Complete this sentence: "As [character] awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he/she found him/herself transformed in his/her bed into a(n) [adjective] [creature]." Then, write the beginning of a story where the character starts his/her morning.

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This prompt is obviously based on Franz Kafka's story "The Metamorphosis" in which the protagonist, Gregor Samsa, wakes up to discover that he has been transformed into a giant insect. The point of the exercise is one of controlling perspective, and understanding how a character's interactions with the world are determined through not only individual choices but through how others view that character. 

One of your first choices, perhaps even before that of the creature into which the character is transformed, is gender. The character can have a traditional male or female identity, or perhaps some more fluid or transgender identity. Choosing a traditional gender identity makes controlling pronouns in your writing much easier, but it restricts some of the imaginative possibilities for using this species transformation to also interrogate the nature of gender.

Your next choice will be type of creature. Your decision in this case should rest on whether you want a sort of magical realism in which everything but the initial premise of the story is real or whether you want to move into some sort of fantasy world. In the first case, if everything but the premise is realistic, you might choose a cat or dog, perhaps having the protagonist's consciousness moved into that of the pet. More imaginatively, you could choose a mouse or cockroach, where the change in size would make every aspect of the setting function quite differently; to an ant for example, a shoe would be as large as a house is to a human. Alternatively, you could choose a fantastic creature, invented entirely our of your own imagination, or a mythic one. In the case of a transposition into a fantastic creature, the home environment and other creatures in it might also be transformed. You could, for example, have your character fall asleep playing a video game and awake inside the game universe, transformed into a dragon or a Pokemon. 

Technically, you would want to use the character's experiences to show how the species change affects the way the character interacts with the environment rather than just telling us how the character has changed. How you handle this involves deciding whether the character has been given species-appropriate instincts or not. For example, if your person became a cat, the person would either wake up with the skills and knowledge of an adult cat (how to jump, pounce, kill small rodents, etc.) or would struggle to figure out four-legged locomotion. The character would have different senses -- perhaps a more acute sense of smell and weaker color vision -- and interact with the furnishings differently. A cat or dog would need to jump up to a bed rather than sit down on it, while a gecko might feel most comfortable hanging upside down from the ceiling. Rather that telling us about the creature, you should show us how the creature interacts with an environment.

Especially given the Kafka parallel, this assignment seems geared towards creating a creature that cannot speak or use other modes of human communication. You would then want to think about how the person would wish to attempt to communicate or not in the new form based on whatever backstory you create for the person. For example, an abused wife or daughter might delight in the new identity as an opportunity to escape a bad situation, a curious teen might enjoy being a cat, while a single mother might be frantically worried about how to take care of her child in creature form. Thus your initial interactions should not be conditioned just by the nature of the creature but also by the character of your protagonist and the protagonist's relationship with the other person. 

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First complete this sentence with appropriate names/words of your choice: "As [name of character] awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found him/herself transformed in his/her bed into a(n) [adjective] [creature]." Then ,write the first few paragraphs of a story, beginning with the above sentence, in which the character attempts to go about his/her morning activities. Take it to the point where s/he encounters another person

It sounds like you've been given a creative assignment as a response to reading Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis! The Metamorphosis is a novella which follows the transformation of Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman who morphs into a "monstrous vermin" (sometimes represented as a cockroach or beetle). Gregor struggles to deal with this change, especially since it has inspired revulsion in his family; the novella closes with his death, which at long last restores some peace and relief to the household. It is ultimately an absurd story which remarks upon the nature of estrangement and the limits of human sympathy. 

The assignment you have been given--with the direction to have a character find him or herself changed in his or her bed into an "[adjective][creature]" and to then have him/her go about her his/her daily activities  and encounter another person--absolutely mirrors the plot of The Metamorphosis. I can't complete your creative writing assignment for you, as that would involve you committing an act of plagiarism, which I'm sure your school and teacher would not be pleased with! However, I can help give you some sample ideas to get you creative juices flowing:

  • "As Montana awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, she found herself  transformed in her bed into a purple hamster." You could then explore how some of Montana's former habits--brushing her long, blonde hair one hundred strokes before bed, putting on her fuzzy slippers, sipping a cup of tea--are no longer possible. When Montana tries to go to work as a real estate agent that afternoon to sell a single story mid-century home recently placed on the market, her potential buyers leave in a huff because they don't recognize her in her new hamster form.
  • "As Cristiano awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a fat anteater." You could then follow up with the harrowing tale of how this destroys Cristiano's underwear modeling career. He no longer has an interest in drinking his morning protein shake, in attending his CrossFit session with his trainer, Julio, or in showing up on time to his 10:00 AM spray tan appointment. When Cristiano finally manages to drag himself to his photo shoot that afternoon--which was to be staged at a local park--he ends up blowing the whole thing by scarfing down the ants which have invaded the picnic basket instead of posing in his boxer briefs. 

Kafka's work is surreal and strange, and I would not hesitate to mimic those qualities in your own assignment. Get quirky or funny--the weirder, the better!

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