Seriously guys, this woman just won't leave me alone!
:b Just kidding :b
Told it right the first time? Tell me again!
If you take enough writing classes, you’ll eventually sit through the one where the teacher claims there are only seven types of stories. Or 20. Or 35. It’s like Glamour magazine – sometimes there are 7 minutes to perfect abs and sometimes it takes 8 minutes.
Point is: almost all books, at their hearts, are retellings. (And your abs will never be perfect.)
Not just books are big on retellings – movies and television, too. Pride & Prejudice has a half-dozen incarnations – not that I’m complaining. 80’s sci-fi film Total Recall, itself a screen adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel, is getting a film reboot this year. Even television series 21 Jumpstreet just hit the big screen with a big dose of tongue-in-cheek and a wink at the audience about the original series’ campiness. One of my favorite shows on television, Revenge, is a Count of Monte Cristo retelling.
Books, television and movies aren’t the only retelling tools. Check out Broadway. One of the most successful musicals of all time, Wicked, is based on the Gregory Maguire retelling of The Wizard of Oz which was a children’s book that already had its fair share of movies, sequels and film spin-offs.
If you poll the average crowd, they might agree that certain books and movies are sacred and should never be redone because they couldn’t possibly be improved – but I think that’s missing the point.
Retellings aren’t necessarily improvements. Retellings are personalizations. To some degree, every time you read a story, you are telling it in your own mind. You’re drawing from your own history when you interpret a character’s actions. You’re simmering on your own issues as you interpret whether a character is sympathetic.
That’s why I fully advocate for the following retellings:
(3) To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Let’s just get the most controversial pick out of the way, shall we? No no, go ahead. Throw a few eggs at me. I’ll wait….
Okay – here’s my pitch: yes, I know. This book is perfect. Nostalgic. Iconic. Wouldn’t then even a piss-poor retelling of To Kill A Mockingbird be better than 99% of other books? Maybe a version that trades racial inequality in the south for another inequity. Maybe a version where Jem is a little older. Maybe a version where I’m married to Gregory Peck…I mean…moving on…
(2) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
I’m talking specifically about a rewrite that gives Eponine the spotlight she deserves. Spoiler alert: this spoiled daughter of two villains pines for her beloved as he chooses her pure-as-the-driven-snow nemesis even as Eponine gives her life to save him and the greater cause of the French Revolution. I’d love to see a retelling of Les Mis where being pure and ladylike comes in second to gumption and guts.
(1) Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Only this time, Fight Club is all girls. And the first rule of fight club is that we’d totally sit around and talk about Fight Club because hot dang, we were on fire last night getting our boxing on. And rule number two would be, of course, fight all you want but steer free of the moneymaker (aka, our faces.)
If you can’t get on board for these retellings, then maybe you’ll be open to my Pride & Prejudice retelling, FALL FOR YOU, about a modern-day Elizabeth in the form of Lizzie, a driven reporter at an all-girl’s boarding school that has just been open to boys (oh dear!) – and one boy in particular is about to make her life very, very difficult.
My level of Gray-doration just shot up to about 220%
Just thought you'd like to know.
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