Friday, July 6, 2012

What do you think of books that are retellings of or inspired by classics?

Great movie, you must watch it.

I told you guys recently that I came up with a new story idea that has me giddy with excitement. What is the idea? I can’t say yet, I don’t want to jinx it. But, as you can tell from the title of this post, it is inspired by another story that has already been told.

As of the moment I’m writing this post, I have just started reading For Darkness Shows The Stars by Diana Peterfreund, which was inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion (one of my favorites as far as the story goes, and the movie, see picture above). Other than this one, I don’t think I’ve read many books that retell classic tales. The only other one that comes to mind is Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey. Of course, there’s also several movies I’ve seen that are supposed to be just like a classic story (fairy tale or even Shakespearean). Other than that, I’m in the dark as far as a retelling goes.

I’ve been doing some brainstorming on the idea. Thinking about the different directions I could take the story, like whether I want to make it modern or futuristic. If I make it futuristic, will it be just somewhat science fiction or an all out dystopian universe?

Also, trying to work out the details of the story itself. Like, how close should it or can it be to the original? And by how close, I mean, how many scenes/ secondary characters can I replicate in some way? Is there a certain point you’re allowed to go to without making it a complete duplication of the original? Because there are a lot of aspects to the story I want to retell that I absolutely adore, but I’m in a quandary as to which ones should be left on the cutting room floor.

I probably won’t be able to get this one going for at least a year. There’s a lot to work out as far as the plot itself goes, not to mention the setting. I would like to take more time looking into the original too. And it will give me plenty of time to read a few inspired by/retellings in the meantime to see how it is done.
 
But… I still want some opinions from my followers…

What do you think of retellings?
Have you read any?
Have you written any?
How close is it to the original?
Is it just slightly inspired or heavily inspired?

Thank you in advance for the thoughts and suggestions!

11 comments:

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  2. I love retellings of stories, especially anything Shakespearean. My favorites are when an author can take a story, and leave all the basic elements essentially the same, such as characters and plot-line, but throw in some insane or completely unexpected factor, such as set in a dystopian society, ect, and still make the story totally phenomenal. The biggest thing is to keep the characters true to themselves. If they're not, then the story isn't really a retelling in my opinion.

    Good luck with your story!

    -Ashley
    What's Your Story?

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    1. I think you're exactly right on the characters staying true. I'll have to make sure I at least keep the characters in line with the original. Thank you! :D

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  3. I love retellings, too, although I generally don't like to read them before I read the original story. I prefer retellings of fairytales or Shakespeare than those of classic novels, though. Fairytales are so short that a novel retelling can flesh out the story and the characters, and because Shakespeare wrote plays, I enjoy being able to read some narration/prose.

    However, I think some retellings are overdone. While I love Pride and Prejudice, I think it's been retold to death. It's hard to say what makes the best retelling. I definitely don't like it when it feels 'by numbers' - that the author is just going through the plot points of the original. I think the author has to explore the main theme or idea of the original in a new setting.

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    1. Same here, if I'm not at least familiar with the original, I probably won't read the retelling. I think that's why so many people retell Jane Austen stories... You're so right about Pride and Prejudice though. It's a good story and all (not my favorite or anything), but it is SOOO overdone. You make a good point about it not being written by numbers. I like the way you put that. I'm gonna keep that in mind! :D

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  4. Argh! You know when you're so excited to comment that you can't type fast enough...yeah.

    So Melissa from One Librarian's Book Review is doing a challenge this year that you might want to check out. She's having people read classics or "original" stories and their retelling's. I'm going to read The Scarlet Letter and When She Woke. I'm excited. Anywho, there's tons of retellings out there and I think it's tricky getting them right. It drives me nuts when a retelling is too similar to the original. Some people like it but it bothers me. If I'm reading a retelling it was because I loved the original and want another take on it with a few similarities. If it's too similar I might as well read the original again, you know?

    Anywho, I'm excited to see what you come up with. Good luck.

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    1. Hehehe! Thank you Jenny! I remember seeing that challenge, if I hadn't already had too many going on, I would have signed up for it myself. :) But, you're right... if it's too close, it might be annoying, but when it's close, it's familiar and people love that. I think the new takes on it make them so much better... I just really need to read more of them! ;)

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  5. I think there's sort of a fine line an author would need to straddle in situations like this. Like for example, CINDER by Marissa Meyer was a great Cinderella re-telling, where she borrowed from the original story, but switched it up. Re-tellings don't bother me too much as long as the author still infuses the story with their OWN flair and doesn't just copy-cat from the original story. That said, I don't think I could write a re-imagining and actually market it to be published. I'd want to do my own thing!

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    1. I was always in a debate over whether I would enjoy Cinder or not, but I do hear a lot of good things about it, and could do well to research through that. :) It is a fine line, that's why I'm so curious. It's strange--I never thought I would want to do a retelling, and, this one idea will probably be the only one I'll do. I usually like my own original ideas best. :P

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  6. I really like "jane" by April Linder (a retelling of Jane Eyre) and "Cinder" by Marissa Meyer. I also adore Robin McKinley's retellings of Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty.

    I really enjoy retellings--mostly because I love seeing how the author takes a story and makes it her own.

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    1. I'll have to check those out sometime. I'm enjoying the one I'm reading right now, so I hope I can get to some more and see how authors do it! :)

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