April 2, 2021-This month we’ll be talking about pushing the envelope in your writing. What does that mean exactly? It means that without pushing boundaries, we’ll never find out how far we can go with our work.
By pushing the envelope in your writing, I’m not talking about putting in gratuitous explicit scenes, or excessive swear words, or shock and awe factors that do not move the story forward; I’m talking about putting your characters in new situations, changing up your writing style, writing in different genres, and exploring new themes. As we explore these ideas, one at a time, let’s start with putting your characters into new situations and what that can entail by using a well known story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. What do we know about the fairy tale? We know that a little girl ventures into the forest and stumbles upon a cottage to explore. She pushes open the door and finds 3 bowls of porridge on the table: one hot, one cold, and one just right. She eats the porridge and then ventures further into the cabin. She goes to a bedroom where there are 3 beds, one too hard, one too soft, and one just right and the story continues. So how can we change this up and push the envelope? We’ll put together a brief synopsis at the end of this exercise.
- New location-The original story takes place in the woods. By switching up the location, you can create a whole new spin on a classic. Picture this, Goldie is a 25-year-old living on her own in a penthouse in New York City that overlooks Central Park.
- New profession-Goldilocks was a little girl in the original book (but perhaps what’s more interesting is that the original story was written with an ugly, old woman as the main character who had been cast out of her community because she’s a thief, liar, and derelict), but using the track we’re on with her being a 25-year-old living in New York, we’ll make her a stockbroker. She works on wall street with three of her closest colleagues that she’s affectionately nicknamed The Three Bears.
- New spin-Goldilocks and the Three Bears was a story written as a fairy tale for children. You could push the envelope in your writing by turning the classic into something completely different such as a horror, thriller, or mystery.
Goldie Walker has everything she’s ever wanted; a great job making tons of money, a penthouse with a view of the park, and an active social life in the most exciting city in the world. One late September evening she returns home after drinks and finds the door to her apartment has been left slightly ajar. She enters the front room and sees a trail of blood leading to her bedroom. She reaches for the light when suddenly she’s grabbed from behind and silenced with a blow to the head. She awakes bloody and swollen hours later with no recollection of what happened. She stumbles to her room to find that the wall safe has been broken into and her late grandmother’s ten carat emerald necklace has been stolen. The only thing that remains is a note that reads, returned to their rightful owner, you have 24 hours to contact us before we kill your thieving brother. Goldie must enlist the help of her friends to unravel the mystery of who robbed her, why, and what her brother has to do with it all.
Push yourself. Explore new takes on old stories and in your writing because you never know where it could lead!