Winter Prompts for Re-writing Classics

Spellbinder submissions for the Spring 2023 Issue (publ. April 2023) are open until February 14th. We have shared some prompts on our social media channels during the past week to boost your creativity and imagination while submissions are open. The prompts we posted during this submission window are under the theme of “Re-writing Classics”, which we feel is very fitting for the crisp but ethereal winter months. Please read on if you are curious about some hints and tips on how to respond to the prompts we have shared on socials!

First prompt: “Re-tell your favourite story from classical literature in a completely different setting. You can decide to modernise it, take it back in time, add fantasy elements, or even make it into a horror story. You can use a table to list the original story’s plot points and characters with your reworked versions next to them.”

Second prompt: You accidentally end up as a character in a story from classical literature, but as yourself. You need to blend in at all costs: if the other characters realise you don’t belong there, they might start to ask questions. What will you do to stop them from finding out you’re from 2023?”

Third prompt: “Instead of writing a modern adaptation of a myth, write a mythic adaptation of a modern story. What elements, plot points, and settings can immediately transform a story into a myth? How can you transform everyday tasks into heroic accomplishments?”

While the above prompts can seem to be fiction-focused, please feel free to change and adapt them to any genre and any style of writing that you’re more accustomed to. Here are some exercises to make your response to any of the above prompts as effective as possible:

  1. First, choose which piece of classic (prompt 1 or 2) or modern literature (prompt 3) you are going to re-write. If it is classic, what makes it a classic? What makes this piece good for being re-worked? Is it adaptable and/or timeless? If it is modern, what makes this piece one that could be transformed into a myth? Are there any plot points that remind you of something a mythical hero would be tasked with? Practice answering these questions before moving onto the next step. If the answers make you doubt the story you plan to re-write, you can potentially decide to try a different one.
  2. As hinted in prompt 1, we recommend constructing a table to visualise and define the original story’s plot points, settings and characters. On the right handside of the original, use the table to define how you are going to re-work them.
  3. For prompt 2, you can use the table to add plot points and/or add new details to the original plot points. This will help you figure out how and where in the story you will arrive in the classic story, as well as what you will do to hide in the crowd.
  4. Now, decide whether you can use all or need to pick and choose some of the re-worked plot points for your final re-worked piece. Think about the length you aim the piece to be as well as how to still make it recognizable (apart from including the classic story in the title, of course!).
  5. Keep the table you made handy and potentially write a second table or diagram with more details if you think that would help your writing flow.
  6. Lastly, as you start writing, pay special attention to the settings, the clothes, the dialogue, as these may need to be adapted. These will be vital to re-working the classic story and making it believable for the reader.

Hopefully, these tips, examples, and exercises have provided some inspiration for you to go ahead and re-write pieces from classic literature you like. As always, let us know how to get on!

Psst… our submissions are still open until February 14th, so why not submit your re-written classics? We would love to read anything you produce based on the above prompts, so please don’t hesitate to check out Spellbinder’s submission guidelines and submit your works through our submission form. 

Linda Arrighi, Nonfiction Editor

Featured Image by Clem Onojeghuo on Pexels

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