Rewrite a Known Fairy Tale

Children love hearing fairy tales. The stories take kids to places dark and scary, filled with villains and heroes. Add in an element of magic and the scenes brim with mystery.

Many of the protagonists are male who rescue the maiden from evil forces. However, in modern retellings the roles are often switched. What if it had been Maid Marion who stole from the rich? What changes would there be to the story?

Imagine Prince Charming having lost a boot and Cinderella searches far and wide for the foot that fits. The Prince might have been the one abused by evil cousins while Cinderella lived in a luxurious palace.

Your task is to rethink a fairy tale that you loved as a child. Where will it take place? Who are the characters and what things do they do?

Hang on to enough of the essence of the original story so that your readers will recognize it. Give readers drama through danger and resolution from chance or magic.

Have fun with this one.

Paying the Bills

Perhaps you are fortunate enough to be able to pay your bills on time and so have excellent credit. When you need a new car, no problems. You are automatically approved for a loan. You decide to buy a condo and the lender smiles as they hand you papers to sign.

Maybe you’re struggling to pay the rent and put food on the table. You pay off the gas company so you have heat and light but postpone payment to the credit card company. You know this puts you in risk of losing the card, but you have no choice.

Your task is to write a story in which paying the bills plays an important role. You can tell the story of an individual who has no financial worries until something happens that puts him at risk. Or you can share the concerns of someone who is just getting by.

The important point is to ensure that your readers feel the joy or the pain, that they walk in the shoes of your protagonist. Dialogue would be important as well as narrative descriptions. Seek a balance between the two.

Have fun with this one.

The Bus Ride

Perhaps you’ve never ridden a bus late at night through a poorly lit area, but you can imagine what it would be like. Shady characters lounging on corners. Strange noises filling the night. Dogs growling, barking. Gun shots ringing out. Sirens. Flames. Shouts.

Consider who is on the bus with you. Are the passengers only little old people sleeping with their heads resting on the windows? Or might there be that one person that makes goosebumps appear on your arms? What causes that reaction? Is it the person’s appearance? Actions? Or is it due to a preconceived notion you have learned from things you’ve read or watched on television?

Your task is to write that story.  Begin with the setting. Establish who the driver is in terms of how she acts toward the passengers. Is she indifferent? Does she challenge anyone and prevent them from entering?

Describe the things that pass by the windows and how they make your character feel. Sensory details are critical. Show us the passengers through your character’s eyes. Make the scene scary by building tension. Something could happen, or maybe not.

Have fun with this one.

Pausing for a Reality Check

Impulsivity is a plus in certain fields of employment. Imagine being faced with a decision that has to be made now, not ten minutes from now or after consulting with a team of experts. Quick thinking and fast reactions save lives in an emergency, solve problems in a production line, and move people safely out of a burning building. Take-charge people can be a benefit to an organization.

Now imagine a scene in which acting impulsively causes serious problems. The man rushes into a burning building to save his cat, gets trapped and has to be rescued by firefighters who could potentially be injured or killed in the process. Or say she’s driving a car, the light turns green and she jumps out into the intersection because it’s her turn. A car running through the light hits her, killing her passenger and breaking several bones in her body.

In both cases pausing before acting would save lives.

This is called taking a Reality Check. Before acting, you stop for a few seconds and analyze the options or the motivations for your thinking. It can be a powerful tool when employed correctly.

Your task is to write a scene in which your character needs to utilize the Reality Check method. Create a complex setting in which important decisions have to be made. Perhaps your character acts rashly, leading to a domino effect of negative consequences.  Maybe your character is the victim of someone who made a poor decision. Readers will need to feel the danger, sense the thinking process and care what the result is.

Have fun with this one.

Speed Dating

Imagine wanting to find the love of your life but you don’t want to hang out in smoke-filled bars with a bunch of drunks. Online sites make you a bit nervous as there is no way to know if the person really looks like their picture, lives where they say they do or have a functional life with gainful employment.

While reading the paper one morning an ad appears for an event to be held at a local community center. You’ve never tried speed dating before, but it sounds like fun.

The problem is that all kinds of things could go wrong. The range of concerns is endless.

Your task is to write a story in which a lonely person goes to a speed dating event. Consider the setting, tone and voice. Point of View is critical for readers want to experience the situation through their senses. Something humorous might appear, something a bit dangerous, or there might be true love.

Have fun with this one.

Scientific Challenges

Back in ancient times, science was not well-developed or respected. One reason was because scientists were seen to be heretics in conflict with the teachings of the church. Eventually the church realized that the medical advancements were important to improve the lives of their members.

The Roman Empire changed attitudes toward research and development. Studies lead to inventions, theories and scientific research. For example, Romans created the first system of plumbing to remove waste. They built aqueducts using arches, designed a primitive cooling system using the hollow spaces in columns and concrete to strengthen buildings.

How a society looks at science influences beliefs and practices. A progressive nation might revere scientists and place their research on a pedestal, while developing country might utilize science to enhance agricultural output.

Your task is to write a story in which science plays an important role. Narrative will be important for setting the scene, but dialogue will allow readers to see how science fits into that world. Your story can take place in the past or future, it can be realistic or fantastical.

Have fun with this one.

A Disastrous Marriage

No one thinks about their marriage falling apart on their wedding day unless there have been hints of dysfunction. We vow to love and obey, through sickness and health, but when things happen, love sometimes takes a walk.

Sometimes the person we marry turns out to be very different once we are behind closed doors. She could be violent; he could be moody. He could have a line of mistresses; she could have an addiction to spending. Her parents might dislike the spouse so intently that they sour the relationship. His friends might be involved in criminal activities that endanger the family.

There are so many opportunities for something to go wrong that it’s amazing when marriages stay intact for so many years. Happy stories can feel contrived and are sometimes so saccharine that readers become disengaged, so bring on the troubles.

Your task is to write a story in which issues arise that lead to the destruction of the relationship. There’s going to conflict which you might want to show through dialogue. You might need to bring in other characters if they are the cause for the problems. Remember to balance dialogue with narrative.

Have fun with this one.

Attitude Toward Medicine

            In much earlier times medicine was often the use of herbs, chants and even bloodletting.  Different kinds of plants were thought to heal specific ailments and injuries. During Medieval times the brewing of potions took on magical aspects when combined with chants and spells designed to ward off evil.

When trading grew into a major enterprise, travelers brought back different plants and beliefs that expanded the understanding as to how medicine was understood and utilized. Materials were tested and studies were done to verify or dispute what was known about various herbal treatments.

Modern society now relies on mixtures and tablets developed through scientific research in university and private labs. Doctors write prescriptions for what they believe is most likely to help their patients.

How we feel about medicine is influenced by where we live, what our families believed and how much we trust medical professionals. Others factor are availability and cultural practices.

Your task is to write a story in which the use of medicine plays a role. Setting is critical for that controls your character’s attitude toward medicine. Narrative is necessary to describe scene, but dialogue will allow readers to see into the minds of the people in our story.

Have fun with this one.

 

Name Calling

Bullies use age-old taunts to belittle those they deem to be weak. It makes them feel bigger, bolder, and stronger when tears pour down the faces of their peers. Name-calling is a toxic disease that masks underlying issues.

Name-calling diverts attention from an issue that makes the bully uncomfortable. Insult the person and they might not challenge or question, allowing the bully to walk away. Another “reward” is elevated opinion of one’s self. Watching how words impact others can give a temporary high.

Anyone who’s been called names knows how hurtful it can be, emotionally, psychologically and socially. People on the low end of the social status often lack friends and feel poorly about themselves. The belittling reinforces those negative feelings.

Your task is to write a scene in which name-calling takes place. Your protagonist might be the one who intimidates others, or might be the one being taunted. What’s important is that emotions come to play and are felt by readers.

Setting the scene is critical. Choses a scenario in which name-calling would be logical, such as in a schoolyard, encounter at the water cooler or while playing a sport. Dialogue needs to be crisp and tight. Don’t let the perpetrator do all the talking. Give voice to the downtrodden as well as to others who take sides.

Reread to ensure that the emotional tone reveals the animosity, fear and heart break.

As always, despite how traumatic the story will be, have fun with this one.

Family Game Night

Many of us older folks grew up playing card and board games. Some of us might have pleasant memories of friendly competition and conversations shared that brought joy and laughter. If the games took place on a regular basis, we probably eagerly looked forward to time spent with family and friends doing something that we could enjoy together.

However not all game-playing is friendly. Imagine a scene in which players are teased, harassed and humiliated. People scream at each other as they declare dominance in terms of gaming skills. Alcoholic beverages are consumed intensifying the belittling. The atmosphere is tension-filled because of the highly competitive situation. Instead of looking forward to those nights, dread looms over the announcement that the time has come to repeat the performance.

Your task is to write a scene in which your character takes part in game night. You choose whether there is friendly competition or cut-throat activities. Or maybe there is a combination of the two.

Begin by setting the scene and placing your character in the midst of the action. Perhaps there is debate as to which game to play, who is in charge and how it is determined who will go first. If younger players are involved, maybe they need help. If so, who takes on that role?

Dialogue and description are key.

Have fun with this one.