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  • Writer's pictureStuart Sheldon

Short Sweet and Utterly Complete


“A mop went to a party. But he was shy, so he just went home and cleaned up the house.” My wide-eyed 6-yr-old shared this with me a few days ago. He’d been tasked to create a story at school.  “That is a terrific story!” I said, charmed and full with love for my little Tolstoy.  

I am impressed by his literary effort for several reasons:

It is short, sweet and utterly complete.

It is random and unexpected. I haven’t heard too many mop stories recently.

It has a clear protagonist facing a genuine challenge.

The solution is real and not sappy. Sadly, our moppy hero goes home alone, but he satisfies himself by activating his  inner strengths. One can only assume that a mop of his character will indeed meet his princess mop at some point.

Kissing my son’s tan cheek, I asked him, “After he cleaned his house, was the mop happy? Did that make him feel better?” “Yes,” he said, rocking back and forth on his heels. “And what did he do after he cleaned his house?” “Nothing, cuz that was the end. He went to bed.” The fact that our mop did not mope made me respect him even more.

Everyone can relate to a well-told story, because our entire lives are one big narrative. You are the hero facing real challenges. Your character arc is considerable, as you try to win the day and better yourself. The best communicators make their point in a story because, whether it’s a PowerPoint presentation, a barstool exchange or a eulogy, you engage your listener when you weave a tale.  

Unless you want to see eyes glaze over, do not just spew facts; we all suffer data overload these days. As a stockbroker, I was taught that people don’t buy stocks; you sell them stocks. In other words, you paint a picture and create a happy ending that they can see and clearly understand. Of course, I’m asking you to tell true stories here. Not stockbroker stories.

Cinderella Story

I will never tire of this photo. My Cinderellas holding hands. The best story I’ve written yet.

In my opinion, we do way too much talking in our lives. I certainly do. And most of what I say is unnecessary. The least I can do is try to make it entertaining. Offer the proverbial spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down. And if it does not go well, I can always go home and clean the house.

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