Writing in Response 3: Other Texts/Stories
Writers are readers first, you know that. So, why not go to some of your favourite pieces of writing, or films even, for inspiration. Remember Peter Carey wrote Jack Maggs in response to Great Expectations and Bridget Jones’ Diary was a modern take on Pride and Prejudice. The film 10 Things I Hate About You is the modern version of Taming of the Shrew. So if others can do it, why not you?
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Take the original and …
1. Use the title of an original text as your own. Start with the classic writers Shakespeare is useful here – 12th Night, The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing, etc.
Dickens the same – Hard Times, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, etc.
Broad titles are probably best, here are some for a start –
The God of Small Things
A Tiny Bit Marvellous
The Importance of Being Earnest (or Justin, or Beatrice)
Far from the Madding Crowd
War and Peace
Tender is the Night (and on you can go)
2 . Use the central idea and remake as your own – eg Bridget Jones
3. Use the opening line as your start point for an entirely different story. Here are four famous openings to set you in the right direction. For 100 opening lines visit http://www.stylist.co.uk/life/the-best-100-opening-lines-from-books
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea – ST Coleridge, Kublai Khan
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since – F Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again – Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca
4. Use an original image from a poem to wrap a new story around, for starters-
The Love-song of J Alfred Prufrock by TS Eliot
Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll (as did Monty Python)
Kublai Khan by ST Coleridge
Under Milkwood, by Dylan Thomas
1. Take a minor character and give them a story of their own – eg Stephanie Meyer in The Short Life of Bree Tanner and Jack Maggs, who is based on Magwich
2. Take any character and give them a whole new story – what would happen to Jay Gatsby if he’d never met Daisy?
3. Re-write a key scene from a different character’s point of view – in fact re-tell the whole story from another character’s point of view. How would Catcher in the Rye read then?
4. Kill off a character you hate in as gruesome a fashion as you want – enjoy their demise! Patrick Bateman from American Psycho comes readily to mind
Extra Parts for the Story
1. Write an extra episode for anywhere in the novel where you’ve found a gap
2. Write a prequel – what happened before any of the book started to anyone
3. Write the sequel – a common enough thing – take any element of the story and continue it – think Douglas Adams and his Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy trilogy and more…
4. Try some ‘what if’s’ for the story at key points and change the direction of the narrative, the outcome, the ending
(Images courtesy Google Images)
Tags: change the opening line, change the original, characters, Jack Maggs, novels, poetry, Reading for writing, stories, stylist magazine, Tender is the Night, Under Milkwood, use the title, Writing ideas, writing suggestions