We’re hitting the home stretch of National Novel Writing Month. Anyone trying to reach the 50,000 word goal needs to be about 38,341 words in by now, especially if you’re planning to take a break for your turkey-induced nap on Thursday.
I, on the other hand, already promised not to write a novel, so I’ve been turning everything within reach orange instead. See, last month I was given this forty-pound Fairytale pumpkin:
So far, the first two thirds have become three pies, three meals, three dozen cookies, and three pounds of puree for later use, plus a light spray of pumpkin paste on every surface in the kitchen.
It’s important to do my part for promoting literature, though, and I still have a crate full of spiral notebooks from elementary school. Unlike every word I wrote in high school, all of this stuff happened long enough ago that by now it’s cute instead of mortifying.
Cowrite credit on the masterpiece below goes to my brother, who was six when I was nine. He had written the original story and shown it to me. Being older, obviously superior, and entirely without my own ideas, I decided that his version was dumb and I could improve it.
The first-grader was thus responsible for the character names, setting, and plot, including all events and strategies. I was in charge of dialog tags, adjectives, and stealing the phrase “calm yourself” from Disney’s Jafar.
Our mother didn’t think my exploitative reimagining was fair, but with that reasoning Hollywood would have had to close up shop twenty years ago.
Hello. My name is Ted. We are here in TechnoWorld. Here are Ringtail, Dabson, and Exo-Cuter. We are investigators. We are on a case. We have to find the person who is scaring everyone in TechnoWorld.Uh-oh. Dabson, do you hear what I hear? It’s the Evil Howl! We’ve got to find who’s doing it to complete our mission! Dabson, get behind this rock. Ringtail, climb that big tree and find out if you can see the culprit from there. Exo-Cuter and I will go out and find the noise-maker. We need you to tell us where to go.“A-a little to the right,” said Ringtail. “Now straight, and to the left,” came Dabson’s deep voice from behind the large rock. “Now! You’ve got him! Throw the net over him!” cried Ringtail again, suddenly excited. “Who is he? Why was he scaring all of TechnoWorld?”“Calm yourself, Ringtail,” said Exo-Cuter slowly. “He says his name is ThunderBeast, and that he was howling for someone to help him find the person who wants to steal the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, back on Earth.”“Oh, Earth,” said Dabson sarcastically. “Why would we want to go back there? Didn’t we all come to TechnoWorld to get away from Earth?”“Now, Dabson,” reasoned Ringtail, “our new friend is right. We can’t just let it be stolen.”“You’re right, Ringtail,” I broke in. “But he isn’t exactly our friend. I mean, do you think that we can trust him?”“Of course we can’t,” agreed Dabson. “Didn’t you hear him howling out there?”“Calm yourself,” said Exo-Cuter a little less slowly. “Let’s trust him for now. If he tries to hurt us later, then leave him behind. But for now, let’s save the statue!”“Yeh,” shouted Ringtail and I together. And that was only the beginning of our adventure to Earth.
My brother’s original version of the story sews it up with this tidy ending:
All of a sudden, ZAP! We’re at a race. Let’s race in it. We won!
I, on the other hand, made it my own by applying my trademark inability to finish writing anything. It's clearly better this way.
The tale of TechnoWorld teaches three important lessons:
- Stealing from weaker people is the best source of creative material.
- Howling is evil.
- Exo-Cuter is the voice of reason and justice.
Happy Thanksgiving, and good luck to any novel writers.