Writing The Same Story Different Ways


Here’s a secret weapon to keep you writing every day:

Rewrite the same story in different styles.


Urban Red Riding Hood

Is your story refusing to sing? Are you sick of the sound of your own prose?

There are times when every (good) writer feels this way. It could be a moment of great despair, but it could also be an opportunity to try something new.

Your Assignment

Rewrite a story every day, in a different style, until you are really having some fun.

(It’s not cheating.)

Urban Red Riding Hood
Picture by An Untrained Eye. Used with permission
  • Rewrite Little Red Riding Hood as a modern, urban fairy tale (who is she? who is she visiting? what happens next?)
  • Rewrite it as a Harlequin/Mills & Boon romance
  • Rewrite in the style of CSI
  • Rewrite it as if you were Agatha Christie
  • Rewrite it in the style of Glee
  • Rewrite it in in dialogue form
  • Rewrite it with no dialogue

Well there’s a week’s worth of Story A Day writing for you [2. you’re welcome]

That’s all very well but how do I DO that?

Let the structure and the moral guide you – but change the end if you want. Think about the essential elements of the story. What needs to stay?

There’s still a danger that you’ll get bored or start writing the same story the same way every time, so keep the elements you identified as essential and then use some of these ideas to keep it fresh:

  • Change the names
  • Change the characters: Granma doesn’t have to be a Granma and the wolf doesn’t have to be an actual wolf. Red doesn’t have to be a girl
  • Change the setting to somewhere you have actually been and could describe in minute detail, somewhere you can make your reader feel.
  • Start the story at a different place or only show a fragment of it. You don’t have to start with Red walking down the forest path.
  • Go inside the character’s heads – or don’t.
  • Pick a TV show/movie/actor you really love and know inside and out. Begin writing as if you were writing for that show/actor. Your own style will bleed through and that’s OK. The point of the exercise is to try on a different style and see what you can do with it.
  • Think about how your characters look and speak in this setting (Clipped short phrases of a modern copy show? Eloquent archaic English of an Edwardian murder mystery?) Don’t go overboard, but keep the character’s time and place and temperament in your mind before you open their mouths.

The point is to try new things. You have this one day to write the story this way. If it doesn’t work, you can analyse why not, or you can move on.

But at least you aren’t staring at a blank page!

Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!
– Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

I’m going to write A Story A Day in May. I bet you could too…
Not sure? Why not sign up for the mailing list and follow along.

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