This post was written in response to Charli Mills weekly flash fiction challenge.
January 5, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rattling sound. It can be an intimidating sound of protest, a disorienting loud sound, a musical expression or a gentle baby’s toy. Go where the prompt leads you. To take part, join in here!
Today’s flash was inspired by the Christmas season, which has just passed.
The Good Nephew
‘Go away,’ he shouted, covering his head with the woollen blanket, but the rattling grew louder.
‘Leave me alone!’ He was trembling.
‘I don’t want to go there again!’
‘I warned you last Christmas,’ came the ghostly echo with more thunderous rattling.
Minutes later, the ghost discarded the heavy chains and stood by the skeletal corpse in the icy bedroom.
‘I was only reminding you to keep your promises,’ he said closing Ebenezer’s blank eyes.
Then he opened the safe where the miser kept the gold coins and dropped them into his purse.
‘Rest in peace, uncle.’
One of the strategies I use in my retellings of Victorian fiction are ‘what if’ questions.
In the case of A Christmas Carol I asked myself:
What if Scrooge didn’t change after all?
What if there were never ghosts, just a trick to scare the old miser?
What if the nephew wasn’t such a good person?
What if his nephew, became more greedy and tired of waiting to inherit?
The same story with a ‘what if’ becomes another story, which is complimentary to the original story. The more feasible the ‘What if’, the more credible your new version becomes.
There are many possible ‘what ifs’ to any story. Here are some more for A Christmas Carol:
What if Scrooge was an opium addict instead of a miser?
What if Scrooge wasn’t as rich as people thought?
What if the ghosts were time travellers?
What if his nephew was really his son?
What if Scrooge had killed Marley to take over the business?
The options are endless and exciting if the questions are reasonable. It can also work with ‘unreasonable’ what ifs.
For example, if I asked, ‘What if Scrooge was really Prince Albert who was bored at home with Queen Victoria?’ It might work as a nonsense story, but not as an alternative version.
In the Eyre Hall Trilogy, my sequel to Jane Eyre, some of my ‘what ifs’ were the following:
What if Bertha had a child in the attic?
What if Rochester had the child removed?
What if Bertha’s daughter returned to Eyre Hall as an adult to claim her birth right?
What if Rochester went back to his old ways shortly after marrying Jane?
What if Jane stopped loving Rochester?
What if Jane fell in love with another man?
And many, many, many more!
Creating alternate, complimentary, versions of well known novels or stories is fun and creative, because it opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
I love reimagining fiction and reinventing stories.
Some people criticise me for doing so. I answer that writers have been borrowing stories and retelling them since pen was first put to paper (Chaucer, Shakespeare and Scott, did it all the time! Even Dickens did it occasionally).
My retellings are a tribute to the original authors and works, and I consider it an honour to be able to share my reimaginings with my readers.
Do you ever venture into the world of ‘what ifs’ in your writing?