Mar 02

Using Old Stories to Create New

Using Old Stories to Create New

 

 PART 1

To focus on POV it can be useful, and fun, to try using old stories to create new.

(You need a set of cards with the titles of well known stories and some simple opening lines. There are some suggestions at the end for use in this session)

eg. Bringing them up to date –  Cinderella could be a younger sister who is bullied. Maybe a big pop star is coming to appear in their home town and she is too young to go……

Maybe Jack swaps something for some plants and it turns out he is growing marijuana. It might seem like the goose that lays the golden egg if he is tempted to sell it but he has to get rid of the plants when the police are on his trail….

And/Or maybe telling them from a different point of view eg. The story of Cinderella from the point of view of the step-sisters or the story of George and the Dragon from the Dragon’s side.

Task:
Take three titles each, unseen. You can discard two and/or ask someone if they will swap.
Take up to five opening lines. You can change up to three from the pile  and/or ask someone to swap.

You have two minutes to swap/exchange/choose which to keep.

Try to start your story with one of the opening lines.

Share and discuss

NB. You may prefer to take the basic idea but use a list of stories taken from adult books, eg classics or best sellers.

Titles:

Little Red Riding Hood                                                      Cinderella                                              Babes in the Wood

 

Aladdin                                                                                 Robin Hood                                             Goldilocks and the Three Bears

 

Dick Turpin                                                                         David and Goliath                                    Beauty and the Beast

 

Snow White                                                                        Jack and the Beanstalk                          King Arthur

 

The Tortoise and the Hare                                              The Boy who cried Wolf                          The Little Tailor

 

George and the Dragon                                                   The Emperor’s new Clothes                 The Frog Prince

                                                 **********************************

Opening Lines:

He always felt good on horseback….                                                                     The woods seemed like a good place to hide….

Too much curiosity got him into the mess in the first place….                         It seemed like a great deal….

She had never seen the house before….                                                             He had always wanted to be in a gang….

There was no sound except the birds and a few insects humming….           What was that?

She soon realised she was lost….                                                                        The bigger they are the harder they fall ….

He ran like the wind….                                                                                               I never actually lied about what happened….

‘Quick, let’s get out of here…’                                                                                   Reputation is everything….

The trouble was she was bored….                                                                         Some people never learn….

It wasn´t my idea….                                                                                                    He never could resist a challenge….

I should have known it was too good to be true….                                               It was supposed to be a bit of fun….

                                                                                 **************************************

PART 2

NB. This will probably be a second session, depending on numbers and will be much easier if the stories have been typed up from tha previous week.

Give out ‘The Grumpy Dragon’ (first draft)

and ‘Revising and improving, correcting and editing…’ :

The Grumpy Dragon

Reputation is everything. I, for example, am supposed to be feared, held in awe and avoided like the plague, which means I don’t actually have to do very much. The odd roar and a few flames breathed out at the odd passer by is usually enough to ensure that I am left in peace, which suits me fine.

Unfortunately, this scrawny wench, having stumbled into my lair has caused me no end of bother. I suppose I was a bit over zealous in my attempts to scare her off and the next thing I know she is on the floor spitting and snarling and using some very unladylike language! Sprained ankle- quite painful I am sure but more importantly she couldn’t walk. I told her she could stay in my cave as long as she kept quiet and went to the rear of the cave to have a nap. I do a lot of napping these days, I’m not getting any younger after all.
Well, she didn’t keep quiet, she never shut up, complaining and demanding. She was hungry, she was thirsty, she wanted a blanket, she needed a bandage….. I’d had enough by the next morning I can tell you. She wanted me to go into the village and get someone to go up to the castle and tell her father where she was.
Well, I ask you, how did she think that was going to work? ‘Hellooo- I am a dragon!’

Well, her being a princess and all it did not take them long to miss her and the night was punctuated by men with torches and the occasional shouts of searchers which meant that, having had a lousy night’s sleep, I was not in the mood for her nagging or for the next idiot that stumbled onto my patch. The first I heard of him was what sounded like a sack of tin cans ratting along. Resignedly I stuck my head out of the cave to have a look. He was on horseback. How he got up there I have no idea. His lance was too big for him and he was struggling to keep its end up.
‘What do you want?’ I asked him.
‘I’m here to rescue the princess,’ he replied, full of self importance.
‘Be my guest,’ I said. She, meanwhile had hobbled out to see who had turned up. She looked with disdain at his suggestion that he should carry her off, back to the castle.
‘ I don’t know you,’ she said, ‘You could be anybody underneath all that hardware.’
‘I’m supposed to rescue you and kill the dragon,’ he told her, ‘Stick to the script.’
‘What for? The dragon has not done anything. He only scared me but he’s let me stay and been quite kind actually.’
Well, she’s changed her tune, kind! Kind! I couldn’t have her going around telling everyone I was ‘kind’! I value my privacy and that depends on them leaving me alone because they are afraid of me.
She flatly refused to get on his horse. He, despite his bombastic strutting seemed to have no idea how to carry out his dragon-slaying plan.
Deep breaths. Only one thing for it, work up a few flames and scare ’em off. Don’t they realise I’m getting too old for all this.

556 words

 

Revising and improving, correcting and editing…

Your task is to take this first draft and start…
‘attacking its descriptive excesses and its badly drawn observations, smoothing over its passages of stylistic roughness and honing its readability….’ (Douglas Kennedy)

Scrutinising, styling and crafting is what you expect to do with any piece of work. Unfortunately in this case you also have to lose words. Let us imagine it is going to be submitted for publication or entered for a competition but the word limit is strictly 500.
This piece is 556 words. Improve it and also get it down to 500.

Give out the already corrected version.*

Compare, and discuss the changes.

Task 2
Take your own story from the last exercise, or any other piece of your own work and do the same.

* The Grumpy Dragon (revised version)

Reputation is everything. I, for example, am supposed to be feared, held in awe and definitely avoided, which means I don’t actually have to do much. The occasional roar and a few flames is usually enough to ensure that I am left in peace.

Unfortunately, this scrawny wench, having stumbled into my lair has caused me no end of bother. I suppose I was a bit over zealous in my attempts to frighten her and the next thing I know she is on the floor spitting and snarling, and using some very unladylike language! Sprained ankle – quite painful I’m sure but more importantly she couldn’t walk. I told her she could rest in my cave as long as she kept quiet and I settled down to have a nap. I do a lot of napping these days.

Well, she didn’t keep quiet, she never shut up, complaining and demanding. She was hungry, she was thirsty, she wanted a blanket, she needed a bandage….. I’d had enough by the next morning I can tell you. She wanted me to go into the village and get someone to go up to the castle and tell her father where she was.

How did she think that was going to work. ‘Hellooo- I am a dragon!’

Well, her being a princess and all they soon missed her and the night was punctuated by distant searchers with torches, and occasional shouts . Having had a lousy night’s sleep, I was not in the mood for her nagging or for the next idiot that stumbled onto my patch. The first I heard of him was what sounded like a sack of tin cans ratting along. I stuck my head out to investigate. He was on horseback. How he got up there I have no idea. His lance was too big for him and he was struggling to keep its end up.

‘What do you want?’ I asked him.

‘I’m here to rescue the princess,’ he replied, full of self importance.

‘Be my guest.’

She, meanwhile had hobbled out to see who had turned up. She looked with disdain at his suggestion that he should carry her off, back to the castle.

‘ I don’t know you. You could be anybody underneath all that hardware.’

‘I’m supposed to rescue you and kill the dragon,’ he told her, ‘Stick to the script.’

‘Kill the dragon! What for? He’s not done anything. He only scared me but he’s let me stay and been quite kind actually.’

Well, she’s changed her tune. Kind! Kind? I couldn’t have her going around telling everyone I was ‘kind’! I value my privacy and that depends on them leaving me alone.

She flatly refused to get on his horse. He, despite his bombastic strutting seemed to have no idea how to carry out his dragon-slaying plan.

Deep breaths. Only one thing for it, work up a few flames and scare ’em off. Don’t they realise I’m getting too old for all this.

500 words

Category:Fun Session. Tags:Starting Points,Imagination, Character,Appropriate language,Revising

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