A time travel writing experiment

Browsing through Twitter recently, this headline caught my eye: ‘6 Ways to Manipulate Time in Fiction’. There’s something really appealing about defying the laws of time. And it got me thinking about how the same story can offer a whole new experience when you play around with the timings. Here’s what happened to Little Red Riding Hood when we tried a time travel experiment together…

The Original

Firstly, why did I choose Little Red Riding Hood? I couldn’t tell you! Perhaps I have children’s stories on the brain after endless retellings to my young daughter. But it was also a familiar tale that seemed to offer the potential for playing around with timeframes and characters.

The original version – ‘Little Red-Cap’ as it was called – was written by The Brothers Grimm. However, for my own writing experiment I wanted to use a more up-to-date version. I chose this one, featured on DLTK’s Growing Together:

Read ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ here.

Inspired by some of the time manipulation ideas in Martin Cavannagh’s guest post for ’Live Write Thrive’ by C.S. Lakin, I got down to writing. I was surprised at how quickly I became immersed in the different approaches, and at how deep the writing went. As a mum, the dangers lurking within the tale of Little Red Riding Hood particularly resonated. I felt quite affected afterwards.

Below is some of the writing from my time travel adventure…


“My darling, what happened?” Mother rushed out of the cottage to greet the two people coming slowly down the path.
    Propped up against the stout woodsman was the crumpled figure of Little Red Riding Hood.
    The woodsman kept his eyes fixed on the ground. “She’s had a bit of a shock,” he said. “An attack-“
    “Oh my goodness!” Mother reached out and folded her arms around her daughter. The girl began sobbing. “Oh Mother, it was so scary! I shouldn’t have stopped in the wood. He was waiting for me, and grabbed me, and-“
    “Who? What happened? Slow down, just breathe. Then tell me everything.”
    Encircled in her mother’s arms, Little Red Riding Hood felt her thumping heart slow its pace. Her chest relaxed and her eyes began to dry. She swallowed. “I was on the way to Grandma’s house…”

It was a perfect summer day. Little Red Riding Hood looked around in delight. Colours were everywhere. Flower heads bobbed in the wind, with their bright petals and plump green stalks. She jumped as a pair of butterflies flew past her nose. They were dancing together, twirling and flickering, their bright yellow wings catching the sunshine. What a beautiful day.
    Slowing her pace, she ambled along the path, dreamily running her fingers through the tall grass. When a shadow crept along the ground towards her, Little Red Riding Hood didn’t notice.

“And that was when you were attacked?” Mother asked hastily.
    “No, no, not then,” Little Red Riding Hood said. “We just chatted. It was fine. He seemed very friendly. But I was late and said I had to go. I went to Grandma’s as quickly as I could.”
    “But he followed you?”
    The girl shook her head.

The door to Grandma’s house was slightly ajar when she arrived. Little Red Riding Hood hesitated, her fingers hovering over the handle. But then she knocked as she always did, and waited to hear her Grandma’s voice.

Multiple timelines (and perspectives)

“Get out of here, we’ve had enough of your sneaky ways,” the nephews jeered.
    “You didn’t think my ways were so bad when I was bringing home the bacon,” the uncle replied.
    All he got in return were snarls and bared teeth. His eldest nephew stepped forward. “You’re a liability. Go away, old dog. Make your own way in the world.”
    “But where will I go?” Surely they didn’t mean it…
    “Now!” With a growl the nephew leapt forward.
    The uncle yelped and lolloped away.
    When he rounded the next clump of trees he began to run. He kept going for as long as his strength would carry him, hoping that he had gone far enough.
    The years were catching up with him; he could feel it in his bones. There were aches and pains where there had been none before, and every time he woke from a nap his limbs were stiff. It should have been a good time of year – springtime: plenty to eat and sunshine to bask in. But the wolf was getting older, and now he was alone.

Reverse chronology

A girl and her grandma feeling relief,
calming themselves after facing the beast.

A woodcutter panting, joining the fray,
dragging the hungry attacker away.

A little girl screaming, crying in fear,
hoping and praying that someone will hear.

A wolf who is snarling, baring his teeth,
eager to bite into tasty fresh meat.

A trick, a chancer, a walk in the wood
– the tale of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’.

Groundhog day

Knocking on the door,
listening for a voice.
What big ears!
Pondering the choice.

Knocking on the door,
peering inside.
What big eyes!
Opening so wide…

Knocking on the door,
swallowing once.
What big teeth!
Girl, it’s time to run.


Is there a story you’d like to travel through time with? Let me know how you get on! Or try out some of the other writing ideas on this blog.

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