During the first unit of my Literary Retelling & Impersonation class, we studied tales by the Brothers Grimm and I felt inspired to pick up a very old writing project of mine. We’re required to write one retelling and one impersonation per unit, so I used an idea from a story I wrote over five years ago: Writing a news story parodying a fairy tale!
Since I wrote the original story way back in middle school (eighth grade, I think), it was simultaneously cool and cringey to read it after so long and see how my writing style has changed. Plus, now that I’m actually a journalism major and am learning how to write according to the standards set forth by the AP Stylebook, I better understand the format in which the news is traditionally written and don’t have to, well, wing it nearly as much as I did the first time around.
You can read the original story, a retelling of “Cinderella” I posted in August 2012, here.
Anyway, back to the project I’m creating this semester. The retellings and impersonations written for this class are, obviously, supposed to be based on what we read in the class rather than being about just any old story. So I took all my thoughts about “Snow White,” of which we’d read several versions, and transformed it into a lengthy front-page-type article about how Snow White finally snapped and killed her evil stepmother, the Wicked Queen, by setting her on fire. (A modern update on the red-hot shoes the queen wears as she dances to death, right?)
My years-old “Cinderella” retelling, despite all its now-glaring mistakes, is still one of my favorite things I’ve written, so it was incredibly fun to return to the form.
And now I’ve turned my newspaper fairy tale parodies into my final project in this course.
In my April college update, I said I was going to write a retelling of King Lear based on the Trump and Pence families, and I do still intend to. But… I was spending way too much time brainstorming and outlining, and balked at actually writing it because I was still fumbling for ideas. AND I HAVE A DEADLINE TO PRODUCE WORK. Maybe I’ll tackle that project over the summer, or else save it for another writing workshop some other semester, because I really would love to write it someday: I think it’d be hilarious.
But I don’t have time now, and that’s OK. So instead I’ve been writing little news stories based on all sorts of fairy tales. I have stuff based on “Little Red Riding Rood” and “Fitcher’s Bird” because those were also tales we read in class, but I got permission to branch out to multiple other tales (plus some of Aesop’s Fables) as well to ensure that I hit the length requirement of ten to twelve pages.
I have singles ads, a sports section, an advice column, sections labeled “Fashion” and “Food & Drink,” and missing person notices. I’m hoping to expand to sections about crime and births/deaths/engagements/weddings. Letters to the editor would be fun, too.
I’m drawing upon “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and more. (There’s even a version of “Cinderella,” entirely unrelated to my original attempt. It’s a singles ad placed by Prince Charming.)
Some of my stories are highly influenced by Perrault or the Brothers Grimm, while others are very Disneyfied.
“A Whole New World” has been on repeat lately because it’s one of my faves and I finally hit ten pages yesterday afternoon!
I can’t wait to share snippets of this project once I’ve revised and expanded it some more, probably in two or three weeks! Working on it has reminded me just how much I love writing humor, something I haven’t really done in college because I’ve been self-conscious and tried to be more serious.
What writing projects have you been working on lately?