Friday, September 30, 2016

Retellings: What Are They?

With my next major writing project (the top-secret NaNoWriMo project I refuse to talk about) being a YA Fantasy / Fairy Tale Retelling, and the sub-genre being more popular than ever I've been asked: What is a retelling? How can an author take something that's already published and write about it again? Isn't that plagiarism? The simple answer is no

What is a retelling of a story?
A story retelling is when an author takes a preexisting story (whether a fairy tale or a classic story) and updates it, changes it, gives the story a new twist. 

For example: Romeo & Juliet. What if Romeo and Juliet were from two different warring planets? Or what if Romeo were an alien and Juliet was a human? What if they hated each other? 

Why isn't that plagiarism? 
Well, because though the characters are named the same and the basic format of the story (lovesick boy meets girl, they fall in love, their families hate each other, they both die [or maybe not]) may be the same, it's no longer Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. The setting is different, the timeline is different, the genre is different, hey maybe they don't even die at the end! That's what makes it a retelling. A retelling is a completely new version of an old classic. 

What sorts of stories have been used for retellings?
Lately every time you look there's a new retelling hitting the shelves. Lots of stories from Romeo & Juliet to Pride & Prejudice to fairy tales like Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Beauty and the Beast have been used as inspiration for story retellings. 

In fact, I just read an ARC for a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera and another book I saw on Netgalley is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Retellings are becoming the new "big thing" in YA fiction. 

Does That Mean Authors Are Getting Lazy & Don't Have Any Original Thoughts?
Absolutely not! No my dear readers, that's what's happening to Hollywood and the film industry! But I digress... back to the original point. If you had a cool idea to spruce up or take something old and beloved and make it newer, fresher, and even better wouldn't you pursue it? 

That's kind of what a story retelling is like. We all love "this story" but what if secretly that story didn't go like that at all? What if it really went more like this... That's another way to bring about a story retelling. As an author you may create a character that you felt got "wronged" in the original. Let's say they were cast as the villain. Aren't all villains just misunderstood heroes that's dreams were crushed? What were they like before they became the villains every one knows them to be? It makes you think, doesn't it?

What Are Some Story Retellings I Might Like?
A lot of story retellings come into the YA Paranormal or Fantasy genres so here are a few story retellings you might like...
*Note: Each of these books are part of a duology, trilogy, or series, so for this blog's purpose I'm showing you the first book in the sequence. 

1. Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Release Date: August 9, 2011
Retelling of: Romeo & Juliet
Tagline: The greatest love story ever told is a lie.

2. Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: September 1, 2013
Retelling of: Alice in Wonderland

3. The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Genre: YA Mythology / Fantasy / Paranormal Romance
Release Date: May 1, 2011
Retelling of: The Persephone Myth
4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer:
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Retelling of: Cinderella

5. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas:
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Retelling of: Beauty and the Beast
6. The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Retelling of: The Singing Bone by the Brothers Grimm
7. The Hollow by Jessica Verday:
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Release Date: August 3, 2010
Retelling of: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

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Do you like story retellings? What's your favorite retelling?

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