Rewrite? BUT and THEREFORE
Relearning Something I Already Knew
So, what constitutes a story?
There’s a famous quote from John le Carre.
“The cat sat on the mat is not a story. The cat sat on the other cat’s mat is a story.”
Something popped into your head, right? Maybe something happened before this. Or, something happens later.
We just started to create a story.
And, if we add a list of things, we can see begin to transform our idea into a story. Here is what popped into my head.
|The Humane Society rescues litter mates Star and Rocky.|
|The Wu family adopts Star and Rocky.|
|The Wu’s give Star and Rocky separate mats.|
|Star sits on Rocky’s mat.|
Do we have a story, or a list?
Well…things happened, and Star winds up on Rocky’s mat. On the other hand, we lack stakes, tension, or conflict.
How could we build on our list?
Let’s try something the South Park writers use when creating their episodes. The net once contained numerous references to their approach, and I suppose that’s behind the paywall now. Still, we can see the heart of their approach. And it starts with adding one word at the beginning of each sentence after the beginning — BUT or THEREFORE. When we do that, we teeter on the verge of a story.
|ONCE UPON A TIME, the Humane Society rescues litter mates Star and Rocky.|
|BUT, the Wu family adopts Star and Rocky.|
|THEREFORE, The Wu’s give Star and Rocky separate mats.|
|BUT, Rocky dies.|
|BUT, Star sits on Rocky’s mat.|
Do we have a story yet?
We cannot see any consequence yet, how characters react to the change, and their struggle to restore balance. And I suspect the South Park crew goes deeper with the paying section. And, being a poor writer, I must muddle through as best I can.
If we tried adding another phrase, AND THEN, what would our list look like?
|ONCE UPON A TIME, the Humane Society rescues litter mates Star and Rocky.||AND THEN the Vet inspected them and discovered Rocky had a heart defect, then they were vaccinated, groomed, fed, made warm and dry, and settled into their new lives.|
|BUT, the Wu family adopts Star and Rocky.||AND THEN taken home to live in a house with two children, Eric, and Sharon, also suffering from a heart ailment, and became comfort animals.|
|THEREFORE, The Wu’s give Star and Rocky separate mats.||AND THEN put one in Eric’s room, and one in Sharon’s room, and Rocky chose Sharon’s room.|
|BUT, Rocky dies.||AND THEN Star grieved, and the entire Wu family felt very sad, especially Sharon, with no kitty to comfort her.|
|BUT, Star sits on Rocky’s mat.||AND THEN both Star and Sharon grieved with one heart.|
Did we just write a story?
Maybe, next time, I will expand on this idea with my own story.