Monday, February 06, 2006
I have lots of notes and background material* for stories. More often than not, they remain as notes. Every now and then, I think one is actually worth pursuing. Other times, I enjoy thinking about the story more than I believe I would actually enjoy writing it. These notes about a genie in a bottle falls somewhere in the middle:
The Genie in the bottle can give three wishes (of course). The story is totally from her point of view, perhaps. There is a curse, of course, and she has to be in the bottle. She can grant three wishes. During the period of the three wishes, she can enjoy the world, but when the third wish is done, she has to return to the bottle. The person who had the bottle has to throw it back into the water or within three days, will lose the three wishes (and more). The genie points out each time that one of the wishes can be used for her freedom. Some people promise, but in the end, they all (to a point) use the third wish on something else. The genie says she doesn’t begrudge anybody this, but as the years pass into millennia, she begins to grow frustrated. Is this story first person? I think. But the genie can tell stories of past bottle-possessors as third person narratives.
There has to be someone who will set the genie free. The genie passes through many hands throughout the ages. Some people try to steal the bottle. There are ground rules. There are penalties for certain kinds of wishes. The wisher has to be wise enough to figure out what they are. A lot of people cheat by asking for unlimited wishes. That wish negates all the other wishes they’ve had, and something wretched happens. The bottle cannot be broken. Once the genie has given three wishes, she goes back to the bottle, and any attempts to uncork her lead to disastrous results. The bottle must be found, it may not be given. It must be placed in a body of water.
People expect the wishes to be instantaneous. They aren’t.
1) to have one’s desired person fall in love with the wisher
4) ability to forsee the future
5) someone wants his pet to come back to life
6) rule a country
7) a pony
Eventually, the bottle falls into the hands of someone interesting, and that person is the other main character of the story. This could be my response to The Giving Tree [one of the few books I actively hate so much I'm not even going to link it, though I would not be so cruel as to deprive you of Shel Silverstein's website].
The character-boy doesn’t immediately wish for something obvious and external. He says rather galliantly that he will set the genie free with his third wish. The genie nods. She’s heard this before. The boy doesn’t immediately start wishing. He asks, what are some of the other wishes people have asked for? This could be the frame tale for more stories. I love frame tales! I really do.
*This is a euphemism for daydreaming on the page to the point of procrastination.