[Write On Wednesday] A Rewrite Game from Marta Pelrine-Bacon

Today’s prompt is a guest post from StoryADay founding participant, Marta Pelrine-Bacon. I’m thrilled to share this complex and fruitful exercise for you this week. And do yourself a favor and check out Marta’s writing and art in the links at the bottom of the page.

The Rewrite Game

art by marta pelrine-bacon

Write a scene or a short story.

Flash fiction might be ideal. Write the scene or story in a particular style. Write something noir, comedic, tragic, or erotica. Write it to be literary or fairytale. Do you want it to be gritty or appropriate for children? Think about where this story would be on the bookstore shelves and write it in that style. Go!

Finished? Finish before you continue with this prompt. Think of this as a game. If you want to instead, take a scene from someone else’s story you love.

Okay. Good. Now rewrite this scene or story from the beginning but in a completely different style. Did you write something noir? Write the same scene as a fairytale or a piece of erotica. Whatever it is, rewrite it in a different style.

Tried it? Do it again. What can you do this time? Rewrite it as a farce?

How many ways can you rewrite this scene?

Here’s an example. This flash fiction piece, Devotion, I wrote and Flash Fiction Magazine published in 2014. It is meant to sound like a fairytale.

            Ella Mariah Kane lived by the sea and waited for her husband to return. At first the people in town understood and counted along with her how many days, weeks, passed. Later, they offered condolences and brought her food.

            “But he returns every day,” she told them, smiling.

            People looked around but saw no boots by the door nor smelled the sweat and fire of a man at home. But they didn’t ask because this was one of those places where asking felt like staying too long after dinner.

            Ella would’ve told them if they’d really wanted to know. He was in the sand the sea rolled to shore that crunched with the broken shells under her feet. He kissed her everyday with the spray of water hitting the rocks. He whispered to her under the sound of the waves coming in and drifting out.

            No one asked about the father of the child that appeared too many months later. She was her own woman, after all, and this wasn’t a place where people pried. But Ella would’ve liked to tell them about her husband’s undying devotion even from the depths of the sea. Didn’t they know that’s why she slept on the beach in the dark?

I’m going to try something silly. Note, I’m going to try. This is a game. You might “win,” you might not.

            You know Ella Mariah Kane? She lives on the beach and waits for her husband. We were nice at first. My mama took her food. Sent her cards. So many cards. The letter carrier complained.

            You won’t believe this, but my mama and I went by and asked her how things were going. “But he returns every day,” Ella told us, smiling like a mad lady.

            Can you believe it? No boots by the door. No sweaty man smell. But what were we gonna say? We just nodded and got out of there.

            I watched Ella one night. Yeah, yeah. I know. But you won’t believe what I saw. I saw her rolling in the sand. I don’t even wanna say what it was like. She tried to hug the waves. I thought she was going to drown she stayed down there so long and came up coughing and spitting up.

            Nobody’s gonna ask about the baby. She’s her own woman, and we don’t pry. We mind our own business most of the time. Yeah, we watch her sleeping on the beach but we see nothing. We’re taking bets on what that baby’s gonna be: whale or mermaid? I think it’s going to be a bucket of salt water. Mama says I don’t know anything. She says it’s going to look like the letter carrier. She hits me sometimes and says it better not look like me.

  Maybe I could start it like a noir.

            Ella Mariah Kane lived in the shadows by the sea and waited for her missing husband to return. The people in town stayed out of her way. Later, someone offered her cigarettes and brought her the card of a detective.

            Or erotica?

            Lithe and lovely Ella Mariah Kane lived by the deep and pulsing sea and waited for her husband to return. The people in town wondered how long she could wait. Soon, local man stopped by to offer condolences and see what she needed.

            Or rhyme?

            Everyone knows Miss Ella Kane.

            She lives on the beach without a name.

            She misses her husband and everyone knows.

            But she never tells them where she goes.    

Hahahaha! Change the story as you need to. The only rule is to keep the essence of the story and the characters the same. It’s fun to try on different styles and see how different a piece can be and what you’re capable of.

This was inspired by the podcast Start with This and their episode on playing games. It’s a new podcast by the fellows who created Welcome to Night Vale, and it is meant to inspire your creativity.

I write and make art. I’ve had several short stories published and a novel. You can keep up with me here or see my art here. My debut novel, The Blue Jar, about girls in trouble and trying magic is here!

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