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Retelling the Story: Rewriting Fantasy, History, and Myth

If you take a look at Hollywood movies today, many of them are remakes of old movies or based on long-known books. The same is true in the publishing industry. It’s much easier to sell a book that’s a sequel to “Pride and Prejudice” to the multitude of Jane Austen fans than it is to sell a new romance novel, and even though most vampire novels today hui aren’t sequels to “Dracula,” they capitalize on the popularity of the vampire figure.

A writer looking for a “novel” topic might consider taking a look at popular stories, myths, legends, or events in history and creating a new story or version of it. story based on them; such a revision of an old story can be a cost-effective and easier way to gain a readership. Once you write a book that tells about what happened after the fall of Camelot or after Cinderella married the prince, provided you told the story well, you will have created an audience of readers. Then you’ll likely have an audience that largely follows you when you write your completely original novel in a world with characters that you only created without the help of another author.

Before you dismiss the idea of ​​rewriting an old story in a new way, take some time to reflect on the stories that have captured your imagination over the years and think about how you might have wished they had ended differently – How about telling the story as you would have liked it to be told or with the ending you would have preferred? Here are some examples of old stories that have been reimagined in recent years for new audiences and that might give you some ideas:

King Arthur: There is no absence in the number of novels coming out to tell the story of King Arthur and Camelot. Among the best are Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “The Mists of Avalon” (1982), which tells the story from a woman’s point of view. This novel inspired countless others that told the Arthurian legend, including Jack Whyte’s Camulod Chronicles which told the story before Camelot, many books about what happened after Camelot, and even stories of the King Arthur set in outer space. There are plenty of readers who will buy just about any book with a King Arthur connection.

Ancient myths: Marion Zimmer Bradley also capitalized on the Trojan War by telling this story from a woman’s perspective in her novel “The Firebrand.” Additionally, many books and movies have loosely adapted Greek myths, from “Clash of the Titans” to “Immortals.” Norse, Egyptian and Celtic gods are also popular and able to inspire great new novels.

Popular archetypes or characters: Vampire novels are very popular. The core elements exist in all vampire stories, and “Dracula” is the most constructed seminal work, although the writers reinvent the story by making it their own within the guidelines of key elements such as the vampire being a bloodsucker, unable to move about in daylight, unable to face a crucifix, his reflection not being seen in mirrors, and his ability to transform into a bat. Other archetypal figures to consider include mummies, mermaids, and a wide range of fairy tale characters.

Classics: As long as the copyright on a book has expired, you are free to do what you want with it. Many authors have capitalized on the classics. Some of the most popular in recent years have been “Mr. Darcy, Vampyre” and “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, two revisions of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” while mixing it with popular archetypal or mythical characters. Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked” reimagined the story of the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz,” leading to a series of novels and a hit Broadway musical. Many more “Wizard of Oz” revisionist movies and books are currently in the works.

Historical events: The story can be simple, just facts and dates, but when you think about who these people really were, what drove them, their loves, their dreams and their goals, you can create great fiction. The popularity of books like Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of the Earth” and numerous movies and TV shows like “The Tudors” have made people from centuries ago real and interesting to 21st century readers. Is there anything about Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Columbus, Napoleon or Hitler’s story that still speaks to us today? Sure; they were human like us; what motivated them, frustrated them, pushed them to do good or evil, made them dream, succeed and fail? How can you capitalize on their humanity to make an interesting story today?

How to rewrite history

The key to creating a successful story based on an already well-known story is to introduce a new twist to it. Here are some tips or questions to ask yourself to create this new version of an old story.

  1. What made the villain a villain? Is there a villain story to tell? In “Wicked,” the Wicked Witch was made sympathetic when we understood her motivation for behaving the way she did.
  2. Was the story told from the conqueror’s point of view? In “The Wizard of Oz”, Dorothy simply takes Glinda and the wizard at their word that the Wicked Witch is evil. What if the wizard and Glinda just didn’t like the witch and were lying about who she really was? How about telling the story from the perspective of the vanquished, or someone caught in the middle but not on one side or the other? How would “Alice in Wonderland” be different if the Queen of Hearts or the Mad Hatter told the story? What if “Treasure Island” was told from the perspective of Long John Silver?
  3. What if the culminating event had turned out differently? Recently, Stephen King released a time travel novel in which someone travels back in time to try to prevent the assassination of President Kennedy. What if a key event didn’t happen or happened differently? Kim Newman’s ‘Anno Dracula’ is based on the assumption that Dracula was undefeated – and the result is that he conquered England and even married Queen Victoria. Think about all the “what if” possibilities. What if the Trojans rather than the Greeks had won the war? What if the South rather than the North had won the civil war? What if Abraham Lincoln hadn’t been assassinated? What if Napoleon had succeeded in conquering the world?
  4. How to explain something magical or mythical? In “Wicked”, the winged monkeys are actually the witch’s experience where she sews their wings. What if Merlin didn’t have magical powers but was just a good scientist who knew how to trick people into thinking he had magical powers? What if the Greek gods were really humans who used trickery to take control of people? What if St. George did a stunt to look like he killed a dragon? What would any of these situations suggest about the main character or the world these people lived in? Think, for example, of the Wizard of Oz who holds everyone in awe of him, only to turn out to be a prankster. Who else in literature, myth or history could have been a prankster?
  5. What if the bad guy really was the good guy? Everyone knows that Mordred killed King Arthur, but some writers are now portraying Arthur as the villain when Mordred was only trying to protect his country. What if the stepmother wasn’t mean but Cinderella was just a spoiled little girl who was mad that her father was remarrying? What if the evil wizard was really a great teacher trying to help the hero by playing devil’s advocate?
  6. What if the storyteller was a liar – unreliable storyteller syndrome? Could the person telling the story be lying to us? David Copperfield might be an unreliable narrator, a thug even, while Uriah Heep is really a lowly hero wrongly accused of stealing Aunt Betsy’s money when in reality she was just a spendthrift. And Injun Joe, isn’t it possible that Tom Sawyer and his community are just racist?

There are many possibilities for telling a classic story and getting people to rethink and see it again. Make sure the work you choose to rewrite is not copyrighted. Anything published before 1900 should be safe.

Often, rewriting a story with a new twist or twist can be a great writing exercise that takes an already effective plot and characters and allows for the opportunity to revisit it while teaching a writer about pacing, plot, and character development. While I’m always a fan of originality in authors, telling a story in an original way like Marion Zimmer Bradley did in “The Mists of Avalon” or Gregory Maguire in “Wicked” can do more than create a great novel. It can make people rethink history, see gray areas of meaning, and stretch their imaginations in new and inspiring ways.

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