This time, I was remixing/mixing and matching stories. I’ve written about that previously, too: Mix and Match (contains a lot of Pride and Prejudice).
This time I listed some key characters from Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood, and looked for similarities (warnings of risk, insufficient information, victims of predators, wily carnivores), and for ways to link the stories (misguided/rash actions, trapped by other’s choices, manipulation and threat, innocent third parties).
These suggested some possible stories that I could combine with various aesthetics: an innocent in high society; vanishing or seeking revenge; victims working together.
Then I started adding the visual elements, pushing the Little Red Riding Hood elements into the high society version (hothouse flowers, fur hoods, red gowns).
And vice versa (magnificence, ropes of flowers like jewels, beautiful hair).
And then just following the ideas and the lines — food and home, a red wolf, a beastly woman, until I ended up with the first line of a story to play with another time, that “Once there was a woman who accidentally changed her daughter for a wolf”, which feels like it asks enough questions to start a tale.
You can see in the final note that I was still working out exactly what I was trying to do with these exercises, although I knew I was chasing something (and would continue to). But it was very helpful for working on retellings and riffs of existing stories, and a way to clarify ideas into something “vivid, coherent & deliberate”.
- Pick two stories at random (fairy tales, favourite movies, etc — the least like each other, the better, e.g. Pride & Prejudice and Jurassic Park). Then find at least 5 similarities between them (forcibly and improbably, if necessary).
- Concentrating on those similarities, how could you edit one of those stories to be more like the others? Try a quick paragraph or sketch.
- Look only at the list of similarities. What sort of new story you could build out of them?
- Finally, make a list of the key imagery from one story. How would adding those elements to the other change it? (Try a quick paragraph or sketch seeing how it would work in practice).