My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Writing Prompt: From A Slightly Different Angle

Artists in general, and writers in particular, have to look at the world from a different point of view of the rest of us.  It's one of the most frustrating aspects of creative writing for those who have mastered the technical skill of it that the artsy part still eludes them.  They run around asking authors "where do you get your ideas," and fall into Vicodin addled dispair.  It is the artist's vision that delights its audience by making the familiar fresh and new and the exotic seem banal.  Creativity at its rawest is bringing something new into the world from one's imagination, and many writers struggle with creating something more than a "cheap knock off" of a story that has come before.

And yet...no story is truly original either.  All stories recombine elements we recognize with a dash of the unexpected.  Any truly (truly) original story would be strange and unrecognizable to us as it would involve characters we couldn't relate to, situations we couldn't fathom, and settings so alien we could not stretch our imagination to picture them.  Thus what we need is not wholesale originality, but simply an original perspective.  Like that crazy copy-cat Shakespeare, who only wrote ONE of his plays from scratch, we take a classic tale and reframe it.  We bring ourselves to the writing of course.  No matter how we tell any story, unless we are simply plagiarizing, it will be uniquely ours and will echo with our style and voice.  But we can also simply choose to look at the familiar from a different point of view.

Don't forget to have fun!

Prompt: Consider one of your favorite stories.  It could be a fairy tale or contemporary fiction, a novel or a short story.  It could be as simplistic as Star Wars or as convoluted as the continuing effort to keep the Legend of Zelda/Link games in a single line of continuity.

Tell the story in a different way.

It's your choice how you want change the story.  You could tell it from another character's point of view (perhaps even from the point of view of the antagonist as Gregory Maguire has made a mint doing).  You could tell the story from the non-typical gender's point of view (as as been done with Mists of Avalon).  You could also retell the story in a different linguistic way, perhaps adding street slang to Beowulf.  Or take a story that you know as a fairy tale narrative, and deepen the characters while adding dialogue.  Make it be the same exact story...and yet totally different.

Obviously this prompt can get a little long if you let it, so there's no upper limit, but try to hang in there for at least three to five pages.


  1. Stephanie Myers did this with her short story The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. I liked that story more than any of the other works of hers I read.

    1. I might have to get over my phobia of Myers to do anything more than take your word for this, but it's usually a very interesting result.