The Raft



The key to good storytelling is to tell one that hasn’t been heard before. This one is from when I was a child. What? If it is from when I was a child, people must have heard it before because that was a long time ago. Maybe another five innocent children were told the same story. It could have been on the radio. Fourteen people could have heard it.

At least the reader hasn’t heard it before, and that isn’t true. I’m reading as I’m typing, and I have for sure heard it before. I am a liar. But a good story has three components: the setup, the character definition, and the climax.

What is the climax? It is kind of the peak. Oh, like a peak of a mountain. No, not like that. More of an abstract peak. Abstract? Something that isn’t there in real life.

So the setup, the character definition, and a mountain that isn’t there. No! Let me just start the story. Four men sit on a raft. Please note the dramatic beginning. It is all about getting everyone on board. Come along, please. But there isn’t room for everyone on the raft. Maybe if we sit a little closer, we can fit everyone in. Three men sit on a raft.

I just said there were four men? While I was rambling, one of them fell into the water and got eaten by a shark. I could have told myself that, but it is the element of surprise. Every story has to have an element of surprise. So, four men sit on a raft. Didn’t I say one fell in the water and got eaten by a shark? No, I started over, so four men sit on a raft. But then I have to rescue the poor guy. He must be wet. There might be a cold wind blowing. He could get sick. I have to give him some dry clothes. Oh, no, that doesn’t matter. He’s gonna go back in the water again. It makes no sense. I said he got eaten by a shark. I must have rescued the shark as well. Four men sit on a shark. One of them goes crazy and jumps the shark. What’s his name? I don’t know. Let’s call him Fonzie. I know Fonzie from that show. No, that bear is called Fozzie. It doesn’t matter.

What do I mean, it doesn’t matter? Stand-up wouldn’t stand without wocka-wocka. Well, that is the funny part, the whole climax of the story. What is? That he does stand-up. Why is that funny? Because you can’t stand up on a raft. That’s why they sit.