So you’re ready to ruin your favorite book? Cool!
First, start with a story you love. It can be a book you’ve read, like Little House on the Prairie or Captain Underpants, or a movie you’ve seen, like The Sound of Music or one of the Star Wars movies. You can even pick one of the stories from the My Rotten Stepbrother series. There are a million different choices you can make, things I never would’ve thought of. Go ahead. I won’t be mad!
[I should add that this exercise is for fun and writing practice only. If you actually tried to sell your own Harry Potter book, J.K. Rowling might not be too happy about it!]
Now, it’s time to decide how you want to change the story. Two ways to do this are by changing the main character or the setting. Here are a few examples for each of those:
- Tell the story from a different character’s perspective. (The Broadway musical Wicked is a great example of this. It tells the Wizard of Oz with the Wicked Witch of the West as the main character, instead of Dorothy. It even gives her a name, Elphaba. When we see the story through Elphaba’s eyes, it seems totally different, and the Wicked Witch turns out to be not so bad after all.)
- Change the main character from a boy to a girl, or a girl to a boy.
- Change the main character to an animal. What if you retold Harry Potter with all pigs? Maybe instead of Hogwarts, they’d go to Peoplewarts.
- Make the main character older our younger. You can even change a grown-up to a kid or a kid to a baby, although if you make Spider-Man a baby, then instead of him slinging webs the whole story may just be about him crying until he gets his diaper changed.
- Make yourself the main character. How would you behave differently if you won a golden ticket to visit Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory? Or if you had to train with Yoda so you could fight Darth Vader? What if Aladdin’s genie gave you three wishes? What would you use them for?
- Or… go totally crazy! Make all the characters aliens, robots or vampires. Maybe they can be talking insects or bottles of salad dressing — even a group of living, breathing paper clips! The only limit is your imagination.
- Change the time period in which the story takes place. If it’s an older story like Oliver Twist, try setting it in today’s world. Or if it’s a modern story like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, see what happens if you set it in prehistoric times and add dinosaurs. Or have it take place in Colonial Times or during the time when your parents grew up. If you’re feeling really daring, try setting it in the future!
- Change the area where the story happens. If it’s in the city, move it to the country. If it takes place in China, try moving it to New York or to a South American rainforest. How would Peter Pan be different if instead of London, it started off in your town?