The Writer’s Life — April Foolery

Now, I’m not much of a hoaxer myself, but I enjoy April Fool’s Day. The day is rife with possibility, and I know it’s inspired others to play some memorable tricks — and if that doesn’t inspire us as writers, what can? The day can relieve the tension of writing — and you KNOW those times, when the plot doesn’t twist and turn the way you really, really need it to. The tricks played on this day can turn out to be treats for your writing! It’s also a day that can be likened to Halloween, in that you can’t necessarily trust what you see or hear. In short, it’s an entire day based on fiction. You never know what’s going to happen — and that’s something we would really like to use in our own work.

Intrigued? Take a gander. For starters, here’s a look at the 100 greatest April Fool’s Day tricks of all time. You might have heard of some of these, others not; what you have to admit is that at least some of them will make you laugh. I laughed, and I have no sense of humor! The Swiss spaghetti trees … Sidd Finch … the Taco Liberty Bell … And who knows? Some of these may work very well somewhere in your plotting.

Have I piqued your curiosity? Do you want to find out more about the day of fools? Glad you asked. April Fool’s Day has serious origins … or so we’re told. One source posits that it came about from the adoption of a new calendar. This site has its own file of hoaxes, a history of the Gregorian calendar (vs. the Julian, but some of you may already be familiar with that subject), and more. Kidding … or not? See for yourself. Consider how this can work for you.

Here’s a site that may be a little more trustworthy. What you’ll find is that there are all sorts of different origin stories for April Fool’s Day, and while some may be more credible than others, you have to admit they’re all entertaining — and they’re all food for thought. And don’t forget what Mark Twain said:

The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.’s_Day

Have I whetted your appetite? Want to try a few jokes, tricks, or hoaxes yourself on friends and loved ones (or not-so-loved ones, but make sure you’re nowhere in sight if you execute ‘em on these folks), or your characters, beloved or blackguard? Bless the children, because kids really know the value of a good practical joke. Put food coloring in the victim’s milk! Super-glue coins (or dollar bills) to a sidewalk! Get some friends together and stare and point up at the sky!

And of course, chances are you won’t be reading this until after April Fool’s Day. In that case, pull a prank anyway — when your victims won’t expect it. Go! Enjoy! And take a few notes on how a twist or prank could work into your latest plot!

Copyright 2005 Eilis Flynn