Tales Within Tales - Part 1 of ?

Two weekends ago I stayed with my aunt to be closer to the wedding that I was officiating for my cousin. Since I don't have a radio in my car I had a few hours to think about writing ideas on the drive over. I've been wanting to try this crazy idea for awhile, so we worked on it while I was there.

I want to use fables and fairy tales in a multi-layered frame story. I'll talk about what that is in a moment. I wrote down the fables and fairy tales that jumped to mind.

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The 3 Little Pigs
Humpty Dumpty
Little Red Riding Hood
Pietr and the Dike
The Fox and the Grapes
The Boy Who Cried Wolf

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A frame story is when you have a story within a story. For instance, you have a character walk into a bar and he starts talking to someone. This other person begins to tell a story. We become fully immersed into the other story and that's what the book is mostly about. At the end we usually pop back out into the bar scene before the book ends. Frame devices are used in all kinds of stories from the movie "Titanic" to the collection "The Arabian Nights".

As Karen and I worked through how to connect these ideas I ended up just eliminating "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" because it wouldn't fit. I'm also surprised that we didn't think of "The Tortoise and the Hare" until after I had already connected all of these stories.

I worked through it verbally first and then started jotting down notes. Here's the order that I came up with: 1) The 3 Little Pigs 2) Little Red Riding Hood 3) The Boy Who Cried Wolf 4) Pietr and the Dike 5) Humpty Dumpty 6) The Fox and the Grapes.

Now remember, I'm going to start telling the next story in the middle of the current story, and then do that again until I get all the way through. But, when I get all the way through the list I have to come back out. The coming back out of the stories is a difficult problem to solve, but I made some progress. I'm going to include my notes on how I think this can work.

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1 - In "The 3 Little Pigs" we go through having the wolf knock the first house down. The first pig goes to his brother's house. The first brother tells the second brother how the wolf came and blew his house down. The wolf shows up and just wants to come in to talk. The second brother is open to the idea, he's deceived and arrogant. The first brother tells the story of "Little Red Riding Hood" to show that wolves are dangerous and deceptive.

2 - In "Little Red Riding Hood" Red gets to grandmother's house. She's a little suspicious when talking to the wolf, who has taken the grandmother's place. The wolf tells the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" to show how there really aren't very many wolves so there's no reason to be scared or suspicious.

3 - In "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" the boy is bored. He calls "Wolf!" to entertain himself at the expense of the villagers. The villagers are angry and one of them tells him the story of "Pietr and the Dike" to show how responsibility can save the entire village, and that it's a valued member of the community who carries out their duty.

4 - In "Pietr and the Dike" Pietr is out for a walk when he sees a small leak in the dam. He puts his finger in it to plug it. Finally, someone comes by and tells Pietr the story of "Humpty Dumpty" to relate how the village has become complacent and arrogant about safety.

5 - In "Humpty Dumpty" Humpty Dumpty is sitting on a wall when someone walks by. The person suggests that he should get down because it's dangerous. Humpty Dumpty tells her that she's just jealous that she can't be on the wall. Humpty Dumpty tells the story of "The Fox and the Grapes" to show how we become resentful when we can't have what we want.

6 - In "The Fox and the Grapes" the fox tries to jump and grab some grapes. He can't. So, he becomes resentful and says that he hates grapes anyway.

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At this point we've gone all the way down the rabbit hole, and now we need to come back out. I think this is possibly the harder thing to do.

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5 - After Humpty Dumpty tells the story about the fox and the grapes he then falls off the wall. Lol, I think that is funny and ironic.

4 - In the story about Pietr and the dike I think I'll need to sum it up and say that the dike was fixed and the town was saved without showing all of that. ("Show, don't tell." as a blanket statement is completely false. Read a good book and you'll notice it's a mix.)

3 - In the story about the boy who cried wolf I will have the wolf never show up, so the story doesn't end in the normal way. This is because there is another wolf telling the story showing how wolves aren't really a threat. Oh the deception.

2 - In the story about Red and the wolf, the wolf eats Red. This proves the first brother's point about wolves being deceptive and dangerous.

1 - In the pigs' story the second house is then knocked down and the brothers escape to the third brother's house. The first brother can say, "I told you so."

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And there it is. That's the basic idea. It seems like it might work. It also seems like it might not work. Either way it's interesting.

My aunt Karen pointed out that another layered set of stories could be done at the last brother's house. It's an intriguing idea. I'll have to work on this first set more and see how it goes before I tackle that.


You can find more of what I'm doing at http://www.JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com


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