To be honest, I don’t really know how you improve on any of the classic fairy tales or nursery rhymes. I entered a contest where in 500 words or less, you are supposed to revamp/alter/twist/mess up a classic fairy tale or rhyme. 500 words is not a lot to work with. It is hard enough being all witty and entertaining without a word limit but to do it in only a few paragraphs? Ha!
So the immediate question was, which classic do I choose? I figured in less than 500 words, it would have to be a short one. My first thought, I don’t know why, was something like Humpty Dumpty. It’s cute, it’s short and surely there are plenty of ways to mess it up or throw in a twist or two. I mean, the very premise is silly. What would an egg be doing up on a wall anyway? Everyone knows you can’t balance an egg on a wall.
And who said humpty dumpty was an egg guy anyway? According to Wikipedia, he is usually portrayed as an anthropomorphic egg – although it is unknown exactly why. I believe the poem just says humpty dumpty sat on a wall, humpty dumpty had a great fall and then some junk about the king’s horses and the king’s men not being able to put him back together. Now exactly why horses would be able to put an egg guy back together again is beyond me but hey, I didn’t write it.
Whatever, enough about humpty dumpty and his balance issues and fondness for walls. I didn’t choose humpty dumpty. I considered Jack and Jill but who cares why they went up a hill or came tumbling down later? They’re klutzes plain and simple. Come to think of it, humpty dumpty sounds like a bit of a klutz himself. What’s with all these nursery rhymes being about people falling and tumbling? Humpty dumpty falls, Jack and Jill tumble, London Bridge falls down, ring around the rosey and everyone falls down, etc. What’s going on with these people?
For anyone interested in what I finally went with, it was the Princess and the Pea. I altered it a little to make it more modern, threw in a disgruntled postal worker and a little deviousness. You can read it here: The Princess and the Marble.