While reading his letters in preparation for the Christmas season Santa comes across one letter with a most unusual request…
My short story “The Naughty List” was published by Cheeze und Krackers e-zine for their Southern Summer, Northern Winter edition.
You can read “The Naughty List” on Calaméo here on page 14.
As with my last story, I decided to discuss a little bit about the creation of this one. Be warned, there are SPOILERS ahead, so definitely read the story before you check out the rest of this post.
Conception of “The Naughty List”
This was a story also written for Poetry Club, the weekly writing group that I attend in Berlin. It’s actually the first full story I’d written for the club (I’d previously written a little snippet of another story that wasn’t much of anything).
The topic that week had been “Sending Nudes.” I thought it was a pretty poor topic and extremely difficult to write for. I actually considered not writing, but I’d already been visiting the group for a few weeks and hadn’t written anything yet and so I’d made myself a promise that I would write this week, no matter what the topic was.
My immediate reaction was that I had to make it funny in some unexpected way (unexpected is always what I aim for; I am a writer after all). I bounced around several ideas for a few days (a guy accidentally sends a nude to someone important, a girl has her nudes published as revenge porn, etc) but nothing really stuck out in my head as particularly unique. And then out of no where, a thought entered my mind: What if someone wrote Santa a letter asking for nudes?
That idea intreaged me. It had a lot of potential to be funny, and it was definitely unique.
I told my girlfriend about the idea, but confessed that I didn’t know how I would end it. She loved the pitch and suggested that the letters be coming from Mrs. Claus. That suggestion made it all come together for me and I wrote it in an evening, more or less as it appears in the final presentation.
I based the structure, however loosely, on the song “Escape” by Rupert Holms. You probably know the song, but in case that name doesn’t sound familiar, it’s more commonly known as “The Piña Colada song”.
It basically talks about a man whose relationship with his wife is becoming stale; one day while reading the newspaper he comes across a personal ad from a woman looking for a partner who shares her interests in many things including piña coladas. intrigued, he arranges a meet up only to learn that the woman who placed the ad is actually his wife. She, too, had felt like their routine had become stale. The whole experience ends up reinvigorating their love.
The only real difference between the plot of the song and the plot of The Naughty List is that Mrs. Clause knows she’s teasing Santa, whereas in Escape, the wife doesn’t know it is her husband who will answer the ad.
I even make a pretty strong reference to the song in the form of the Piña colada that Mrs. Clause gives to Santa.
Not long after I wrote The Naughty List, I submitted it for publication which meant that I didn’t have the opportunity to make any further changes. Now, looking at it again after a few months later I realize that I’m not super happy with the portrayal of Mrs. Clause, mostly because of how domesticated she is.
At the time I was sticking pretty close to the commonly accepted Santa mythos since this is a short story and that approach allowed me to maximize the plot while having minimal explanations. I trusted the reader to know all about Santa. However, now that I’m a little more experienced with short stories, I think I could have given Mrs. Clause more to do, perhaps made her the workshop foreman, or in charge of planning Santa’s logistics, or something. Basically, I want to expand her role in the story so that she is more than just a catalyst for Santa’s arc.
Oh well, next time I’ll try to be more conscious of the role of my female characters.
I hope that adds a vit more value to The Naughty List for you. I’d love to hear your thoughts about it!