Drafternoon Recap — How Storytelling Is Just Recycled Art With Heidi Redlitz

As a copywriter and avid reader, Heidi Redlitz is a fan of stories. Since writing is what she does for a living (and for fun), she figured she'd make storytelling the focus of her second Drafternoon presentation. Here's her recap of why we love a good story, even if it's been told before.

Stories are our entertainment, our creative outlet, our way to connect with other people.

And everyone's got a tale to tell. Here's mine, in bulleted form:

  • I'm a San Diego native
  • I've got a giant family that lives mostly in Encinitas
  • I'm a reformed running junkie who's trying to find better balance through yoga and water sports
  • I was a copy editor and Science & Health writer at UCLA
  • I was a soccer ref, summer camp counselor, and outdoor guide
  • I backpacked on-and-off for 2 years
  • I drafted a geography textbook and curated a surf blog
  • I started at TCG in January 2014
  • I tutor high school students on the side

Reworking Classic Stories For The Modern Age

The art of storytelling is why I've always been fascinated by Greek and Roman culture. The stories we read now about gods, heroes, love, and pride have been recycled for thousands of years.

To give an example, I used the story of the Greek Minotaur:

Minos, king of Crete, had a son who died at the hands of the Athenians. For revenge, King Minos seized Athens, declaring he’d destroy the city unless the Athenians met this demand: every 9 years, seven young men and women would be trapped in a labyrinth for 14 days. While they tried to escape, they'd have to fight off the Minotaur, a half-bull, half-human.

Sound familiar? The story of King Minos is the basic premise for the The Hunger Games. It's not an exact copy, since the Minotaur's labyrinth never had survivors. (Greek and Roman stories rarely had happy endings.)

Even so, both stories play on the theme of sacrifice. They both ask, just how far will you go to survive? Hunger Games is a classic story reworked for the modern age.

Here are some more examples of new twists on old stories:

  • 300. This one's based on the timeless story of the underdogs risking their lives for freedom. In this story, the underdogs don't win. (Like we said, Greeks don't like happy endings.)
  • She's All That. It's a retelling of Pygmalion, a Greek tale about a sculptor who actually falls in love with his own masterpiece. In She's All That, the popular guy also falls for the girl he "creates."
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? It's Homer's Odyssey set in 1930s South. Instead of an epic saga of noble Greek warriors returning home, O Brother revolves around three convicts escaping prison to find buried treasure. It's a clever movie that challenges how we define a hero.

I won't bore you with examples of just how many modern hits have been reworked from old narratives. (Hey, even Shakespeare ripped off a lot of classics.) But you get the idea. Even "the greatest story ever told" has been told before. It's just been reinvented using new characters, new settings, and a different language.

How Storytelling Relates To TCG

When you're a copywriter, you tell a story. You have to sell a product, educate your customers, or give your readers the inside scoop. Whatever your intention, you must  involve your audience. When people relate to your story, they want to be part of it. For a copywriter selling a product, the audience becomes part of the story when they buy that product.

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