Hampton Roads Writers
This is a flexible writing exercise that could also be called Changing the Tale by Changing the Tail.
The idea is to take an existing story and change the ending to something completely different. This will help you understand the basics of story structure, particularly the part where you bring the story to a close.
Pick any story. Now, remove the story's ending from right after the climax and re-write it, changing it to something completely different.
For example--In the fairy tale Cinderella, after the shoe fits Cinderella, the story's falling action and resolution roll into one with the concluding words, AFTERWARD, THE PRINCE MARRIED CINDERELLA, AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.
Consider how the story might end if Cinderella was a little bloated that day and the glass slipper didn't fit. Or what if it did fit but the prince, perhaps being a bit less inebriated than he'd been the previous evening, gets a good look at the filthy, possibly smelly Cinderella and decides that she isn't, afterall, the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Or perhaps they get married, but they don't live happily ever after because . . . . Or . . .
After you've done this exercise a few times with other stories, try fleshing out a completely new ending for one of your own stories. You can also write a few sentences about how your new ending might affect the integrity of the piece. Would Romeo and Juliet be the classic that it is today if the two lovelorn teens had lived? How would that have changed our culture, the literary canon, or the way the most compelling and moving stories throughout history have been viewed and received?
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