Writing Prompt: Twist a Nursery Rhyme

Posted March 5, 2012 by twoamwriter 2 Comments

Let’s get those creative juices flowing this month!

Recently, there have been several “fairy tale retellings” in Young Adult literature (see this post from January for a list of novels).  Have you been thinking about a fairy tale you read as a child and wondered how you could twist it around and make it fresh and relevant to today?

What about nursery rhymes?  Little Boy Blue, Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, and countless others.  Do you have a favorite nursery rhyme — either from when you were a child or from reading to your own child, a sibling, or babysitting charge?

How can you take that nursery rhyme and turn it into a short story?  How does it inspire you?  How can you make the characters  resonate with readers today?  Would you keep it in a fantasy world (such as the case of Humpty Dumpty, with non-humans as characters) or would you re-cast the story to exist in the real world?

Writing tip: In Self-Editing and Revision, James Scott Bell recommends never stopping at one or two options when considering how to add to a story.  He says brainstorm at least ten options to really get your mind open and thinking beyond the obvious.


What do you think about our writing prompts feature? Do you have any suggestions for future topics? Do you prefer open-ended prompts or specific ones?


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2 responses to “Writing Prompt: Twist a Nursery Rhyme

  1. Ooo, there’s a woman on FictionPress who does exactly this! She’s tackled Hansel & Gretel, Cinderella and Jack and Jill I believe. They really good and fabulously dark.
    I wish I could remember her name. -_- I’ll have to check it out; if I can find her, I’ll pop it here.

    Anyway, I think fairy tale revamps are great! So many of them are so dark already (think Brothers Grimm) that if you peel back the layers of what you applied to it in childhood there’s so much you can play with.

    Rock-a-bye Baby for instance, I’ve seen made into a short film and that was a beautiful piece of work. No reason the same can’t be done as a short story or a novel.

  2. When I do repetitive exercises with kids (I’m a physical therapist, and doing repetitions is boring), I tend to sing familiar songs with the wrong words, specifically to keep the kids’ minds off the exercises and get them to laugh. Just today, I sang – Row row row your pants, quickly through the ants. Tickley tickley tickley tickley, that will make you dance.
    Guess I better write these silly things down 🙂

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