Mermaid Hooks – Less than a Perfect ‘Hemingway’

2010/02/24 § 1 Comment

Some months ago I was very surprised to receive an email which can only be classed as ‘fan mail’.

I said thank you.

Could you write about mermaids?

Sure, can you give me another element?


This is as far as I have got with it:

Mermaid hooks were sold in old jam jars. Tourists bought them as gifts. Their friends and relatives went swimming. Never heard from again.

Now it has been through many iterations, and many of these re-writes included a glowing reference to Bikini Atoll. It’s close but I still can’t call it done. Why?

The end is bit clunky, forced by the lack of remaining characters (138/140). The twist, which is that the ‘hooks’ are not for catching mermaids but for turning humans into mermaids I feel is too obvious. Overall, I find it a bit pedestrian, lacking ‘magic’ which such a topic of fantastic creatures requires, which is why I took out the mutating reference to Bikini Atoll’s atomic bomb tests. The cross genre thing wasn’t working.

Another reason why it is pedestrian and lacks magic is that the elements of the story do not do a lot of double work like Hemingway’s famous six word story.

Worse, even though it’s pedestrian its twist may not be obvious to all.

And while the twist at the end works by resolving the first element’s ‘mermaid hooks’, nothing is done with jam jars at all.

I have been unable to weave these altogether to my satisfaction, but I cannot give up, I will keep trying.

And other days they just trip of the end of one’s fingers onto the keyboard.



§ One Response to Mermaid Hooks – Less than a Perfect ‘Hemingway’

  • Beth Browne says:

    Well, of course, I *love* it!! But I knew you were clever. What if you were to weave the middle two sentences together? Tourists bought them for friends to take swimming. Empty jars, float unsticky…

    Thanks for sharing!


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