I’ve wondered on several occasions whether or not an inside joke can work in a story. I worry about this sometimes, because sometimes my best stuff comes from inside jokes. It’s a shame to waste a good idea, but it isn’t any good if you just end up babbling to yourself because nobody gets it.
I ran across this again recently. You can check out my flash fiction piece “Regarding my Term Paper about the Dani tribe of Papua, New Guinea” over at Cease, Cows and see whether or not you think this works. I think it does, but that’s not necessarily a reason to believe anything.
This all started with a blog post of mine about sweet potato fries (I hate them). When this posted to Facebook, H L Nelson happened to make an odd comment regarding benefits of a high yam diet as evidenced in the Dani Tribe of Papua, New Guinea. Immediately, I made up some random, untrue, and utterly unbelievable factoid about the Dani Tribe of Papua, New Guinea with which to counter Nelson’s argument. This did not appear to bother Nelson.
I then noticed a post of Nelson’s own mentioning how she was having fun inserting random facts about the Dani Tribe of Papua, New Guinea into conversations as a personal joke. The game was on. From then on, we would go back and forth with random made up tidbits about the Dani Tribe of Papua, New Guinea on various posts. On my posts, her posts, and posts of random people.
I had to write a story based on this…on the Dani Tribe of Papua, New Guinea. Well, not really about the Dani Tribe of Papua, New Guinea…more about the misuse of them as we had been doing. I had to send it to Cease, Cows.
Of course, I worried that such a story would only end up funny to H L Nelson and myself. That would be fine and all, but there was no way Cease, Cows could publish it in such a case. Somehow, I had to build in all the fun stuff Nelson and I had been doing with the Dani Tribe of Papua, New Guinea without actually explaining it (which would be boring and suck all the life out). I had to convey the essence of what had amused Nelson and myself.
Anyway, that’s what I was trying to do. I sent it in and told Cease, Cows what I’d been doing, saying they could decide whether it worked outside of Nelson and my skulls. It must have, because they agreed to publish the story. Check out “Regarding my Term Paper about the Dani tribe of Papua, New Guinea” and see whether you think I got it or not.
I won’t be mad if you don’t agree, but remember that the Dani tribe of Papua, New Guinea have a long and established tradition of lying to people in order to protect their feelings.