Mirror, Mirror: Taking a familiar story and making it new
Blogger: Rachel Kent
Last night I watched “Snow White and the Huntsman” the recent release with Kristen Stuart as Snow White. A few months ago I watched “Mirror, Mirror” with Julia Roberts as the evil queen. Both movies are Snow White stories but they were so different from each other. My personal preference is “Snow White and the Huntsman.” “Mirror, Mirror” was too goofy for me. If you’ve seen them, please post your opinions below!
It’s said that there is nothing new under the sun and that all story ideas have been written before. This is especially true with classic stories like fairy tales, yet there’s something in the classic stories that appeals to readers no matter how many times they’ve heard the story before. As a writer, the trick is putting your own spin on it. What tricks are used to make a familiar story unique? Here are some that I’ve seen:
1) Change the setting for the story. Taking a story and moving it to a completely different location can make a story new.
2) Add a modern day character into the story. Time travel can be overdone, but I’ve seen this done successfully a few times.
3) Make the story a modern retelling. The YA book Beastly by Alex Flinn comes to mind. It is a 21st century retelling of Beauty and the Beast. (I suggest you DON’T watch the movie. It was really bad.)
4) Give the story a 1st person narrator. This adds more personality to a character allowing the writer to use his or her imagination to shape the character significantly.
5) Add or eliminate an element like magic or technology. A recent retelling of Cinderella is a good example. In the book Cinder by Marissa Meyer, the main Cinderella character is a cyborg and lives in a world full of humans and androids. While this sounds strange, this book has done really well in the YA market.
6) Write a story that only hints at the classic tale. Using the basic structure of the classic story an author can do quite a bit of imagining and creating. The book East by Edith Pattou does this. It uses the fairy tale element of having a character who has been cursed to be an animal by day and is human by night and to be freed he must find love–similar to The Swan Princess and Beauty and the Beast but it doesn’t follow either tale exactly.
Do you have any other tricks to list that you’ve either used while writing or that you’ve seen used in books or movies?
Have you read any good fairy tale retellings? Please share them here.
I’m looking forward to Melanie Dickerson’s THE FAIREST BEAUTY. It releases in December. Isn’t the cover beautiful?!