Amazing Kids! Magazine

New Horizons, New Genres

By Sophie Nadel, Writer’s Tips Editor

 

We all have a genre of writing that we are the most comfortable with, be it adventurous short stories, dramatic poetry, comedy playwriting, or anything else. However, it is always a fascinating experiment to step out of your comfort zone and try to write something in a new style! An easy way to test the waters of an unknown genre is to adapt a pre-existing piece. Here are some guidelines to swap up the styles, so give it a try! You might be surprised at how much you like it.

Adapting Plays into Short Stories

This adaptation is very easy. You already have your plot, characters, and dialogue. All that’s left for you to do is to convert the stage directions into written descriptions. Because your audience won’t be able to physically see your story in action, you have to compensate with written actions, settings, and dialogue tags. Unlike in a play, these actions can use metaphors, similes, and other literary devices that readers will enjoy. Additionally, because there are no actors to direct, you have to create the characters with writing. Here is an example of a few lines of play converted into short story:

Two children are on a school playground. AMANDA suddenly jumps up and runs to the audience, frantically asking, “Did you see that?” to various people. She finally returns to the stage and approaches BENNY, who is playing with toy trucks.

AMANDA
Did you see that?

BENNY
No, what?

This is what the excerpt would look like as a short story:

The sun shone bright over the school playground as Amanda raced around on stubby legs. Fellow playmates turned their heads as the tornado of a girl whizzed past them, shrieking, “Did you see that?!” in insane excitement. Finally, she slowed to a stop near the sandbox, pigtailed blonde hair swinging over her shoulders. She plopped down next to Benny, who eyed her uneasily over his toy trucks.

“Did you see that?” Amanda panted, out of breath from all of her racing around.

“No, what?” Benny said, trying to ignore the lunatic girl in favor of his trucks.

You can see from this example how a short story should have more written detail to guide your readers’ interpretation of the piece. There are a ton of freedoms that come with adapting your plays, so make sure you have fun with it!

Adapting Short Stories into Poetry

The first thing to do when adapting a short story into a poem is to play with the line breaks. While stories use complete sentences and paragraphs,
A poem
Will be more
Chopped up.

Try to experiment with these divisions to create a dramatic effect. Another aspect of your writing that you will want to adjust when adapting a story into a poem is the punctuation. Poetry is not as strict as short stories are when it comes to proper grammar and punctuation, and your choices to leave it in or take it out will change the flow of your poem. Also, poems do not tend to be as wordy as short stories, so it is important to boil down your writing to its most essential parts. Rhyming is completely optional but might add some energy to your poem, especially to a lighthearted one. Keep in mind, though, that if you are rhyming, you will have to change the wording of each line to accommodate those rhymes. For example, my poem “Domino Effect” (http://mag.amazing-kids.org/fiction/poetry/domino-effect/) was originally a short story. Here’s what it looked like:

Just as Charlie offers a prayer to his god, or anyone who is listening, his breakfast finds its way out of his body and not in the easy way. Charlie hastily wipes his mouth with his sleeve. He is crying. There are tears in his eyes. Or perhaps those wet spots are just sweat. I guess we’ll never know. He glances around to make sure that no one saw him. Then, Charlie Ladel absconds from the crime scene.

When I changed the story into a poem, I removed some of the details that would make the verse chunky. Additionally, I omitted punctuation from the end of each line to maintain the quick pacing of the story. Finally, to create my rhymes, I reworded the piece so that it still told the same story but in a different way:

But his breakfast still leaves him and goes north, not south
And consequently hurls out of his mouth 

Splashed on the floor like a spilled coffee cup
It certainly was better going down rather than up

Sort of like liquid-y soup on the floor
Mixed with eggs, deformed fruit, and some more

It’s a glowing mucous with a tint of green
Still looking sick, Charlie absconds from the scene

Even though you may be reluctant to change your writing from its original genre or afraid to see what your piece looks like after undergoing a metamorphosis, I encourage you to try it! If you have fun while doing it and learn new things about yourself as a writer, adapting your work will have paid off no matter what the product looks like. You might even find that you like your piece in the new genre more.

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