Preface. Embedded at the beginning is a story called Only a Boy Named David that I tell my children, only to become embroiled in a huge argument, whereupon I challenge my daughter to a storytelling competition in which I clearly emerge victorious, but she disagrees and therefore I educate her about the dramatic arc of traditional storytelling; the outcome being that there is no clear resolution, making this an unfinished tragedy, so if you were wanting to avoid any spoilers then it's too late, but the good news is now you can skip the rest because you know the ending. The Story. Okay, I'm going to tell you a story. (I tell my children) A very short story. So, once upon a time, I was a boy, and I was at somebody's house, and there was another boy there. His name was David. We'll pretend his name was David. When I say ''we'll pretend his name was David,' then what I mean is that his name was actually David. We were walking around, and I don't know how it came up, but he said: "I'm a very fast runner." I said: Oh really. I like to run too. And he said: "Well I'm faster than you." We should race. I said. He said: "Yeah, well I'm faster than you." I could tell by his walking that he was not faster than me. We should race. I suggested again. I don't recall what happened, probably lunch or something, but we never raced. To this day, I have no idea what his last name is. I just have a vision of this little boy named David, shuffling along, telling me that he was faster, and knowing in my heart that it was not true. I would like to find David and race him now. I know that I would still beat him because I am faster. David: if you're out there, and you ever lived in Tillamook County - specifically Manzanita - then I challenge you to a race. The moral of this story - are you ready for the moral of this story, children? My daughter interrupts: "Can you tell another one?!"
(I ignore her.) The moral of the story is this: first of all, life is not a competition. So don't make everything a competition where you have to beat somebody. Second of all, if somebody says they can defeat you at something, and you know you can actually beat them, then just go ahead and do it right then and there and make your life a competition. Go ahead and compete against them. Don't wait. I should have raced David right then and there so I could have defeated him and been done with it. But we didn't. So even though I know that I won, or would have won, then he didn't know that I would have won. He thought that he would have won. But I know, in thinking ahead, in hindsight, that I wish he knew now that I knew at the time that if we had raced, I would have won. I knew that I would have won, and I wanted him to know, and I want him to know now that I knew then. And I still know. Does that make sense? "A little bit." (beat) "Daddy, can you tell another one?" That was a really good story. (I reminded her) "No it wasn't!" Why?! "You told a story like the one that I interrupt: Don't say it. DON'T. She does. "You tell a story like the Mr. Remora, the teacher on A Series of Unfortunate Events." NO! No! No no no no! I do not tell stories like Mr. Remora. Totally uncool. That was a good story I told! "No it wasn't. It was like his stories." It was a good story. "No it wasn't. It was exactly like his." NO IT WASN'T! His stories have no structure, no middle act, no conflictâ€Śthey're simply a recitation of events that happen. No structure! No conflict! They're not actually stories! My story had dramatic structure. A beginning, middle, and end. There was resolution,
even though it wasn't resolved My daughter rudely interrupts: "It Was. HORRIBLE." IT WAS NOT HORRIBLE!! It was interesting, it had a good moral at the end, you actually learn something. It was a good story. "No it wasn't." Yes it was. It was a good story. End of story. "No it wasn't." Yes it was. "No it wasn't." Yes it was. Okay, I challenge you to a story-telling contest. Let's see who can tell a better story. "Okay." (beat) She begins: "One time, I went to Target. And bought some stuff. The End." THAT WAS NOT A GOOD STORY! (I inform her in the spirit of constructive criticism) "Yes it was. It was a very good story." No! First of all, it has no interesting characters in it. "Well I was in it." I know. But if somebody didn't know YOU, then they wouldn't know anything about the character herself. So your story had no truly interesting characters. That's not even a two-dimensional character. A two-dimensional character at least has a physical description attached: 'there was a little girl and she was this tall and wearing these clothes and so on.' A three-dimensional character is really what we're going for. Do you want to know what that is? "No. I'll tell you another story." Fine. (I graciously allow her to proceed)
"One time, I was in the bath, and I was playing with toys, and my brother pooped in the bathtub. The End. That is a true story. And a good story." (she goes on to tell another story that I cannot repeat here) Okay, I have to admit that the bathtub story was a lot better than your first. But you're simply giving these character descriptions with the shell of a plot. I think the only story you've told that has any merit whatsoever is the bathtub one. "Which one?" The one you just told where your brother pooped in the bathtub. It actually had a setup; a canonical universe, where you tell what the world is like before the conflict, or drama takes place. However, there is really no third act. (her brother interrupts) "Daddy, I got water in my eyes." I think you'll survive. "No, I won't survive," he grumbles. Well, go write a story about it. I order them. Go make some money for the family. Why else would we have had kids? "I'm going to play," she says. Fine. I retort. I win. Epilogue and Analysis I admire my daughter's effort, but her stories need considerable development. I rest my case. Keep on trying. And work on those reversals, daughter