Getting wet with the Little Mermaid

Attorney Paul Denni

Attorney Paul Denni

Last night, the wifey and I watched the Little Mermaid.

You know, the new one that recently came out on Disney+.

Fun fact: I was always a fan of the Little Mermaid as a kid.

Matter of fact, I’m still a fan of all the old original Disney movies, and have been watching them with my two year old daughter as of late.

There’s a lot of politically incorrect stuff in them that’s actually pretty funny because it’s just so odd.

But anyway, I wanted to tell you about something I realized while watching the new flick.

If you saw the original cartoon version of the Little Mermaid, you’d know that Scuttle was the crackpot seagull who explained the usage and names of all the human paraphernalia Ariel was hoarding.

In the new version, Scuttle is a female bird that can dive underwater, apparently.

Now before you get your feathers all ruffled, I don’t have any problems with Scuttle being female, Ariel being black, or any of that dumb stuff you read about in the news or that gets conservatives all hot and bothered on facebook.

But I found myself wondering aloud to my wife: “How the hell is that bird talking to Ariel underwater for so long, wouldn’t he have run out of oxygen by now?”

Besides instantly realizing what a dumb thing to say that was, I realized something else, slightly more profound:

Which is, that I was completely and utterly unbothered by the fact that the bird was talking to a mermaid.

Because when you tell a good story, it doesn’t matter if it’s made up, illogical, unscientific, or even “unrealistic.”

Just as long as it’s logical, scientific, and realistic enough. 

The reason I was stumped on the new Scuttle is because the OG Scuttle was a seagull who would’ve drowned mid-sentence.

Other than that, put in mermaids, witches, singing crabs, and I was fine with all of that stuff.

And such is the power of world-building.

When you get good at world-building – at suspending the disbelief of your audience – they are like putty in your story-telling hands.

As stories go, we don’t really need logic.

Because there are more ethereal elements to a good story that supersede logic or science or reality, simply because they move us emotionally, even psychologically.

Forget that birds can’t hold their breath for that long.

I didn’t even bother to ask my wife whether mermaids really exist.

Because when world-building is so good, you get lost in it, you don’t question it.

And I think this is a very valuable lesson, for writers, marketers, creators of products, business owners.

When you build a world that your customers, readers, patrons, or clients can get lost in, because they are so fully captivated by it, you’ve created something truly powerful and influential (not to mention something you can also make a lot of money with).

From the way you answer your phones, to the way you create systems and processes, to the way you put your brush to the canvas or pen to the paper, that is all “your world.”

And you get to decide what goes in it, what stays out of it, and what’s most important for your audience to connect with.

But as you build your world, as you captivate your audience, realize that skill should be wielded with sobriety and intention, and in their best interest.

It’s the only way to make sure they keep coming back.

Paul Denni

P.S. You can build out your world, legacy, and future vision even further, with my humble assistance, as explained more fully here:

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