At a pitch meeting in the early 1800s…
Author: And so we have these three pigs, and they’re brothers. The first two pigs are a little lazy and they build their homes out of straw and twigs. And the third pig is very diligent and works hard and builds a home of brick. Everything is fine until the Big Bad Wolf comes and he blows down the first two houses easily. But the pigs are safe in the third house, the one made of brick. And the wolf sneaks down the chimney but the pigs boil him in a cauldron. And the moral of the story is to work hard and plan ahead.
Executive 1: Love it! Love all of it. Love the pigs, the wolf. All of it! Great stuff.
Author: Thank you.
Executive 2: So what happens in the sequel?
Author: Sea? What’s a sea-quill?
Exec 1: The next part of the story.
Author: There is no next part. That’s it. The wolf dies and the pigs are safe. The end.
Exec 1 I know. I get that. But I’m hearing the story and I can’t help to think that there’s more to it. Something…else. Something that can be explored in the next story. Like…did the wolf really die?
Author: Yes. He died.
Exec 1: But did he?
Exec 2: What about a fourth pig brother? He shows up in the sequel to battle the wolf again. I agree we need to bring the wolf back. Have to.
Exec 1: Yeah! And maybe this fourth pig brother, he’s a bit of a scoundrel. Funny too. A real snarky kinda guy. Ladies love him. Guys want to be him. Complete package.
Author: But there is no other brother.
Exec 1: Well, we can set that up in the prequel.
Author: What’s a prequel?
Exec 2: You’re cute.
Exec 1: It’s the story before the story. What happened before your story begins.
Author: Nothing happens. There are three pigs and they each build a house and —
Exec 2: Where did the pigs come from? Where did they get the plans to build the houses? Pigs don’t just have plans like that. Where did they steal the plans?
Author: I don’t know.
Exec 1: But the audience will want to know.
Exec 1: Because!
Exec 2: So let’s set up the prequel on a farm. That’s where the pigs come from. And there’s the fourth pig brother on the farm. Let’s name him Zav Blastcrop.
Author: But I don’t know what the story of that would be? Just pigs on a farm? What’s the conflict?
Exec 1: Hurricane? Witch? A mean old farmer? That’s your call. You have complete creative control. Do whatever you’d like. You’re the writer! Write!
Exec 2: But make sure there’s a brother. A fourth pig. For the sequel. Named Zav Blastcrop.
Exec 1: And the third pig has to somehow find the plans for the brick house. Because how would he know how to build it without plans that he stole?
Author: I don’t think people want to know all that.
Exec 1: They don’t know what they want. That’s why we’re here. They just want more three pigs stories.
Exec 2: Four pigs.
Exec 1: Right. Four Pigs. The Four Pigs Chronicles. And then there’s Four Pigs: Rise of the Wolf. That’s the stand-alone story about the Big Bad Wolf.
Exec 1: We need to know more about this wolf.
Author: He’s big and he’s bad. And he’s a wolf.
Exec 2: You’re cute.
Exec 1: This will be its own story. And the wolf will be the main character. So, I’m thinking, we make the wolf sad…bad childhood, bad parents, bullied. His life wasn’t good. And that’s what made him bad.
Exec 2: The wolf, he runs away from an orphanage. Or…the pound. An animal shelter? And it’s really sad. But it’s remarkable that through all of the suffering, he still manages to come out okay in the end. He rises above his circumstances to become what we all know and love…the Big Bad Wolf.
Author: But we don’t love him. He’s the villain.
Exec 2: Is he?
Exec 1: Or is he just doing what wolves do? He eats pigs. He’s being himself. He’s a creature of nature and he has to eat. In fact, by denying him food, the Four Little Pigs could be seen as the real villains. We should be rooting for the wolf!
Author: I don’t like that. I like he pigs. The moral of the story —
Exec 2: Just wait until you see how many Big Bad Wolf t-shirts you sell. Just wait. More than pig shirts, that’s for sure.
Exec 1: So we have the prequel on the farm and the Big Bad Wolf standalone. And then the thing with the houses, of course. Then the sequel with the fourth pig brother…or sister. No, brother is better. And then comes the fun part!
Exec 1 and Exec 2: (in unison) Reboot!
Author: Knee boot?
Exec 2: You’re cute.
Exec 1: So…big picture. We do all those stories and people love ’em. But what next? We redo the story again. Start over. It’s called a reboot. It’s named after the old king who wore two boots.
Exec 2: We tell the same story about the three houses and the wolf and all of that, but it’s a little different this time around.
Exec 1: Don’t worry about it.
Author: But won’t I need to write this reboot?
Exec 2: You’re cute. No. The story is out of your hands at that point.
Author: So who writes the reboot?
Exec 1: We have a committee.
Author: People won’t want the same story again and again. They’ll figure out what you’re doing.
Exec 1: That’s why, in the reboot, we focus on the houses. Not the pigs. It’s all about the houses. The dark, mysterious houses.
Exec 2: It’ll be about the houses. The three houses. So…it’ll be three separate stories. A series of three stories. Each one is about one of the houses: Part One: House of Straw. Part Two: House of Twigs. Part Three: Legend of the Stone. And in the last story in the series, we bring in the wolf.
Author: The wolf isn’t in the first two stories?
Exec 1: His breath is. It’ll be there in the background. And at the end of each of the first two parts of the story, you’ll see a wolf-like shape in the shadows and then you hear him huffing and puffing. Then — SMASH…The End. It’s about creating tension.
Author: I don’t think the story is deep enough to sustain three separate tales. One of the tales is just about a pig building a house out of straw. That’s it? Who wants that? Seems boring.
Exec 2: Well, in that story, that first story, we’ll also meet The Dish and The Spoon…
Exec 1: They run away together.
Exec 2: It’s from this other story we’ve got. Really cool stuff with athletic cows and a fiddle. Really great. It’s funny. It’s scary. It’s sexy. So we take some of the characters from that Spoon story and set them up in the pig universe. Because these Spoon characters, we need to set that up in another story before we do the real Dish and Spoon story. People won’t get it if we just do a Dish and Spoon story without first easing them into the idea. Can you imagine? Eww.
Exec 1: It’s all about building a universe. All of these things, they exist in the same universe. The stories are all in the same realm. Each one drips into the next.
Exec 2: You’re cute.
Exec 1: Audiences need to connect with a story on more than just one level. They have to invest themselves in the universe, in the lore, the mythology, the cosmology….
Author: The cosmology of Three Little Pigs?
Exec 2: Right! Now you’re getting it.
Exec 1: For instance, which of the four pig brothers is related to the magic mirror?
Author: Why would a pig be —
Exec 2: And in the Nega-Verse, where the pigs are evil, what happens when one of those Big Bad Pigs crosses over the Twinkle Star and enters our world?
Exec 1: But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Exec 2: Sorry. I just love the art of storytelling.
Author: Does the story ever end?
Exec 2: You’re cute.
Exec 1: Define “ending.”
Author: The conclusion of a story, after which there is no more story.
Exec 1: Okay. That’s one definition of “ending.” The other definition, the one people are most familiar with, is that an “ending” sets up the next thing. Each so-called ending is like a volleyball player setting his teammate up to spike the ball. [makes volleyball gesture]
Author: And when is the ball spiked?
Exec 2: Never.
Exec 1: Well, sometimes the ball just sort of lands on the ground and rolls off the court, but no one notices.
Exec 2: But rebooting is a way to pick the ball up again! Just like volleyball!
Author: I’m confused.
Exec 2: Think of it like a sentence. Which sentence is better: Sally ate an apple. Or: Sally and the apple. Which sentence is better?
Author: The second one isn’t a sentence.
Exec 1: Exactly! It’s even better than a sentence! It’s like…a super sentence!
Author: I think I should go.
Exec 1: You probably think this conversation is ending…
Exec 2: But really, it’s just beginning!
Author: I’m leaving. [leaves]
Exec 1: That man was our only hope…
Exec 2: No. There is…another. [Reveals a picture of a wolf]
Exec 1: My…what big eyes it has.
Exec 2: Indeed. [wolf howls in the distance]