Once upon a time, is an overused trope. There are many established and recognised ways to tell a story. This is not one of them. There are accepted literary rules that must not be broken. Speaking directly to the reader is one such rule. You are embarking on an experiment. It might become tedious. Maybe it won’t. But before we start, here is a quick writing tip; you should never begin or end a sentence with the word “but”. But there we are.
This story is a fairytale about a drug addict. And it begins (also, you should never begin a sentence with the word “and”) in a magical forest just outside of Boscombe.
Boscombe was a magical (another thing you should never do is repeat the same word twice in near proximity, i.e. “magical”) place in the south of England. It is a small province in Bournemouth. Boscombe is famous for stabbings, alcoholics, a booming drug trade (they were lucky enough to have the first crack factory discovered in England!) and a happy-go-lucky 30 year-old pisshead called Trev.
Trev was enjoying a peaceful slumber under a sick-looking oak tree just down the path from that tatty little mini-golf course in Boscombe gardens.
“Urgh,” he moaned, stirring from a terrible hangover. He began to cry. Crying in your sleep is a talent one acquires after much practice and hardship.
A squirrel watched him from a branch above. He had a look of trepidation in his eyes. He sniffed the air and twitched his nose. Quietly, and slowly, he scurried down the tree and landed softly on the ground. He crept up to Trev and looked him over carefully. (By the way, if you are reading this and are a writer in the making please do not do as I do. I am making no attempts to avoid adjectives. Avoiding adjectives is very important).
The squirrel sniffed Trev’s nose and took a tentative nibble. “Could this mysterious thing under the tree be a giant nut?” the squirrel thought. Probably.
Trev was startled awake. His eyes opened wide. In his mad half asleep state he perceived the squirrel as some kind of small fury monster. He screamed. The squirrel panicked. Trev reacted without thinking and slammed his fist heavily down on the beast. He punched the poor thing into the ground. It lay still, sunken into the dirt. Blood seeping from its ear. It twitched and then vomited. (Jesus Christ. This is a horrible fairy tale. If you haven’t stopped reading by now there is something really very wrong with you).
It is said that every time the fourth wall is broken, and the writer addresses the reader directly, the illusion is destroyed and any kind of drama or suspense built up is shattered. If you decide to address the reader directly, in your own writing, you should make sure it pays off and has at least some relevance to the story. If you are writing in the first person it can be used as a way to give a quirky insight into the narrator’s mind but it is rarely done well and normally just pisses people off. What I’m doing now is just self-indulgent and awkward for both of us.
Trev pulled himself to his feet and brushed bits of twigs and dirt from his clothes. (A quick note about adjectives. I could have just said, “Tev stood up. His clothes were dirty.” But “dirty” is an adjective, and as I said earlier, they must be avoided. It’s all about showing and not telling, so they say. Building a picture for the mind’s internal cinema to follow).
Fuck. I can’t remember what this story was going to be about. Princesses maybe? Drug addled princesses. I don’t know. That will do. Fairy tales should have villains shouldn’t they? Yes!! (Exclamation marks, let’s talk about that. They should be used sparingly, and never more than one, ever). Right, let’s get a villain on to the scene.
A shadow fell over Trev, our prince. Trev looked up at the figure standing over him, shielding his eyes from the bright sun that was eclipsing around the figure, causing him to appear as a featureless silhouette.
“What the fuck do you want?”
The figure leaned forward revealing his identity. “Ello, ello, ello,” he said, stereotypically.
“Good morning Constable.”
“You just murdered that squirrel.”
“I want to marry your daughter.”
“Well, well, well,” said the constable (who had a recognisable trait of often repeating words three times just because the author doesn’t have the adequate skills to create a more distinct character and wants to avoid saying the words “he said” by letting the verbal tick do the work for him), “Doesn’t that add an interesting depth to our relationship. You’re nicked.”
Trev was taken to the police station and the author decided to wrap things up because this whole thing, whatever it is, is pointless and stupid.
The constable’s daughter beat her teenage fists on her dad’s manly chest and begged him to let Trev, her lover, go. He agreed and the teenage couple had sex resulting in an unwanted pregnancy. They got marriage even though they barely knew each other because Trev wanted to prove her dad wrong, and is a bit of a dick. They lived happily on benefits ever after.
The squirrel that Trev punched survived but due to an unusually warm winter, making it easier than usual to find food, got fat and was killed by a cat because he couldn’t get away quick enough.