Retell a Traditional Story | StoryADay 2024 Day 27

If it’s good enough for Shakespeare…

The Prompt

Retell a traditional story. I suggest Cinderella, but you may choose another story that’s closer to your heart. Bonus points for working in a story that comes from your particular cultural heritage.

Things To Consider

The simplest thing to do here is retell the story the way you remember it, but in your own words.

At the very least you’ll get a vivid reminder that you cannot help but be original. Your version will be the version only you could have told.

This is an important thing to remember on days when you’re wondering “why bother writing?”. An alternate approach is to tell a ‘twisted fairytale’, one in which you update or improve upon the original, either by changing the setting or changing the outcome (maybe modernizing it).

If you enjoy this exercise and want to add some source material to your bookshelves, check out:

Grimm’s fairytales, in collections of folktales, Aesops Fables, collections of regional tales.

Here’s a different version of the example I used for the 5-Sentence Story Structure from earlier in the challenge.

It’s not a work of genius, but it was written in one day and I did have fun. If I can do this (and share it!) surely you can write something today 😉

Once upon a time there was a lonely orphan named Cindy whose social media self-help gurus had affirmed her yearning to find her place and encouraged her to take up a particular space in the world, as soon as she decided what she really, really wanted from life.

The surprise drop of a local casting call for “The Bachelor”, coming as it did immediately after she had uttered the intention ‘I wish to be find my place and take up space’, seemed a bit on the nose, but, as Cindy said, “It’ll at least be giggle…not that I want to find a husband or anything, just to see a bit of the world, maybe go to a party or two, have a few laughs, meet some more women my age…” But her stepmother and stepsisters had their own plans for the days leading up to the casting call, none of which involved the pretty little orphan girl who cleaned their bathrooms snagging the eye of the casting director. They kept her busy with housework and changed the wifi password in case she had been planning to log on to ASOS and order a pretty outfit with an risky unsecured pay-by-the-month plan from an e-commerce company—which would have been the only way she could have afforded it.

Cindy sighed and resigned herself to watching audition-line updates on Instagram. (It hadn’t taken long to guess that the new wifi password was “UnbelievablyW3althy”.) She blinked back tears as she watched the Uber pull away with her stepmother and sisters inside.

She was just turning to go back inside, when a rustle caught her attention. It came from the hedge that separated their driveway from the neighbor’s. Mrs Phayree, who kept herself to herself, but sometimes waved to Cindy if she saw her out, hanging up washing, slipped through a gap in the hedge carrying a garment bag.

“Hurry, Cindy, this is for you. It was your mother’s. I bought it from the jumble sale your wicked stepmother had when she moved it. I wanted to save it for you. Your parents were good people.”

The old woman sniffed. She thrust the bag into Cindy’s hands and scurried off towards the hedge, calling over her shoulder, “Just make sure you book your Uber home for before midnight when the surge pricing kicks in!”

Cindy closed her mouth and blinked a few times. The garment bag was still in her hands. Taking it into the kitchen, she unzipped it slowly. Something from her mother?

Her hands shook as she drew forth blue silk, with the care previous generations would have reserved for holy relics. It was a jumpsuit, a style so old that had come back around into being fashionable again. Cindy’s breath caught in her throat, and then she did a little jig right there in the kitchen. She checked the oven clock. She had just enough time. She ran upstairs and changed into her mother’s old jumpsuit. Surely this would be the extra piece of luck she needed to find her place in the world.

At the conference center Cindy was stunned by the seemingly endless parade of perfectly-made-up women and girls, preening in hand mirrors and squabbling over places in the line. She looked at the line.

She looked at the little knot of staffers, in leggings and sweatshirts, hanging around behind the producer’s table. They were laughing and bumping elbows and then scurrying off to do tasks that Cindy could only imagine were important to the day’s outcome. “Hey,” scowled a woman behind her.

“The line’s moving. Are you even in this line?”

Cindy muttered something incoherent and edged aside, drawn towards the production crew.

“I could murder a cappuccino,” she heard a headphone-clad young woman’s voice from behind a laptop at the production desk. The coffee shop was only a few steps away. Cindy looked at the line of pretty young things.

She looked at the production crew. With a firm nod to herself, Cindy ran over to the coffee shop and spend the last of her credit balance on two coffees and carried them back towards the woman with the laptop.

“Hi,” she held out the coffee like an offering. “I’m Cindy. Do you have a moment to tell me a little more about what it is you do?”

The woman looked at her, in her silk jumpsuit, and said, “Aren’t you here to audition?”

“I don’t know anymore,” Cindy grinned, proffering the coffee again. “Cappuccino?”

“Well, I’m pretty busy but you did bring me free coffee, so pull up a chair and let’s chat.”

It turned out that the young woman was the show’s story editor, and she had a budget for an assistant. By the end of the day, Cindy was making plans to follow the production back to California, but not before she popped home to thank Mrs Phayree for her help, because, as Cindy now realized, that was the kind of space she wanted to take up in the world.

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24 thoughts on “Retell a Traditional Story | StoryADay 2024 Day 27”

  1. I’m not going to finish today. I got a slow start, the story is taking longer than anticipated, and I have tickets for something I need to leave for soon. But I’m liking what I started.

    After spending Too Long looking through Grimm’s to come up with something that really spoke with me, I gave up and decided to do the suggested Cinderella. But retelling it to fit in my fantasy world, where everyone is some form of faerie so saying you have a faerie godmother would be like someone here claiming a human one. What my Cinderella has is a godmother with transformative magic.

    My Cinderella isn’t being abused by her family. They all love each other very much. It’s just that she gets really anxious when things are messy and she lives with a bunch of slobs who meet her pleas for help with the housework with advice to just relax. And they would happily take her to the royal ball, but she has social anxiety and they’re willing to lie to let her stay home since she wants to. But then her well-meaning but completely disrespectful godmother is all, “I’ll use my magic to make you go! It’s for your own good!” So she goes, but then gives this weird if kinda cute guy who won’t stop talking to her a fake name.

    That’s as far as I’ve gotten now. I’m planning for him to recognize he’s coming across too strong and back off. Maybe to suggest they meet up for drinks rather than trying to get her to marry him right away…

    I’m liking this, but it feels more like the summary of a novella than a short story. Or maybe the romantic arc of a novel that’s also about something else. Pretty sure I’m keeping it the Ideas I Like folder.

    1. Great idea, Andrew. I am looking forward to reading this novel or the romantic act of the novel or whatever with bated breath. Because anything that comes from you, has to be “classy”.
      Stay safe and nothing but the very best wishes.

  2. Well after much pondering I decided to post my story:

    The Three Little Pigs
    (Play Hide & Seek)

    Once upon a time there were three little piggy kids, Tim, Tom and Jim.

    The weather is so nice out,” Mama piggy said. “Why don’t you boys go out and play.”

    “Okay,” the piggy kids said together and they headed out the door.

    When they got outside they saw their neighbor Willy Wolf.

    “Do you want to play with us?” Tim asked Willy.

    “Sure,” Willy said. “But what do you want to play?”

    “Maybe we can play hide and seek.” Tom said. “And you can be it.”

    “You go over to that tree and count to twenty.” Jim said.

    “Okay,” Willy said. He went over to a nearby tree and began
    counting. “One, two, three, four…”

    Meanwhile the three little piggy kids ran off.

    “I think I’m going to hide in this house made of straw.” Tim Piggy said. He opened the door and hid in the corner.

    “I’m going to hide in this house made of sticks,” Tom Piggy said. He opened the door and hid in a closet.

    “I’m going to hide in this house made of bricks.” Jim Piggy said. “I bet it will be the safest house.”

    “Besides there is a TV and an XBox to play while I wait.” He opened the door and made himself at home on the sofa.

    “…eightteen, nineteen, twenty.” Willy Wolf cried out. “Ready or not, here I come.”

    Willy took off running to find the little piggy kids.

    “I wonder where they could be.” Willy said, looking around. “Maybe they are in that straw house.”

    “Little Piggy, Little Piggy,” Willy called out. “I know you’re in there. Let me in.”

    Tom stayed quiet while he hid in the corner. But Willy looked through the window and spotted him.

    “I’m going to break down this door.” Willy yelled through the door.

    Tom kept hiding in the corner not saying anything.

    Willy took a few steps back, then took off running. With one hard push Willy knocked down the door.

    Tom ran away before Willy could catch him.

    Tom was a little faster than Willy so he was able to outrun Willy. He ran to the house made of sticks and hid inside.

    Tim was hiding in the closet. He heard Tom and let him hide in the closet.

    They heard Willy outside the stick house.

    “Little Piggy, Little Piggy,” Willy called out. “I know you’re in there. Let me in.”

    Tom and Tim laughed as they hid in the closet. But Willy could hear the little piggies.

    “I’m going to break down this door.” Willy yelled through the door.

    Willy didn’t give the piggies a chance. He backed up and ran knocking down the door.

    Tim and Tom were able to get away from Willy.

    They ran off to the brick house. Jim saw them coming. He opened the door and let them in.

    “Let’s just play XBox until Willy finds us.” Jim said.

    It wasn’t too long before they heard Willy yelling outside the house.

    “Little Piggies, Little Piggies,” he yelled. “Let me come in.”

    The little Piggies tried to be quiet, but couldn’t help giggling.

    “Well,” Willy yelled through the door. “If you won’t let me in then I’ll just knock down the door.”
    “You don’t have to knock down the door,” Jim yelled through the closed door. “All you have to do is knock on the door and say please.”

    “Can I please come in?” Willy asked, knocking on the door.

    Jim opened the door letting Willy in.

    The three little piggies and Willy wolf played together the rest of the day.

    They remained best friends forever.

    1. This is just outstanding, Lisa. I haven’t read a tale or fable or call it what you will, like this for a long while.
      This is one of the best stories-retold I have read in my life. You should try sending it to a children’s magazine or even to an adult one, immediately.
      You don’t even know what a masterpiece of a story you have come out with, Lisa. And I mean every word of what I’ve written.
      The best part is the fact that there is an universal message of Friendship, Love and Peace. Inspite of the Wolf’s presence amidst us; of the differences – if we try hard enough, we all can live in peaceful, harmonious coexistence. That’s the plain message for me.
      Thanks for writing the story. Stay eternally blessed.

      1. Rathin, Thank you for your kind, encouraging words.
        I used to be a preschool teacher and always made up stories for my kids.

        This just poured out. I’m usually hesitant in having someone else read my stories but this gave me the encouragement to share more

        Thank you again

  3. I haven’t written in a few days. Life and family got in the way as well as still dealing with my shoulder injury. I will backtrack in June and write the stories I missed. I usually use June as my edit and rewrite.
    Anyway for today’s I did my version of The Three Little Pigs but using piggy kids playing hide and go seek with the wolf.

  4. I did a straight retelling of Cinderella, using an omniscient narrator and introducing dialog only in the transformation scene, with the prince at the ball, and with the prince when he has Ella try on the glass slipper. I was surprised by how many individual details of the story I remembered and retold, as being essential to the tale.

  5. OK, some back story to the following story. Back in April, I did a writing course, on ‘Farytails’, then on Saturday just gone I attended the Sydney Writers Festival and attended a talk by Samantha Shannon, author of ‘The Priory of the Orange Tree’. Both events touched on the story of St George. Then with today’s prompt for a retelling, I felt compelled to write this story, as it was something that had been bouncing around in my head. and when you get three prompts you’ve got to act on it.

    So I hope you like my retelling of the story of St George https://afstoryaday.blogspot.com/2024/05/day-27-retelling.html

  6. I wrote a genderqueered Beauty and the Beast. I very well may go back to this and flesh out the parts I ended up summarizing to finish it within my 1 hour time limit. The 1127 word story just poured out of me, though.

  7. Well, it seems that my post yesterday would have fit this one better. I am not going to do another Cinderella story or rewrite another story. I don’t remember many others from over the years, and it is not a time to read another story in order to rewrite it, so I will skip today’s post and say to check yesterday’s post for my retake of Cinderella.

  8. Yesterday I wrote and posted a Cinderella story and today I wrote another, entirely different one. They were easy to make silly and I like the way my Cinderella characters think. Today’s story is about a modern day girl who sneaks away from her home to attend a party where actors are present. When she’s not scrubbing bathrooms at her home for her stepmother and stepsisters, she reads gossip magazines, and she can barely believe that the current big deal actor is at the party. Sparks fly.

  9. Dear Julie,
    Will you please change ‘myself’ into ‘my’ heart in the first line?
    By the way, I read your sample story today and thought it was a very smart, innovative and thoroughly entertaining piece of writing.
    Keep inspiring and impacting lives. God bless.

  10. On an incessant rainy and gloomy day, I find my heart is not in writing anymore! Worried, I pick up the mobile and start typing. I have to write for the sake of letting the show go on!
    Here is what I could manage to put together, heartlessly.
    Cindy Finally Meets Her Romeo!

    Not so long ago, in a place not far away from Kolkata propah, called Dream Town, there lived a girl named Cindy. She was her parents’ pride and all they wanted was for their only child Cindy to be happily-married in life. The problem was – getting a decent groom was no more as easy as it used to be. No wonder, the rate of divorce was on a all-time high! Their days were spent on a husband-hunting spree since Cindy was a college student.

    Cindy would ofyen look at her reflection in the dressing mirror for long. Fair-complexioned, tall for a Bengali girl of her age – she was 5 feet 7 actually, with an oval-shaped face that would single her out in a crowd. She had large, black eyes with large eyelashes. Her round rimmed glasses adorned her face. And what to tell of her small, rosy lips and all curvy body? In short, there was no one like our Cindy. She was the most desirable girl at college.
    Why was she still single then? Most of her close friends were either paired-up or about to be married off. Why was she still not in a relationship?

    By the time she had completed her Master’s in English from Presidency University, she had given up any hope of ever finding Mr. Perfect.
    In the second year of joining a Government school as an Assistant Teacher of English, all her married colleagues, started teasing her with Arnab, the HoD.

    “My God, Cindy! He’s so dashing. Every girl wants to eat out of his hands! Did you see how that twelfth grader, Vaishali, kept eyeing him constantly in the Staff Room in the pretext of submitting her home work? The girls, I’m telling you, swoon over each other at the very sight of our handsome HoD.” Sharmistha, a former college mate cum Economics Teacher told her one day.

    “You two will make a lovely pair,” opined Sujata, another English Teacher.

    Things were going on not so well when the colleagues, very smartly, arranged a date for them. It was while they were sitting at a cafe, pecking at the delicacies on their plates that Cindy found out Arnab had no table manners. That he ate with his mouth open wide like a monkey, and most importantly, he stuttered when he got excited!

    Long story short, at 27, Cindy informed her parents that there was no hope for her; that she was the only spinster in God’s universe and it would be a favour if they could find someone for her.

    She didn’t believe in arranged marriages. And though she had had a fling with a boy here and there occasionally, she didn’t find anyone worth her salt! ( Status?)

    Then a strange thing happened. Her father ran an advertisement in the local paper. Consequently, some 142 letters from the families of perspective grooms were received, which was cut down to 12. After the second screening, the number was furthermore narrowed down to 3. The first of these three came to Cindy’s on a Sunday with his parents and naturally was made to wait in the drawing room as Cindy had her Tennis Practice at that time.

    Looking exquisite in a white frock, her hair tied knotted at the back, with the racquet still in her hand, She entered the room.

    “Hi,” she greeted them without any preamble. “I’m Cindy.”

    “Namaskar,” the suitor replied, putting her hands together.

    “Hmm….Do you speak English?” Was the next question promptly coming out of her mouth.

    The boy nodded his head.

    “Did you study under ISC or CBSE Board?” Cindy asked him next inquisitively.

    The parents of the boy listened uncomfortably to the conversation. Tension writ large on their faces! Never in their lives, had they experienced anything like this. Were not things being carried too far in the name of women emancipation?

    “Do you play tennis? And yes, I don’t like cooking? By the way, how much do you earn per month?” The questions came nonstop out of her mouth. She had to find out if he was suitable or not. After all, wasn’t she the only child of her parents? Educated and good-looking too!

    Even Cindy’s comparatively modern parents sat there with their arms folded across their chests, looking utterly nonplussed. Wasn’t Cindy stretching the boy’s or his parents’ for the matter, patience too far? Who would be interested in such a shameless girl?

    “My parents had to spend a lot on my education. Besides, they aren’t rich by any stretch of imagination. So, they can’t afford the diary.” Cindy continued, this time looking directly at the boy’s parents sitting on either side.

    “As my father’s entire life savings will be wasted on this wedding thing, I’ll keep depositing my salary in his accounts at least for the next 5 years, that is, if the marriage gets through,OK?”

    “And finally, if I stand out on the balcony on a moonlit night, would you come climbing up for me?”

    For the first time since the boy took his seat on the sofa, broke into a gentle laugh. He had seen through her ploy of trying to drive him away or forming a wrong notion about her.

    “If you’ve finished asking your questions, I’d like to ask one to you too?”

    It was the turn of Cindy’s parents to be unnerved or unsmug(?).

    Then the boy getting up, went down on his knees, something that doesn’t happen normally in the Indian society!

    He stretched out his hand. No one could tell afterwards from where he had plucked the rose!
    Then in a voice as bereft of emotions as you could ever hope to hear any, he shot at Cindy.

    “I accept everything you’ve asked so far – all your demands, terms and conditions. Now, will you be mine. Will you marry me?”

    And they lived happily ever after with half a dozen children to make their lives more colourful and sublime.
    The end

      1. Thank you, Valerie. I forgot about the stepmom and sisters though.
        Please keep encouraging and inspiring. Stay blessed.

    1. Rathin, Well done, considering you said you started out struggling for motivation today you did exceptionally well – good on you for getting started on the phone and finishing by posting it here.

      And the end, it was great, I thought we were going to get to see Cindy test three fellows but the first one nailed it.

      1. Thanks for the critique, Andrew. I really love the way you do it. By sharing your view that you thought Cindy was going to test the other two suitors as well, you have implanted a new idea into my head. Some other time, if I get a chance, I’ll extend the story following your suggestion/idea, whatever.
        I am eager to read your stories but don’t have access to my WordPress account right now for some reason.
        Keep writing, critiquing, inspiring and impacting lives. God bless you always.
        P.S: On reading my own story, I felt ashamed to find so many mistakes in it.

    2. Thank you, dear Julie. And sorry about the other unintentional mistakes. God bless you always.

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