “joke” was too long to really fit in a tweet.But the second, bigger problem was that the
“joke” – which I had spent minutes patting myself on the back for its
cleverness – wasn’t that funny.The
jokey bit of the joke was in that gray area of humor between something most
people would automatically see what’s funny and where you’d have to give a
little hint so they would know where to look for the funny bit.
does that have to do with writing?I
don’t know how many times I’ve had an idea for “The Great American Short Story,”
or whatever which I think is absolutely fantastic.But after thinking about it for a bit I’ll
realize that the stunning plot twist doesn’t make any sense or the deep meaning
the work is supposed to have isn’t all that deep.Sometimes these realizations come up almost
immediately, but sometimes they’re days or weeks later.Meaning if I had immediately started working
on this “incredible” new story, whatever I had written might have ended up in
the “Never to be finished, and that’s probably for the best” pile.
I’m not saying that everything you write has to be fantastic.But the shininess of newness disguises many
“bad” ideas. So take a bit of time and
see if that fantastic idea is really all that fantastic.
One day a king and his entourage went out
on a hunt.They rode past a hillside
where three sisters were watching their cattle.The oldest pointed to the king and said if she didn’t have him, she’d
have none.Her two sisters followed with
two of his ministers.The king heard
this and had the three brought to his castle.Since they were all beautiful, the king and his ministers married them.
Sometime later, the king left on business
and asked the sisters to stay with the queen, who was about to give birth.She gave birth to a boy who “brought a bright
red star into the world.” The two sisters decided to drown the boy.After they threw him in the river a bird flew
up and sang of their doom.
When the king came back, the sisters said
“the Queen had been delivered of a dog.” The king wrote it off as God’s will.
But the boy didn’t drown, and was found by
a fisherman.Since the fisherman and his
wife had no kids, they raised him as their own.
This was repeated again a year later with
another little boy, and again with a little girl.This time, when told the queen had given
birth to a cat, the king had her locked up.
Years past and the oldest boy finds out
that he was a foundling.So he sets out
to find his real father.After walking
for days he came to a large body of water where an old woman fished.He said she’d wouldn’t catch anything, and
she said that he’d spend a long time seeking his father.She then carried him over the water and he
kept searching for years.
A year later, the second son set out to
find his brother.And the same thing
Their sister was worried for them and so
also set out to find them.When she came
to the old woman, she wished her luck fishing.This was what the old woman was waiting for.She then gave the girl a wand and some
instructions.The instructions were:
follow a road, pass a big black dog without laughing or looking at it, come to
a castle, drop the wand on the threshold, go through the castle, go to a
fountain with a tree growing out of it and a bird in a cage on a branch, take
the cage, grab a glass of water from the fountain, go back through the castle,
pick up the wand, when she passes the dog again hit him in the face with it,
and come back to the old woman.
The girl did all this, and on her way back
from the castle she found her two brothers.When she hit the black dog, it turned into a prince who followed them
back to the old woman.The old woman
carried them over the water again, and then disappeared because she was
free.They all went back home to the fisherman
and hung up the bird in his cage.
One day the second son when hunting, where
he met the king.The king asked him who
he was, and the boy said the son of the fisherman.But the king knew the fisherman had no
son.So he went to the fisherman who
told him the story of how he found his children.Then the bird in the cage sang of how the
queen’s sisters had tried to kill his children.
They all went to the castle and had the
prison opened.But the queen was ill, so
the daughter gave her the glass of water from the fountain which healed
her.The two evil sisters were burned,
and the daughter married the dog/prince.
What’s the deal with the “bright red star?”
It’s so important, it doesn’t come up again.
So these sisters decide – on a whim – to kill
When they “kill” their first nephew, a
bird sings of their doom.So they decide
to do it again.
I thought the whole, knock the mother out
during birth thing was from like the 50s.I mean, how else would she not know what she had given birth to.
The king never asks the queen why she’s
giving birth to dogs and a cat?
I’m curious what story the old woman was
from, what with this long list of specific instructions to break her free from
a spell.You’d think she would have
needed the glass of water, but no, that was just … an added bonus the old woman
gave them to save their mother?
I figured the dog would be her older
brother and her other brother the bird.But no, she just finds them on the road.The dog is a prince and the bird is a … magic singing bird.
So the king knows that this random
fisherman has no sons, but never heard of how he raised two sons and a
So the daughter just kept a glass of water
for … months probably.
What happened to the other two birds?
So the dog/prince was just there so the
daughter would have someone to marry?