Writing Wednesdays #4: Retellings

On Wednesdays I put my writing cap on. You know, the more age-appropriate one that tries not to curse or come up with morbid ways to end my characters. Nevermind that the eighth graders in my writing workshop are crazier than I am, but you know. Kids. They have the darnedest imaginations.

This week, Jacob Grimm of the Grimm brothers (if he was still alive) would be 231 years old. So I figure, why not base the writing prompt for today on what the Grimms did best? Retell an old story, of course.


I have a pretty awesome group, even if they have dwindled down to a measly four. I mean, make a difference in one person, and that’s kind of the point, right? Anyway, one fifth grader decided on a retelling of the myth surrounding Persephone and Hades, another retold the story of how Captain Hook lost his hand, in the point of view of the crocodile. My eighth graders were especially interested in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the tale of Okiku (the crazy Ringu lady of legends). I swear, the possibilities were endless in this one, and I loved all of their ideas.

Mine, of course, runs towards the fairy tale variety. Because that’s almost half my unfinished fiction right now, lol. That said, the short I wrote was a retelling of my retelling, because I did have a longer version written, but it was erm…not so middle school appropriate?

Retelling: The Tale of Alaeddin

With the first wish, he had claimed her riches.

It had happened gradually enough, a trickle going one day, a trickle the next. Papa had wasted away, not knowing where his vizier had put his finances or whether they were in order. Badra would have stopped the vizier, would have kept Ajuban from going into debt, but Badra was a woman, unfit to take over her nation’s finances.

So they depended on the man with the coin purse, the one they paid off to make the problems go away.

With the second wish, he had claimed her kingdom.

It was too much, and Badra knew things had gotten worse. The kingdom was dying, and her Papa had left her under the auspices of the vizier. In the end, Ajuban’s princess did what she needed to do, what the vizier told her to do, what her people needed her to do. What a princess of Ajuban should do.

She married the man with the coin purse. He reassured her that it was all going to be okay, that Ajuban would be saved. He would be the sultan to do it.

She did not think this was true.

It wasn’t until his third wish that Badra knew she was well and truly lost.

She sat there beside him as he dispensed justice upon Ajuban’s throne. Eyes roving to the audience. Mind lusting over the dancing girl with the swaying hips and the heart of gold.

Once upon a time, Badra had liked the dancing mistress. She was a woman with a strong opinion and a dislike for men who tried to woo every woman.

But now…

Now Alaeddin was sultan of Ajuban.

And with his third wish, he had claimed her people.

Technically, this short is part of a story titled “An Old Lamp for a New,” which I may have shelved because I wasn’t particularly sure where I wanted to go with this. All the same, I thought about the story the other day and just rewrote–in writing workshop–what I had already written a long time ago.

(On a random note: one of my kids tried to banish me from the classroom for making Aladdin evil. She apparently loves the tale of Aladdin. So I laughed. Maniacally.)

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