Writing Fiction: Create a Retelling of Your Favorite Story | Kiersten White | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Writing Fiction: Create a Retelling of Your Favorite Story

teacher avatar Kiersten White, Author

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      The Power Of Retellings


    • 3.

      Choosing Your Story


    • 4.

      Breaking Down the Original Story


    • 5.

      Creating Your Retelling Breakdown


    • 6.

      Creating Your Retelling Roadmap


    • 7.

      Final Thoughts


    • 8.

      Explore More Classes


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Struggling with writer's block? Not sure where to start? Looking to give your plot and characters more life? Enter the classic writing exercise: the retelling!

Join best-selling author Kiersten White for an exciting and humorous class all about taking familiar tales and creating something unique, innovative, and entirely your own. Through her signature sense of humor, Kiersten shares her step-by-step process for creating a new take on a well-known tale, giving you everything you need to take your favorite story and make it your own.

Kiersten uses her own retelling of Little Red Riding Hood to help you:

  • Find the right story to retell
  • Identify the key themes of your classic tale
  • Translate the original elements into your retelling
  • Plot out a roadmap to start writing

Plus, Kiersten created downloadable worksheets you can use to follow along and map out your own retelling throughout the class.

Perfect for writers of any level, this class will give you the foundation you need to join the tradition of retelling favorite fairy tales and classic stories.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Kiersten White



Kiersten White is the New York Times best-selling author of The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, the And I Darken series, comprised of And I Darken, Now I Rise, and Bright We Burn; the Paranormalcy series; Slayer, and many more novels. She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, which, in spite of its perfection, spurs her to dream of faraway places and even further-away times. 

See full profile

Level: Beginner

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: One thing that I love about retellings is that it allows me to play with existing stories and reclaim it as my own. It's almost a shortcut to a good story because you have to do less of the groundwork of building the world and more of just the playing in it. Hi. I'm Kiersten White. I am an author and today I will be teaching you about the power of retellings. I write books for teens and young readers. Several of them have been retellings. For those of you who aren't familiar with the concept of retellings, it's when you take a classic story and twist it, so that it's something new. Some of my books that have been retellings are the most recent, Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein which is a Frankenstein retelling and Bean Stalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales which is a collection of twisted fairy tales and nursery rhymes. One of those fairy tales, Little Dead Riding Hood is what we'll be analyzing today to talk about breaking down your own retelling. We're going to take you step-by-step through the process of creating a roadmap to your own retelling. So we're going to look at the story. We're going to break it down into its pieces. Then, we're going to apply that to your own story. It's such an exciting time, I feel like for storytellers and for writers to be able to bring out these perspectives that have been ignored in traditional stories or classic texts. One of the most exciting things for me about retellings is the ability to find these voices and find those stories that we haven't had access to before. So grab your quill, find your nearest animal familiar and let's get ready for a magical adventure. 2. The Power Of Retellings: So what is a retelling and where do we encounter them? In order to have a be a retelling, you need to hit those certain recognizable markers that your audience is going to see and be like, ''I know what story this is.'' So, for example, West Side Story is a Romeo and Juliet retelling because you have the families specifically at war with each other, you have certain characters die at certain times and certain ways, which is a very Shakespearean thing. Then, you have that classic Romeo and Juliet ending that we're so familiar with. The Lion King is a retelling of Hamlet, with a young prince banished, the king murdered by his brother, and the prince having to return and adventurous father's death to save the kingdom. You'll find retellings throughout literature, film, television, throughout pop culture. We love these stories and we tell them over and over, and over again. There's a reason for this. There's a huge storytelling advantage to using a story that people are already familiar with and already know they like. Because retellings are familiar, they offer an entry point for your audience and also gives you a great hook. It's much easier to say, ''My stories or Macbeth retellings set at a private boarding school, like Robin Talley's As I Descended.'' Than it is to say, ''I wrote a story about a bunch of kids competing at a boarding school.'' It just gives you that extra punch, an easy way to capture it and describe it, and to hook in a new reader. So because you have an existing platform and an existing way to hook in readers, retellings are a natural fit for a first-time writer. One of the most powerful things about retellings is it allows marginalized voices who haven't typically had their stories told to create something new out of something familiar, so that they can reach these audiences who maybe have never experienced their perspective before. From personal level, retellings are incredibly powerful to write because you're able to engage with stories where you never saw yourself, you never saw your perspective or your point of view, and you're able to take these stories and make them your own and claim them in a way that you couldn't have otherwise. A great example of looking at a story and finding your own story within that is Ibi Zoboi's recently released, Pride, which is also a Pride and Prejudice retelling, but it takes place in a modern day, quickly gentrifying Brooklyn, where the main character is constantly facing issues of class and education and race. So instead of having the fairly inaccessible British nobility, you have a very modern, very American story as only Ibi Zoboi could have told it. So now, that we've talked a little bit about what retellings are, we're going to get a little bit more specific, talking about which ones you can and can't retell, and which ones you should. 3. Choosing Your Story: There are certain limitations on which stories you can and can't tell, but there are also some things you should take into consideration on whether or not you should tell that particular story. So which stories can be retold? It's a legal issue. There's a thing in the United States called public domain, and most things go into public domain about 50 years after they exist. But, it depends on the property, and it depends on how it was copyrighted, and if the family in state still has rights. So basically, if it was written, I would say sometime after 1850, check the legal aspects before you decide to write a retelling because you might not be able to publish it. The rules differ from country to country. England has a lot stricter rules about public domain. It takes a lot longer for things to become public domain. So, you'll want to put in a little bit of research time before committing yourself to a retelling that you might not be able to sell. Where do you find this information? Your best friend, Google. Google will be able to tell you about public domain laws, and about specific stories when they were published, whether or not they're still under copyright. Another easy way to tell is if it's being remade by a lot of different people in a lot of different ways, it's probably public domain. This is why fairy tales are a great type of story to retell because they're an oral tradition that's been passed down for generations. Nobody owns the copyright on them. So most of us are familiar with fairy tales in relation to the Grimm Brothers. What the Grimm Brothers did is they travel through Europe and collected fairy tales. They collected these stories that have been passed down as oral traditions in various regional areas and condense them, transcribed them, and published them. Those are the ones that we're most familiar with. But, you can find variations of those fairy tales in a lot of different versions and in a lot of different cultures. One of the biggest factors in whether or not you should retell something is if you have a personal connection to it. You are going to be spending a lot of time with this material, researching it, thinking about it, pulling it apart. So you need to have an emotional connection to it. That can be love. Maybe it's your favorite story and you want to engage with it. Maybe you hate it. Maybe you hate Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. It drives you crazy, but you can't stop thinking about it. That's a great way into a retelling. Take that story. Take the things that you hate about it. Change them and make them your own. So for example, take Frankenstein. It's always been my favorite classic novel. I love it, but it also drives me nuts. It was written by Mary Shelley who was this badass teen goth genius. But, even she couldn't see women characters in her book as anything other than perfect angelic victims. They're there to be pretty and then die tragically. That always bothered me because I wanted to see the women be as dynamic and interesting as Mary Shelley herself was. So when I set about to write a Frankenstein retelling, I knew I wanted to tell it from the perspective of those women characters and reclaim their narrative and turn them into the same engaging and dynamic and complicated women that Mary Shelley was. While retellings are a great avenue of storytelling for anyone, I feel like they're especially important and powerful for traditionally marginalized voices. So taking the traditional storytelling hero Spider-man, we now get Miles Morales who has the same powers, but uses them in a different way and experiences the world in a different way. It's just so fun to see new stories from fresh perspectives that give your readers an insight into your world. One of the most powerful aspects of storytelling is that we're allowing our readers to come in and experience a life that isn't theirs and a point of view, and a world that they never would have otherwise which is an incredibly powerful tool in creating empathy, which I feel like is at the heart of what we do as writers. To help you as you are setting out on your own retelling, here are some key questions you can ask to get started. What classic stories do you feel strongly about? Can you see yourself in the story? What is missing from the story that you wish had been in there? Why are you writing this story now? So these questions will help you as you're starting out exploring different stories and feeling out which ones you want to tell. So for example, I've always loved Little Red Riding Hood. But it is such a creepy story and I thought, "It could be even creepier, couldn't it?" So, I took it and instead of telling a story about how to protect little girls from monsters, I told a story about allowing little girls to be monsters. So, take your time at this stage. Feel out what story you love that you want to claim as your own. Do the research on the stories so that you understand it, and also check to make sure that it's under public domain, so that it's a story that you can tell. Once you've landed on the story that you want to retell, you're ready for the next step. We will show you how to go point by point and break down the original story so that you can plan your retelling. 4. Breaking Down the Original Story: In order to start on your retelling, you're going to need to have a deep understanding of the story that you're working with. So, in order to help you do that, we are going to break it down into its most critical parts. So, in my book, "Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scary Tales", I retold classic fairy tales. In order to show you how to do the same, we're going to use Little Red Riding Hood as an example. Little Red Riding Hood is a fairly short story and is very simple in structure but this process of breaking down can apply to the shortest fairy tales to the longest works of Shakespeare. For any story, there are five key elements that you'll need to take into account when you're planning. The first one is story beats. This is the setup of your story and the basic path that it follows. The second one is setting. Where and when does your story take place? The third one is characters. Who are your characters and what roles do they serve in your story? The fourth one is writing style. How are you going to tell this particular story? Finally and the most important is the key question. What question are you exploring by telling this story? So, the first part is the story beats. We're going to go through this traditional tale of Little Red Riding Hood and pick out the most important parts of the story. Once upon a time, there lived a sweet little girl who was beloved by everyone who saw her. Gnats are introduction to Little Red Riding Hood. The other important detail that we're going to need to know about her is the detail that's consistent throughout every telling of Little Red Riding Hood, and that is her cloak. That's going to be important for us to see. Next, we see her go into the woods and disobey her mother's rules slightly. The grandmother dwelt far away in the wood, half an hours walk from the village and as Little Red Riding Hood entered among the trees she met a wolf but she did not know what a malicious beast that was, and so she was not at all afraid. "Good day Little Red Riding Hood," he said. "Many thanks, Wolf," said she. "Whither away so early, Little Red Riding Hood?, " "To my grandmother's," she replied, and then she gives him very specific directions to her grandmother's house. So, we see the wolf ahead of her, met her grandmother and eat her grandmother. We have that delicious tension as a reader as we know what she's skipping toward but she doesn't. So, Little Red Riding Hood arrives at the house and meets her grandmother but but grandma is a little bit different. This exchange is the other most important part of Little Red Riding Hood retelling because it's the exchange that any reader familiar with the story will be waiting for. "Oh! Grandmother, what great ears you have." "The better to hear you with," was the reply. "What do we eyes you have". "The better to see with". "What great hands you have". "The better to touch you with". "But grandmother, what great teeth you have. "The better to eat you with." Then he eats her. But the final beat of the story is always Deus Ex Machina of the woodman showing up with his axe, slicing open the wolf and pulling a much wiser Little Red Riding Hood and her poor grandmother out of the wolf's belly. So, we have a story of an innocent little girl who goes into the woods, talks to a stranger, is devoured and then saved, learning her lesson to never again talk to strangers or stray from the path. Very fun light children's fair. Right? So, that's important to note, that is, the tone of the story and what it was trying to accomplish. This was seriously creepy story and I love that about it. So, that's going to go into my concept of what I want to do with it. Now, we're going to go through and we're going to write down the story beats that we feel like are the most important parts of the story so that we know what we're working with. So, for our setup, we have Little Red Riding Hood who has to take a basket of food to her sick grandmother in the forest. She enters the forest wearing her signature red cloak. She meets the wolf and isn't wary, gives him directions. The wolf goals ahead of her grandmother's house, eats grandma and sets himself up to wait for Little Red. Little red arrives and goes to the Classic of "My, what big" sequence. Upon "My what big teeth you have," the wolf eats Little Red, and the ending, we have Little Red who has learned her lesson and will never stray from the path again. So, as you're breaking down your story beats, make sure you know the setup of the story, make sure you know the ending and then follow the major beats of the story while paying close attention to the more iconic aspects that make the story what it is. Your story beats do not necessarily all need to be purely plot. You can also include really important character traits here, such as Little Red Riding Hood's cloak or her innocence, those things that make the story what it is. The next section is setting. When and where is the story set? So, the first thing is geography. Where is your story physically located? In Little Red Riding Hood, it's always in a forest outside a village. We know it's vaguely European in origin because that's where the story comes from. The second thing is time period. When does your story take place? For Little Red Riding Hood, it's in a time of wild forests, wolves, woodsman and that classic marker of once upon a time. All stories are a product of the time in which they were created. So, by understanding more about what was happening in Europe when Little Red Riding Hood was an oral tradition, you'll have a deeper understanding of why they told that particular story. When I was writing "Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scary Tales", I looked at each individual fairy tale, that is, where it came from, when it originated and I tried to read as many different versions of them as I could so that I could get a real feel for what they had been and what they had transitioned into. Now all that research didn't necessarily come out on the page. You're not going to use everything that you study. By knowing your story inside and out, where it came from, who was telling it, you'll be able to better decide which parts of that you want to use and which you can leave aside. The next section of our breakdown is character profiles. We're going to look at each of the main characters in the story, basic characteristics and who they are. By knowing all of the characters that we have to work with, we can decide how we want to change them, who we want to emphasize and who we want to leave out. So, for this story, we only have four characters to work with. We have Little Red Riding Hood, who was our main character. She's innocent, she's naive, she's a little bit disobedient, and she's the victim. We have the mother, who is typically not in the story very much. She's there to set things in motion and give Little Red Riding Hood the cautions that will be ignored. She's the authority figure. We have the grandmother, who also doesn't play a significant role in the story. She's there to also be a victim. She's also the goal. She sort of the plot point that they're all striving toward. We then have the wolf. He is our antagonist and the villain. He's there to prey on Little Red Riding Hood's naivety. Our next section is the writing style. How is the story told? What methods and what language is the author of the story using to communicate the tales to you? So, the writing style in a classic fairy tale is not as important to study as a key elements that make that styles so familiar. In Little Red Riding Hood, that's things like the details of her red cloak, the path through the forest and the wolf, and then the repetition of the story that readers are so familiar with and looking forward to with the back and forth exchange between Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf. Finally, we have our key question. The key question is the last element of our story breakdown because once you've really dug into the story, you understand what it was, when it was told, where it was told. You really would understand why it was told and what was the driving question behind that particular story. So, the key question of Little Red Riding Hood is, how can we keep little girls out of the woods? Which is a metaphor for keeping little girls innocent. A lot of people will look at it and say that the key takeaway is don't leave the path and don't talk to wolves. But really at it's heart Little Red Riding Hood is a story about making sure that little girls don't deviate from what you tell them to do, because if they do, they'll be severely punished. This is very much a reflection of the time in which it was written, which is why it's important to know where the story came from and why it was told. Little girls were viewed as property, and if they stray from the path, if they did things that their parents didn't want them to or if they associated with people who weren't family, that would damage their value. So, this was a story that was told to keep little girls in line. So, now we have all of the pieces that we need. We've broken down the story into its most basic parts. We have it all in front of us and we were able to have really analyze it and dig in so that we can decide how we want our own storytelling to go. 5. Creating Your Retelling Breakdown: So, once you've broken down the original story into its most basic elements, you are ready to start plotting your retelling, and figuring out how you want to tell this story. So for our retelling breakdown, we're going to shift the order a little bit in how we analyze our story and plan it out. We're going to start with our key question because that's the most important ingredient that we have. That's going to be the thing that guides us and directs us and helps us make each of these choices. When we know what question we want to explore, we'll be better able to determine how we want to explore it. Next, we're going to be looking at setting. The setting is going to be very crucial to your key question, because it's going to determine how you tell the story, where and when it's set is going to influence your characters, your voice decisions and your narrative style. Then, we're going to look at writing style. Your writing style is going to determine the tone of your retelling, and it's going to capture those special things that only you can bring to it. Then we're going to look at our character profiles. You know your question, you know your setting, you know your writing style. So, you're going to look at the characters from the original and decide what you're keeping, what you're changing, what you're throwing out, in order to best explore your key question. Finally, we're going to look at the story beats. We know our question, we know our setting, we know our writing style, we know our characters. So, now we can go point by point through the original story and decide how these changes that we've made are going to influence our own retelling, and plan that out. So, we're going be working through the way that I did this for my own retelling in Little Red Riding Hood. Your key question should be rooted in the original key question, whether it's taking us a step further, inverting it or twisting it. It's going to need to relate back to that original key question, because that's why you're retelling this particular story. My key question was, what if little girls weren't punished for making their own choices? So often we tell little girls what they should be, what they can't be, what the can and can't feel. So, it was important to me to tell a new story with that, and to give Little Red Riding Hood permission to be just as much as she wanted to be. So next, we're going to jump to setting, because setting is going to be really crucial to how you tell the story. You're going to need to know that and have that all in place before you move on to the next steps. So, decide when is your story set and where is your story set. That's going to influence everything from your character choices to the actual language that you use. So for my setting, because I was doing a collection of fairy tales and I wanted them fairly close to the originals, I decided to have it in sort of a generic castle and forest fairy tale land, loosely based on a European origin. That way, I could play up the similarities to draw more attention to the humor that I was using. For the time period, I also used once upon a time-ish. I wanted to avoid any modern sensibilities to draw more attention to the absurdities of the original fairy tales. This was a conscious decision on my part not to modernize the fairy tales or to move them into a different location or place, because I really want to do direct retelling so that I can focus in on how absurd and inherently funny the original fairy tales were. Whatever decision you make with your setting, it needs to go back to that key question and the best way for you to explore it. So in the case of Little Red Riding Hood, my key question was so similar to the original key question, that I felt the best way to explore it was to keep so many of the trappings of the story the same. But maybe the best way for you to explore your key question, is to move a time or place or setting, so that you can get a totally different perspective on it. It's up to you. The setting will have the biggest impact on how you tell the story, working hand in hand with writing style to create the atmosphere. You're going to determine your writing style by playing to your strengths. And if you don't know your strengths yet, that's okay. This is a great time to discover them. While you're doing your early exploratory writing, try out different styles. Try the first-person, try the third-person, what feels the most natural, what is the best suited to telling the story that you want to talk. I really wanted to capitalize on my own strength as a writer. I wanted it to be a funny story. So while it was creepy, the creepiness was softened by the humor and by the playful take on it. Humor is always a good way to go with a retelling, because humor itself, is where you take something familiar and you shift it just slightly to the side so that you see it in a new light that reveals the familiar as absurd. This is your chance to really play around when you're getting started. Try it out in different tenses, try it out in different points of view. You can decide if you want to write it very close, mimic to the original so that the changes you make stand out more, or if you want to flip it on its head and write it in a very different style, so that when you hit those key markers that your reader is going to recognize, it's this fun surprise that they weren't expecting. So, it's important to get a handle on your writing style before you move on to developing your characters, because your writing style is going to influence your characters and your characterizations, and the way that you write about them. If I were writing a serious literary retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, it would be quite different than my humorous zombie one. So be really settled in your writing style and that's going to help you develop your characters an, d the ways that you want to present them. So for the character profiles, for my retelling Little Red Writing Hood, obviously, I included the Little Red Riding Hood. But in my version, she is not the perfectly well beloved sweet naive little girl. She's angry and she's impetuous, and there's a common refrain that she's too much. She's too smart, she's too wild, she's too angry. Because a lot of times, I feel like little girls are encouraged to be less than what they want to be, and that was important for me to explore with her character. I also have The Wolf, who thinks that he knows exactly what little girls, are and in doing so, underestimates her. He's very arrogant and certain that the story is going go exactly how he thinks that it should. I have the mother and the grandmother, who don't spend a lot of time on page. They're mostly there in Little Red Riding Hood's memories, informing who she is and what she's reacting against. Finally, I have The Woodsman, who is there to save the day whether he's wanted or not. So when you're developing your characters in a retelling, it's important to keep as many similarities as you can, so that the reader recognizes those. In my case, I knew I was making drastic changes to Little Red Riding Hood's personality. So I kept her cloak, I kept her exact path the same, and I kept the characters around her the same. The wolf is still arrogant and thinks he's very cunning, her mother and her grandmother are still there as the authority figures, telling her what she can and can't do, and the woodsman is still showing up out of nowhere to help her even if she doesn't ask for it or want it. By keeping as many similarities as I could, I was able to emphasize the changes and go through the story in the same way, but with a new main character changing things. In this story, I chose to have the same main character, because she's the touchstone of Little Red Riding Hood, given that she's the Little Red Riding Hood. But sometimes, a really fun way to approach a retelling is to pick a different character. Maybe one who didn't exist in the original narrative, or a side character who wasn't important, and telling the story from their point of view, seeing how that changes the story as they move through it as the new main character. That's what I decided to do with The Dark Deceptive Elizabeth Frankenstein. Instead of focusing on Victor and his narrative, I picked a minor side character in the original book and told the exact same events, through her point of view, looking at how that change in perspective really shifted everything about the narrative. So, now that you have everything planned around the story, you know where you're going to tell it, how you're going to tell it, what it's going to look and sound like and who's going to star in it, you're ready to break down the beats of your own story, which is essentially plotting it out. In this plotting process, you're going to decide what are the points and the beats of the original story that you're going to keep, and what are the ones that you're going to change or ignore. So for my setup, Little Red Riding Hood has to take a basket of food to her grandmother in the forest, but this time she is not happy about it. She's pretty angry. She enters the forest wearing her signature cloak, but she immediately chooses to leave the path rather than being lured away. Next, the wolf finds her and they talk, but instead of being innocent and happy to talk to the wolf, she recognizes he's a threat and she threatens him right back. While the wolf does all of his grandmother devouring off stage, we see the first major change in the plot of the story, and that is that Little Red getting sick in a very odd way. Little Red arrives at her grandmother's house, and goes through the classic my what big dot-dot-dot you have, which is what the reader's expecting, but this is where the really fun shift in the narrative comes. We have a reversal where the wolf begins to notice that something is not right with little girl he's planning on eating. He goes through the 'my what's scary things you have' narrative until it culminates in her, eating him. For our ending, Little Red Riding Hood having become a zombie, gets to choose whatever path she wants. So going back to my key question, I analyze the parts of the story that needed to change in order for me to explore it, and those mostly revolved around Little Red Riding Hood. So, instead of being sweet and innocent and naive, she was angry and savvy. When the wolf approaches her in the forest, she's no longer, it is simply giving him information she shouldn't, she knows that he's a threat and she threatens him right back. Then, in the cottage, where we have our classic back and forth exchange, I was able to flip that on its head, where the wolf slowly realizes that this little girl is so much more than he ever thought she was. Since I shifted Little Red Riding Hood's personality, I was able to analyze every scene she was in, and the way that she responded and reacted to the world around her, and analyze it based on my new key question and my new Little Red Riding Hood, how did the original respond versus how would my own Little Red Riding Hood respond? It's different, and that's going to shift the course of the story. So, you're still hitting those same beats, you're just hitting them in a different way. So, go through the story beats of your new retelling, figure out how your character and your perspective is going to shift the way that they respond, that they react and the path that the story takes, because your character is going to be the driving force of the story, and they're the ones who are going to be exploring that question with you. So, once you have your original story breakdown and you're retelling break down, put them side-by-side, compare and contrast, decide what you want to keep, what you need to have in order for your retelling to be exactly what you want it to be and what you're going to change in order to make it your own. So, now that we have our breakdowns, we'll be ready to create a road map that's going to guide you as you start out writing your retelling. 6. Creating Your Retelling Roadmap: So, once you have a breakdown for your retelling, you're ready to create a roadmap which is sort of a high-level guide for your writing. It's different than an outline. An online can be very specific and detailed and this is much more general. This is just hitting the main points and themes that you are going to use to guide yourself as you write. So, we're only going to break it down into three parts. The beginning, how you want to set up your story and introduce readers to your retelling. The middle, what your conflict is and how you're going to explore it. Then the ending, how you're keeping them in the same or changing it, just whatever you're aiming toward with your retelling. The goal here is to have a very basic structure that's not tying you down into details and all those little decisions that you're going to make later on as you're writing, but to give you a very basic broad overview that's going to guide you as you write. So, section one is the beginning. You're going to look at, how are you introducing readers to your story, how are you setting up your story, how are you drawing your readers, and how are you introducing your characters, and the essential question that you're exploring. How are you setting everything up? We have our section one, beginning, for little data writing. So, we establish the story and the tone because I knew my setting, and I knew my writing style ahead. I already put in the work for those. That immediately is what draws the reader in. Then we move on to character. One Little Red Riding Hood shows up on the page. She's slightly different and the reader is going to pick up on that. Because we've done that work in the character section, we know who she is and we know how she's going to move through the story in different ways than the original. Finally, after setting up the premise, and drawing the reader in, showing them what's familiar and what's new, we start to make our first big changes. Those all relate to our key questions and what we want to explore with this story. So, for the Little Red Riding Hood, the first big change besides the fact the Little Red Riding Hood is angry, is that, she's choosing to walk off the path instead of being lured there. It's this series of choices and character changes that's going to kick off our story and introduce the reader to this version of Little Red Riding Hood. Once we've established the setup and started our story, we're going move on to the middle. The middle is the real meat of the story. It's where you're walking through it with your main character. It's where you're going find your conflicts and the events. You're going to depend most heavily on your story beats for this section because those are going to guide you through the plot, what you're changing, and what you're keeping the same. So, for the middle of Little Red Riding Hood, I tried to follow the traditional path of the story. So, I knew what was going to happen and the sequence of events but, I got to twist it wherever Little Red Riding Hood made a decision or interacted with another character. Those were my critical points that I looked out for as I was writing. Since this isn't an outline, it's a guide, not all of your points in here have to be plot points. They can be more directions for yourself to remind you as you're writing what you want to do. For me, that was reminding myself that I want to follow the traditional path of the story but look for every place where I can twist it, make it scarier, make it funnier. So, as I was following that path, when Little Red Riding Hood enters the forest, she's wearing her signature red cloak, but she chooses to leave the path which immediately close my reader into the changes that I'm making. When she meets the wolf, she threatens him because she knows what he is and she's not going to mess around with a wolf. He leaves her hoping that the ending of the story will be an easier time to catch her. This is where I got to be playful and twist those themes that are familiar. Then finally, Little Red Riding Hood shambles along the path instead of skipping and ends up at the cottage where I got to have the most fun with this story and change that "My what big" ears you have exchange, flipping it around on the wolf so that the wolf then becomes the victim to Little Red Riding Hood. So, again in the middle, your goal is to have the main points that you want to hit, the ideas that you want to cover, anything you want to make sure you don't miss. It's not an outline, it's a guide. So, feel free to take notes to yourself here or mark out specific scenes that you don't want to forget. This is also a really good place to take notes on those key elements of the original story that you don't want to pass over because those are going to be the touchstones of your story. Those are going be what your readers looking for, and it's super excited and delighted when they come across. So, for Little Red Riding Hood, I wanted to make sure that it all pivoted on the fun of flipping that, "My what big teeth you have" exchange, so that Little Red Riding Hood becomes the predator instead of the victim. So, I made very careful notes to make sure that I hit every part of that exactly how I wanted to. Section three is your end. This isn't necessarily exactly how you're ending the book. What this is what you're aiming for with your retelling. It relates again to that key question. That question that you're exploring, how do you want to resolve it? How do you want to end up having addressed that question? Doesn't mean you have to plot it out till the words the end. It just means, it's your target. What are you aiming toward and where do you want the resolution to fall? For my ending, I put down a few notes on where I wanted to end, where I think I'm aiming for. So, in this case, I end up with Little Red Riding Hood revealed as a zombie, having devoured the wolf, and shambling off into the world to do whatever she wants, wreak havoc and mayhem not worrying about what the adults in her life are telling her she can and can't be. The next section of the ending portion is questions that I want you to ask yourself. As you're writing, as you're looking at your roadmap, are you aiming for the right thing? Is the direction you're heading going to answer your central question in the most engaging way? Is this the most interesting way that you can tell your story? Is this the way that you want to reshape your retelling? It's okay to re-evaluate as you're writing, and just shift course because you're going to have that key question to guide you and always be able to refer back to it. Now, we're going to look at Little Red Riding Hood in my book to look at the beginning, middle, and end and how this roadmap behind the scenes informed the final draft. So, when I was opening my story, I had let myself have a little narrative aside where I introduced the readers to my version of Little Red Riding Hood and set up why I was telling this particular story. Once upon that same time, a little girl went into the woods. Little girls go into the woods all the time. They go there to pick berries or to dangle their feet in cool, clear streams. They go to play hide-and-seek, though they can't say who they are hiding from or what they are seeking. They go there to make burrow for themselves and find special hidden places where they think they could maybe live forever. Little girls go into the woods because the woods are wild places, and little girls are told they must never be wild. But the woods like wild things, and so little girls like the woods. Woods keep the secrets that adults forced little girls to have. And many little girls know, deep in their darkest heart space where no one else can ever see, something no one else does. They are actually monsters. So, after my aside where I got to establish why I was telling the story, I introduced our Little Red Riding Hood. It was very simple. At this particular time, in this particular forest, the little girl going into the woods wore a long read cloak. So, having established our story and Little Red Riding Hood, we get to the middle which is where we start telling the story, but begin our deviations so that the reader knows this is not a typical Little Red Riding Hood. She carried some bread, some cold chicken, a bit of cake, a cork-topped glass bottle of lemonade, and some porridge from the stupid castle. Surely, a castle could send better food than porridge. "Now, Jill, take it straight to your grandmother," her mother had sternly cautioned. "Stay on the path, and no dillydallying about. You are still in a lot of trouble for what you did to Jack, young lady". The little girl pulled her cloak down lower over her face. Jack hadn't gotten in trouble for kicking her out of her own bed and making her sleep on the floor. Jack never got in trouble for climbing on things, or shouting, or knocking all the heads off of the flowers with a stick. Jack never got in trouble for bragging, or spitting, or pushing. She was not one bit sorry for pushing him into the wall. That was part of why she was being punished so much. You and I know that parents want to see that you feel bad for what you did. If she could have worked up some remorseful tears or written a flowery apology letter, she would probably have been off the hook. But she just couldn't do it. She was always in trouble anyway for something ridiculous like talking too loud, or eating too much, or laughing too brightly. Even her face got her in trouble for looking too smart, or too mean, or too sullen. She liked being too. She didn't want to stop. Her stomach growled. She growled back at it. And then the woods growled too. This is our middle. This is where we discover that our Little Red Riding Hood isn't being pulled along the path, merrily skipping along oblivious to the world around her. She's making choices. She's an actual person who is angry and sullen and isn't getting to go down without a fight. Here, you can see the beats that we called out in our roadmap coming together and informing the type of story that we're telling. Little Red Riding Hood is going to be the driving force. She's going to make different choices that are going to lead us to the end of our story. At this stage in our story, Little Red Riding Hood has taken her own path. Still arriving at grandmother's house but in a slightly different format. This is where it gets fun. "Why, Grandma," Little Red Riding Hood said, her voice low and creaking like old rotting wood crunching beneath a foot, "what big eyes you have". "The better to see you with, my dear"." Why, Grandma, " Little Red Riding Hood said, her mouth beginning to water for some reason. "what big ears you have. " She shuffled forward until she hit the edge of the bed. "The better to hear you with my dear." Her "grandmother" let out that garbage-disposal laugh, then covered it up by pretending to cough. Very soon the wolf knew Red Riding Hood would comment on his teeth, and then he'd get to be clever and well-fed. This was the best day of his life. "Why, Grandma," Little Red Riding Hood said, leaning much too close over the bed, "what delicious brains you have". "The better to-wait, what?" The wolf sat up, dropping the blanket." No, that's not what you're supposed to say. You're supposed to notice my teeth and then, I'm going to say, "The better to eat you with, " and then you'll scream that delightful little girl scream, and I'll gobble you up". "Gobble, " Red Riding Hood said, a thin stream of drool escaping her mouth. "Yes, that's right. I'm going to eat you, but first, I'd like, eat you" Red Riding Hood said. "Yes, I know, you can stop repeating everything I say, it's getting annoying". "Eat you," Red Riding Hood said again. Her hood fell back and a shiver went down the wolf's spine. He swallowed nervously. "My, little girl, what red eyes you have". Red Riding Hood said nothing. "My little girl, what great skin you have". Red Riding Hood said nothing. "My little girl, what sharp nails you have. " Red Riding Hood said nothing. "My little girl, what strong teeth you have". The better to eat you with my dear, I say as we turn away from the horrific scene of gore and gorging that followed. So, if you remember my key question was, what if the little girl isn't punished for making her own decisions? I took it to the furthest possible conclusion I could. Not only does Little Red Riding Hood get away, but she becomes the predator, then goes on to terrorize the countryside. For this ending, I always knew what I was aiming for because I really wanted to write that reversal of the "my what big eyes you have seen". That was the most exciting part for me in this retelling and that's one of the fun parts of retelling, is you have those special scenes to look forward to as kind of your goal posts. But one of the things that I evaluated constantly as I was writing this story is, am I doing my question justice? Am I making the right character choice by turning Little Red Riding Hood into a zombie? How does that serve my narrative as a whole? How does that strengthen this story? The roadmap is a great way to synthesize and condense all of the work that you did breaking down the story. Whether you want to make it more detailed, and turn it into a more extensive outline, or keep it loose like this to just sort of guide yourself as you're finding your way to the story, however, you end up using your roadmap. The most important thing to remember is that key question, why are you telling this story the way that you're telling it? That's going to guide you throughout and you can keep coming back to it at any stage in the process. 7. Final Thoughts: Congratulations, you did it. You have a road-map to a successful retelling. You've already laid all the groundwork you're going to need in order to be able to capture the story your way, the way that you want to. The writing process is different for every person and technical aspects of it can vary depending on the project you're writing or when you're writing. But I do have a few key tips that might help you. In the end though, however you get through your road-map is how you get through it and you have the tools you need. Stories evolve in the telling. So, you might diverge from your road-map and make changes that you weren't expecting. It's okay to edit and update your road-map as you go along to reflect the new directions that your story might take. Part of the fun of writing is surprising yourself as you draft. At the end of every writing session, open up a new document, write down what you accomplished in those scenes and what needs to happen in the next few scenes so that you're always leaving yourself directions. After every big section in your book, take stock of your story arcs. Where are you? Where are your characters? What's your central question? How is your aim toward that? How is your aim toward the ending? Do you need to shift things in order to accomplish it or are you on the right track? One of the most important things for me as a writer is momentum. I hate losing momentum on a first draft because then I start questioning myself and worrying about it. So, one thing that I've found is really helpful is if say I get to page 300 and I realize I made a choice on page 30 that wasn't the right choice and I need it to change in order to have the perfect ending. Rather than going all the way back to page 30, derailing my progress and starting over, I open up a new document, I make a note to myself about what I need to change and then I continue writing it as though I had already changed it and it had been that way all along. That way, I can get to the end of my draft and I already have an editorial document waiting for me to guide me in my revision of the next version of the book. First drops can be tricky. It's never going to look as good on the page as you imagine it in your head and that's okay. A first draft isn't about perfection, it's not about polish. You can't edit a blank page. So, for this, use your road-map and just focus on finding your way through the story. Retellings are a great way to get a start as a writer or to continue to develop your skills as a writer. If there's one thing I want you to take away is that you can find your own story anywhere and we want to hear your story. If you've finished your story breakdown and you have your road-map, or if you've started writing your story already, upload it to the project gallery, we'd love to take a look. Thank you so much for joining us today on this class about crafting your own retelling. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope your road-map serves you well and I can't wait to read your story. 8. Explore More Classes: