Day 4- The 40 Minute Retelling by Julie Duffy

Set your timer…today’s StoryADay writing prompt forces you to focus!

The Prompt

Set a timer for 40 minutes and then retell a story that you know well.


The story might be a fairy story or fable, or perhaps you just wish that series you watched had a better finale, and you fancy rewriting the last half of that episode. (Remember, fanfic is fine as long as you’re not selling someone else’s ideas and characters as your own!)

To write a 40-minute story, I propose this timeline (and I’m serious)

  • 0-5 minutes: use the Short Story Framework to brainstorm your character and their need, and the first action they will take to move towards it.
  • 5-15 mins: Write the opening of your story based on those notes
  • 15-35 mins: brainstorm and write 1-2 ‘and because of that’ actions your character takes, which take them towards the conclusion of the story.
  • 35-40 mins: write a quick ending when you have answered the question of whether or not the character gets what they wanted.
  • 40-43:20: do a victory dance (seriously, put on some happy music and dance around your room. Celebrating your wins is important!)

This week, you might have noticed, all the prompts have built-in limits.
There’s a reason for that.

Historically, writers get very excited in the first week of StoryADay, and that leads them to get a bit over-ambitious. Stories start to balloon into novel ideas, and it’s hard to finish a story like that every day. With so many ideas lying around unfinished, it’s an invitation to burn out.

So, in recent years, I always start the challenge by pulling back on the reins a little, and asking you to enjoy the creativity that comes from limiting the possibilities for your daily writing practice.

Julie Duffy

Julie Duffy is a writer and founded StoryADay in 2010. She finds it very easy to get lost in her writing. She maintains that nothing in her life would get done without timers and calendar alerts. Her husband agrees.



Here’s your next Bingo Piece. Download the pic, print it out and paste it onto your bingo sheet. Then share a picture of it on social media with #storyadaybingo

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!