Essay #1: Retelling the Story

So far this semester, we have examined short stories told in a variety of ways by different kinds of narrators. For our first assignment, we are going to use our creativity to retell one of these stories using a different kind of narrator. Additionally, we are going to write a short essay about the retelling that compares this new version to the original.

Part 1: Retelling

Choose one of the stories we have read so far this semester. Identify the narrative style used in that story, and choose a different style that you think would offer readers a different experience with the story. You will need to make decisions about what would change, and you will need to eliminate some details and add in new details. To do so, remain in the world of the story–that is, you can’t change the characteristics of any characters.

For example, you could switch from an omniscient narrator to a limited narrator, or to an autodiegetic narrator (remember what that term means?). Or you might switch which character narrates. Consider what new limitations exist when you make that switch. This might change the thoughts or even the rooms the narrator has access to. Give your story an appropriate title.

You can retell either the entire story if it’s short enough, or you can choose a particular scene or series of scenes that make sense to retell. This portion of the assignment should be approximately 600-1200 words, or roughly 2-4 pages.

Part 2: Thinking about retelling

Imagine that we are collecting our new versions of these stories into an anthology. Attached to each story would be a short essay that provides the readers context for your story. This essay should compare the narration in the original version with the version you have written. The first paragraph of the essay should be the introduction, in which you introduce your topic and texts, and narrow your focus into a thesis statement. The thesis statement for your essay might be something along the lines of Although the original short story’s  XYZ narrator conveys 1, 2, and 3, this retelling uses an ABC narrator to highlight 4, 5, and 6. This is just a suggestion, but you might think about it as a model.

This essay should be approximately 900-1200 words (roughly 3-4 pages), must use quotations from both the original story and your retelling, and should make it clear to your classmates and anyone else reading the anthology the results of the narratorial choices you made. We will actually collect these texts electronically and make our anthology available on the OpenLab, so make sure you include work you are proud of–that means that it shouldn’t be something you write in one sitting and submit without revising, editing, and especially rereading!


Part 1 outline due in class: M 2/25

Part 1 draft due in class: W 2/27

Part 2 outline due in class: W 2/27

Part 2 draft due in class: M 3/4

Parts 1 and 2 due electronically: W 3/6 (details to follow)

Questions? Feel free to ask them here.

4 thoughts on “Essay #1: Retelling the Story

  1. Some additional thoughts:

    heterodiegetic narration: 3rd person
    omniscient narrator

    homodiegetic: first person
    character narrator
    autodiegetic (narrator=protagonist)

    What thoughts and places does the narrator have access to?

    retrospective narration
    reliable/unreliable narration

  2. I’m retelling the story for “Young Goodman Brown” and I wanted to know if can do 3rd person Omniscient narrator on Faith instead if Goodman Brown. In the story, I will talk about what happen to Faith.

  3. This sounds like an interesting story! But you should review the definition of omniscient narrator to make sure that’s what you mean. I think what you describe is actually a different type of narrator. Can anyone advise heyheihey123?

  4. Heyheihey123 everyone avoids to write as 3rd person omniscient narrator. It is really easy to get messed up. I think, at our level first person omniscient narrator would better.

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