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Page history last edited by Laura Gibbs 8 months, 1 week ago


Writing Your Own Story


Each week in this class, you will be reading traditional stories and then putting a new spin on one of those old tales from the reading, re-telling that story in your own words. You got a sense of how that works last week when you looked at the Storybook projects and the stories there. This week, you will choose one of the stories from the Anthology that you read, and then you will re-tell that story in a new way. The main idea is just to see that each story is different, and it's totally up to you which way you want to go, staying close to the traditional story, or going way off in a different direction. It's all good! If you're curious to see what other students are doing with this assignment, you can take a look at some stories from this semester: Stories. (You can click on the story title to see the post in the blog it comes from, and there are stories from BOTH classes there: Myth-Folklore and Indian Epics, and that same stream will also contain stories from Weeks 3 and beyond as the semester progresses.)


Here is how this assignment works; like the reading assignments, it will take you about an hour or so to complete.

  • PART ONE: Learn about creating stories from stories.
  • PART TWO: Choose the source story and choose your approach.
  • PART THREE: Write your story.
  • PART FOUR: Write your author's note.
  • PART FIVE: Find an image to use as an illustration.
  • PART SIX: Publish your blog post.



PART ONE: Learning about stories from stories.


When you retell a story in your own words, you are creating something completely new! You might change the story just a little bit, or you might change it a lot. You might be changing the characters or the plot or the setting or the theme; it's all up to you. Sometimes you might take a story that you really like and find a way to make it even better. Other times you might take a story that you did not like and fix it. You are the storyteller, which means you have the power. You start with someone else's story, but you will end up with a story of your own.


The key thing is this: read the source story, take notes as needed, make a list of characters, outline the plot, brainstorm, do research . . . but when you are actually writing your story, do NOT look at your source. Every word of the story will come from you, every sentence, every paragraph; that is what makes it your story! You might want to look through the examples here: Original Writing versus Copying. After you have looked at the fable examples there, you should have a better idea of what it means to create a story that is truly your own.


PART TWO: Choosing the story source and choosing your style.


Choosing an Anthology story. Now that you understand just what is involved in telling a story in your own words, for this week's story you will choose from one of the stories in the Anthology that you read earlier this week. You should be able to use your Anthology Reading Notes to zoom in on the story you want to work with. Depending on when you did the reading, you might need to go back and re-read the story to fresh your mind on the details and to think about what part(s) of the story you want to work with in creating your own version.

Microfiction suggestion: If there were several stories you liked, then take a microfiction approach: instead of one long story, you can create several short stories. Here's an example of what that could mean (instead of a 400-word story, it's 4 100-word stories!): Tiny Tricksters (those are stories from the India class Anthology).


Then you need to decide if you want to do a basic retelling (that works great!) or add your own twist (also works great!).


Choosing your style (1): basic retelling. To create your own version of the story, you can just tell the story over again, using your own words. You can keep the same characters, you can keep the same plot — as long as you are using your own words, that makes it your story! With every word you write, you are making your own choices. How will you get the story started? How will you introduce each character? What will you do to keep the action going? Where can you include dialogue to bring the characters to life? How will you bring the story to an end? Those are all decisions you will make, word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph. If you are feeling a little nervous about this assignment (and I know that creative writing is something new for most students in the class), I'd recommend a basic retelling, and then you can get more adventurous as you develop your storytelling powers with each new story you write.


Choosing your style (2): add your own twist. You can also choose to let your imagination run wild, and there are all kinds of ways you can transform a story, going in some new direction. Here are just a few possibilities to ponder based on the key components that you will find in any story:

  • characters: try a gender-flip, turn humans into animals (or vice versa), or give the characters new personalities, etc.
  • plot: change the ending, add a plot twist, add a prequel, add a sequel, save the characters, or kill them off, etc.
  • setting: set the story on the OU campus, in outer space, at Hogwarts, in the White House, in the Marvel universe, etc.
  • theme: does the story convey a message you agree with? or disagree with? retell the story with your own "lesson learned"
  • style: add dialogue, add details, use more contemporary language, turn the story into a rap song or a ballad, etc.

Anything you can dream up will work, staying close to the story, or going in a very different direction!


PART THREE: Writing your story.


As you write your story, here are some specific guidelines to keep in mind:


Length. Your story post needs to be a minimum of 300 words long and a maximum of 1000 words (not counting the author's note). There are some browser-based word count tools you can use to keep track. If your story is coming out too short, add some dialogue, description, visual detail, etc. If your story is coming out too long, here are some tips for shortening the story: Short and Sweet Writing Strategies.

Microfiction. See note above; you can always do several tiny stories if you want! So, instead of a 300-word story, you could do 3 100-word stories, which is what I did for Myth-Folklore myself this semester (I'm a student in Myth-Folklore this semester, along with teaching): Tiny Tricksters: Jackal, Monkey, Agouti.


Using a word processor. If you use a word processor (Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Zoho, etc.), make sure that you do not do any formatting in your word processor: no bold, no italics, etc. — just type the text. When the text is ready, copy-and-paste it into your Blogger blog post, highlight the text (Control-A will highlight the whole text), and then use the Tx button on the Blogger editing bar to remove any word processor formatting, fonts, colors, etc. Then you can use Blogger to add bold, italics, create links, etc.


Read out loud. The best way to proofread your writing is to read it out loud continually as you work. Reading out loud will that help you avoid typos and other simple errors, and it will also allow you to improve your writing in other ways: listening for sound patterns, varying the sentence length, writing lively dialogue, etc.


PART FOUR: Author's note and bibliography.


After you write the story, you will need to add an author's note plus bibliography for your source:


Author's Note. The author's note is where you show your readers how you started with a traditional story and ended up with a new story of your own. Whether your author's note is long or short is up to you; it depends on what kind of changes you have made to the original story and how much you need to explain to your readers. This week, all the other students will have read the same original story that you did since everybody read the same Anthology, so the author's note can be very short. In future weeks, you'll probably need a longer author's note because not everybody in class will have read your original source.


Bibliography. In addition to the note, you need a Bibliography that cites your source story. Keep it simple: all you need is the title of the specific story you used, plus the title and author of the book (assuming the original story comes from an online book). Most important of all, you need a LINK TO THE STORY. That way your readers can go read the story for themselves if they want. Make sure you link to the specific webpage so that your readers can get there in a single click. Here's an example:


Bibliography. "The Man in the Moon" from Laos Folk-Lore by Katherine Neville Fleeson. Web source.


You will find the bibliography you need on the story page in the Anthology. For more details, see these Bibliography Guidelines, and if you ever have any questions when you go to write the Bibliography entry for a story, just let me know! For this class, you can keep it very simple; I am not asking for APA or MLA or any of the more formal bibliography styles — just a simple story title, book title, author, and link is all you need.


PART FIVE: Finding an image.


Now that you are done writing, you should find an image you can use to illustrate the story. For help finding non-copyrighted images to use, see this page: searching for online images.


Remember to download the image and then upload it to your blog, and be sure to include Image Information — a CAPTION plus a LINK to your web source, along with information about the artist if applicable (for example, if you use a painting or other artwork).


IMPORTANT: You can put the Image Information anywhere in the post that you want; it does not have to go next to the image. When you are using an image as an illustration for a story, it might be more powerful on its own, with the caption down at the bottom of the page with the story bibliography. You can decide what looks best to you when you add the image to the story!


PART SIX: Publishing your blog post.


Okay, now you have your story, author's note, bibliography, and image: you are almost ready to publish. Here are a few last things to check on:


TITLE. Make sure your blog post has a title. Include Week 2 Story in the title, followed by your actual title. For example: "Week 2 Story: Susanoo and the Tornado."


LABELS. Please label your post with the word: Story. Blog labels are case-sensitive, so make sure you use the capital "S" - Story. You should also label the post for the specific week: Week 2. That means your post will have two labels, separated by a comma: Story, Week 2


Proofreading. Make sure that you proofread your post one last time by reading it out loud from start to finish, in addition to doing a spellcheck.


Okay... you are done! Go ahead and hit PUBLISH. Take a look at how the blog post turned out to make sure all the formatting is working correctly, click the links, etc.


Editing. If you need to edit the post some more, you can do that. You can access all your posts from your dashboard at Blogger.com. To edit a post, just click on the post in the Dashboard, and that will open it up for editing. Then hit Update to publish the new version.



CONGRATULATIONS: You have written what will be the first of many stories you create this semester!



POST TITLE: I used the phrase "Week 2 Story" plus my own title. 

POST LABELS: I used two labels — Story, Week 2 — separated by a comma. 

NOTE: The note shows how I started with an old story and created my own.

LENGTH. My post is between 300 and 1000 words in length.

IMAGE. I included at least one image with image information (caption and link).

BIBLIOGRAPHY: I included basic bibliography for my source, plus a link.





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