Open Wounds

Bellerophontes ta grammata (Bellerophontic letter)

Any time you can use the word Bellerophontic in a sentence is a good day.

This was said by King Proetus who wanted to kill Bellerophon when he visited his home because Bellerophon had tried to violate his wife. But it would have been bad manners to kill a guest. So Proetus sends Bellerophon to his father in-law, King Lobates, as a messenger with a sealed letter to deliver. The letter  in a folded tablet says, “Pray remove the bearer from this world: he attempted to violate my wife, your daughter.”

So that’s how you do it.

Isn’t that a great idea for a plot? Much harder to do than defriending someone on Facebook but easily more satisfying.

Just how many plots are there to choose from? This is a question that’s been floating around the writing universe for a long long time.

So I looked it up. The oldest source I could find said that there was either 36 or 37 plots, and the book it comes from is a “French book published in 1916 as “The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations” by Georges Polti”.

Maybe we better all take a look.  And while you’re at it beware of people asking you to deliver sealed letters in folded tablet form, in case you’ve got a history and it bellerophontic.

That was awkward but I think it worked.

You give it a try. Write a sentence with bellerophontic in it. See how it sounds.

10 responses

  1. Holy crap. That was awesome. I wonder if Harry Belafonte knows about this.

    April 2, 2012 at 7:23 am

  2. Ana

    Wow, very informative! I hope I never have to bust a bellerophontic on someone. Thanks for mentioning the Polti book. I just looked it up and already found a great resource on the 36 dramatic situations. Woo-hoo…I have to get to some fiction writing soon!

    April 2, 2012 at 11:50 am

    • thanks for the comment! Glad you liked the Polti reference. Best – Joe

      April 2, 2012 at 7:32 pm

  3. I think that this was an elegant solution to a pressing hospitality issue. Bellerophon was a bad guest.
    A Belleophontic letter. Fabulous.

    April 2, 2012 at 12:55 pm

  4. I can’t leave comments because Gravatar hates me latley, so have to use Twitter. My blog:

    It’s a great word. They say plots are limited, but there are a myriad ways to tell them.

    April 2, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    • Agreed. We’d be putting ourselves in a box if we didn’t see what you pointed out. Many variations on themes. thanks for the comment – Joe

      April 2, 2012 at 7:38 pm

  5. I am back again today to see what expression you chose to expound upon. 🙂 Very nice.

    “I begged profusely for forgiveness. It was not my intent to lose the money. Then Anthony told me it would fine. He had forgiven me. He quickly scribbled a note. After placing it in a sealed envelope, he handed it to me and said, “You gonna hafta take this over to Luigi. Just hand it to him. It explains it all.”

    When I walked out of the backroom– passing through aged, smoke-stained, velvet curtains, I caught the knowing eye of the local hustlers and the bookie. The hair on my neck stood up. I wanted to melt into the woodwork.

    I rubbed my thumb over the seal of the envelope. My heart began to pound and I thought I was going to throw-up. This was an explanation, alright, a bellerophontic letter of an explanation!”

    Sorry…lol, I couldn’t just use it in a sentence. This one had to be set up. A more skillful and practiced writer could have, I am sure… 🙂

    Fun post, Joe.

    April 2, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    • This was grand! I loved the mobster take. Sometimes one sentence just doesn’t do it justice. Skillful and practiced are in the eye of the beholder! Best – Joe

      April 2, 2012 at 10:25 pm

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