So I’ve got this website now. I have yet to figure out how to write an article that is somehow not me talking about myself or talking about crap I have no business talking about. I can’t imagine anybody caring about my writing process or any of ‘tips and tricks’ to coming up with what I throw on a page. That, however, leaves me with few options. I do like history, though, so what I will talk about is the history of the medium of writing. Specifically, the short story.
The short story originated in the Middle East, the same place that gave us written laws, which is no coincidence. The history of the fictional short story is really the history of the lie itself, and when did lying become more necessary than with the advent of law enforcement? The first short story involved a man (most likely shirtless) explaining the murder of his neighbor to Babylon 5-0 (Not the show). You see, once upon a time, he had come home from a late night of helping lepers and totally found his neighbor that way in a pool of blood. And also, before the neighbor died, he said it was a group of Hittites who had killed him, so go find them and stop wasting time. ‘I swear that’s the truth, El Officor’ (Translated from the Middle Eastern) was the first ‘The End.’ It was all a lie but the police bought it, and his statement, the first short story, was written by dictabird into stone and into history.
Short stories stayed mostly as ridiculous self-serving lies forwarded to friends and family to entertain for about fifty years until Ancient Greece happened. Then it was on. Hermaphradites, Dudes turning into rain and geese to score, islands full of lesbians, the Greeks took short stories and ran wild with them. One day, a Greek writer named Plato (Not the toy) came up with the next advancement in short story-telling. He was on a deadline and ripping off Samson for his ‘Hercules’ story but he needed something to make the character different so he didn’t look like a hack. Then, boom, he invents the tragic hero. Hercules killed his own family. Intense. Then Hercules went on to star in twelve action-packed sequels, thus, crediting Plato with the invention of the serialized pulp hero as well. People went crazy for the stories, as crazy as when Hercules killed his family. Plato had found success, and Sophocles’ art-house indie crap could suck it.
After that was the Middle Ages, when short stories were outlawed by the Inqusition. The Templars tried to bring them back but were banished to the Middle East, where short stories began, and kept there by Vatican blood magic.
Several years after that, a holly farmer partnered short stories with moving pictures and birthed what he called ‘films.’ These ‘films’ are still around today as movies. Movies helped make short stories more palatable to depressed audiences by removing most of the words and adding pratfalls and pies in the face. Soon even that got boring, which led to the next short story innovation: the twist ending. Invented by Alfred Hitchcock (Not Batman’s butler), the twist ending was a giant middle finger to the audience to prove the storyteller was smarter than they were. The Twilight Zone guy (Not Edward) perfected this giant F You, and people loved it because they liked surprises and finding out it wasn’t really heaven, it was hell all along! The twist ending device enjoyed a resurgence recently thanks to American Indian filmmaker Midnight Shyamalan.
Nowadays, short stories are a thing of the past and can only be seen in documentaries on PBS. People still tell lies, but “It was a dark and stormy night” has been replaced with “What had happened was,” so it’s not really the same. Perhaps when future humans dig up our lies of today, they will truly be unrecognizable from the lies of the past, and their alien overlords will scratch their heads and demand an explanation for the incongruity. Then, some shirtless guy will step forward and reinvent the short story so that they are all not whipped to oblivion by plasma flogs. And that shirtless guy from Babylon will smile in liars’ heaven and know his legacy lives on.
If you’re interested in learning more facts about history, consult your local internet message board