CREATIVE RETELLING

ENG 102 / Assignment #2

Why Am I Writing This?

  • ENG 102 objectives #s 1-7

Due Dates & Submission Method:

  • Peer Review of creative component in class on April 25th (can bring in full paper)
  • Draft of both components posted in GoogleDrive folder due by April 30th

Quick Run-Down:

  • Analyzing narrative perspective
  • Interpreting prose
  • reading/understanding a literary text
  • Reading/understanding scholarly and other sources
  • Creative Written assignment +
  • 800 word Writer’s Statement

The Prompt

You will choose a compelling passage or scene in either Octavia Butler’s “Speech Sounds” or Junot Díaz’s “Monstro,” and retell it from a different narrative perspective. You do not have to mimic the narrative style of the original (e.g., just because the original is written with a third person limited point of view, you do not have to do the same). You can choose to rewrite the passage from the point of view of any character in the story who is present in that scene. You should feel free to add details and —  depending upon the point of view/perspective you chose — interior thoughts and feelings.

This will not (and cannot) be a retelling of the entire story — you won’t have the time or space for that; it is a short scene, only. This is not an opportunity to completely rewrite the story and change the plot or characters: what happens in the world of the story must hold true in your retelling as well. A character dies? Then they are dead. You do not have the power to resurrect them. This means that you must have a deep and thorough understanding of the world of the original story, so you can faithfully replicate it in your retelling. Your retelling might extend quite a bit beyond the original scene’s page/word count, because you are adding details or emotional insights; these additions still must be in keeping with the world of the story, of course.

You will justify your choices in a Writer’s Statement, 800 words minimum. You will also need to define the original narrative perspective used in the story, and explain why you chose the POV and character you focused on. You should also explain how your adaptation changes or enhances the theme, motifs, or other elements in the story, and how it changes the understanding of the passage and the story as a whole. To do this, you’ll need to draw on sources that present interpretive claims about the story and/or author’s work (i.e., the articles we’ve read together in class).

When thinking about the source, you might want to consider the following: what was an interpretive claim you could make (or that scholars/interpreters have made) about the original story? What might a reader claim the story is “about”?  What do your changes offer the reader that is different, and what else changes in the world of the story with the different perspective? How does the interpretation of the story change in your retelling, or are particular elements or motifs enhanced? If the reader of the original text were deprived of the narrative perspective you rewrote what is lost and what is gained? You should also include a reflection on your writing and creative process: what part was the hardest to do? Where did you devote the most attention in order to make your retelling work?[1]

Make sure you use quotations from the original short story (at least two) to identify the themes and motifs in that text, and you must include at least two quotations from your additional sources to support your understanding of the story. These sources should help you engage with the original work: by establishing how the original story might be read or understood, you can better make a case for what you’ve changed, and how it changes the story overall.

Peer Review Checklist

        When first skimming  through  the retelling, does it:                Yes                    No

have a title?

have a Writer’s Statement, of at least 800 words?

use double-spacing?

use a reasonable, legible font and font size (if they use Comic Sans or something equally ridiculous, draw a frowny face and scold them, please)?

have few (less than three) grammar or mechanical errors?

When reading the Writer’s Statement, does it:                         Yes                    No

Correctly identify the original narrative perspective in the story?

explain the changes they made to narrative perspective?

Identify a possible interpretation of the original story?

describe how the thematic content or the literary effects of the story are changed with this new perspective?

include a reflection on the writing and creative process?

have body paragraphs that display PIE logic (with a unified point and supporting information/evaluation)?

Use at least two illustrative quotations from the original short story?

Use legitimate and/or scholarly sources that make interpretive claims about the short story?

Use at least two quotes from sources to identify a possible interpretation of the original story, or explain something about the original?

Sandwich these quotes?

Use correct MLA in-text citation techniques?

Include a works cited section, with both the short story and the research sources cited correctly?

When reading the creative retelling, does it:                             Yes                    No

maintain consistency with narrative perspective?

If told through a character’s perspective (first person or third person limited), does it tell only what that character would know?

remain true to the world of the story?

flow and make sense?

achieve what the writer intended to do, according to their Writer’s Statement?

captivate your attention as a reader?

Total for checklist: _______ Yes out of _____

Total peer reviews received: _______ out of 2


[1] This assignment and prompt is adapted from three sources: Amy Cummins, “Tell Me a Story: Effective Use of Creative Writing Assignments in College Literature Courses.” Currents in Teaching and Learning 1.2 (Spring 2009): 42-9; Pam Regis, “Understanding Point of View” in The Pocket Instructor: Literature edited by Diana Fuss & William A. Gleason, pp. 75-78; Stephen M. Park, “Flip the Script,” ibid., pp. 78-81.