Your task is to take the story about how evil comes into the world, the story King tells about the Witches’ convention in Chapter One of The Truth about Stories, and change it any way you want, except the ending. You can change to place, the people, the time – anything you want. But, your story must have the same moral – it must tell us how evil came into the world and how once a story is told, it cannot be taken back.
First, learn your story by heart, and then tell the story to your friends and family.
After you have told the story a few times, post a blog with your version of the story and some commentary on what you discovered about story telling.
I have a great story to tell you, it is the story of how evil came into the world. You might think you know this story, but I can assure you, you’ve never heard it quite like this before.
It happened in a place on this earth that no human has ever seen, at the beginning of time when the earth was mostly covered in water. Because there was no land at this point, there were also no humans. But there were human-like creatures of great intelligence, and great power. Mermaids we might call them, but not the type that sit on rocks and sing beautiful songs.
No, these mermaids are ancient creatures who know all the secrets of the sea, and the land which came after it. And it just so happens that they know all about how evil came into the world, because they are the ones responsible.
It happened like this: a few of the oldest and wisest mermaids from all over the world came together in a cave in the deepest part of the ocean. They were having contests of all sorts: Who could create the prettiest seashell? Who could summon the largest wave? Who could control an entire school of fish?
Finally the mermaids decided on one final contest: who could create the scariest thing in the entire ocean?
Each took their turn, trying to create the scariest thing, and each outdoing the last. This is actually how some of the scariest creatures in the ocean came to exist!
Finally there was only one mermaid left, who was one of the oldest and most mysterious mermaid in the ocean. And all this mermaid had was a story, but it was a terrible story about disease, murder, treachery, and blood magic. The list of awful things in this story seemed to go on and on.
The rest of the mermaids decided that this story was the winner, the scariest thing in the entire ocean. But they were not interested in having this story loose in the world, they all agreed that it was too terrible to live with. So they ordered the wise old mermaid to take the story back.
“I can not do that,” the old mermaid replied.
“Once a story is told it can not be called back. It will now be loose in the world forever.”
– – –
Storytelling was a new experience for me. For my whole life its been someone else telling the story and me being the listener. Even before I was about to tell my story to my parents, brother, and sister, we all had some fond memories to recall about our family’s own experiences with storytelling.
My dad would always tell us the story of “Pirate Pete” in the summers as we sat around a campfire at our cottage in Ontario. We would all howl with laughter every time he ended the story with explaining how Pirate Pete got his glass eye (“aye, a seagull pooped in me eye!”).
Reminiscing about the adventures of Pirate Pete oddly allowed me to draw some sharper observations about the nature of story telling. I noticed that the storyteller has a lot of freedom in how the story is delivered, but it is very important that the ending is delivered more or less the same.
I definitely added to, and rephrased certain parts of my story as I went along, but I was careful to make sure the ending was the same as how I initially intended for it to be. In the same way, with my dad’s Pirate Pete stories, we all counted on that same ending to make us laugh.
So whether the purpose of an ending is to make us laugh, or to give us something to think about, it seems that the endings of stories that we tell orally have a lot of power. So I guess that is really the point of the moral of our stories: be careful of the ones you tell, for once it is told it cannot be called back.
note: I was looking for a good picture of mermaids to accompany this post, but nothing really caught my eye. However, I did find this interesting article about mermaid legends. Check it out! There are stories about mermaids from cultures all over the world!
Radford, Benjamin, “Mermaids and Mermen: Facts and Legends”. Live Science: November 15 2014. Web. May 29 2016.
“Rolling Waves in Deep Ocean”. Shutterstock Photo. n.d. Web. May 29 2016.