Everything about story structure I learned from Ren and Stimpy

The first thing I ever saw that really got me thinking about story arcs and stuff, was, believe it or not, a Ren and Stimpy cartoon.

In it, Ren and Stimpy are flat broke. Ren dresses up as a mouse, so Stimpy can charge for his services as a mouse catcher. The plan goes well, until the marks ask Stimpy to eat the mouse. Rather than give up the game, Stimpy puts Ren in his mouth and slowly chews. Ren tries to bear this treatment as long as he can, but he finally snaps; he pops out and yells that he is not a mouse, he is a chihuahua. (And pulls out his pedigree to prove it.)

On seeing this, (I was probably 12 years old) I realized it was somehow important the way the deception is revealed. They are very close to getting away with it before problems arise, and rather than just getting caught, the cost of the lie is increased more and more until Ren can no longer keep up the charade.

There are some other lessons about story-writing I learned from Ren and Stimpy, many of which were caused by their blatant violations of accepted structure.

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