The Writing Diaries (3): On Writing a Re-Telling

Monday, February 17, 2020

This is something that I have been thinking about for a long time. There is something about re-tellings that really intrigue me. Taking a story that has existed for a very long time and re-working it in my own sounds like an interesting way to challenge myself. I re-watched North & South, the BBC mini series with Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage, I began to wonder if I could re-write this story. Could I bring this story to life now? And if so, what could I change to make it more new? On top of that, as I began to seriously consider re-telling this story, I began to wonder what I needed to do in order to tell this story right.

Choosing a story** to re-tell
Obviously the most important part of this entire project, choosing a story to re-tell is what brings the entire thing together. But is it really as easy as just picking a story and deciding to re-tell it? Since I began my process of plotting my North & South re-telling, I wondered if it was possible to re-tell any story.

Can a story be re-told too many times?
Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite stories and I would love to re-tell it in my own way but has it been done to death? In a very genuine sense, could I bring something new to another Pride and Prejudice re-telling? The main question for me becomes, "is it enough that the story is more diverse and set in modern times for it to be a good re-telling?" This would be something I keep in mind as I plan my re-telling.

What are the core aspects I need to keep in my version?
Taking a story and writing down all of the plot points, I have to consider what parts of the original story I want to keep. Pride and Prejudice is one of the most common stories re-told in all formats. It's not hard to have a character who is prejudiced and another who is prideful among other things. There's a web series and a variety of re-tellings. So the next question to ask would be:

How do I add a new spin to the story?
What can I add to a new version of a story that has been told over and over again? Is it enough to add people of color and queer people to stories that are mostly (or all) white and straight? When it comes to North & South, at least, I can be assured that there aren't all that many re-tellings of the book around. In therms of other stories, I do think that adding people of color and queer people changes the story.

Now that I have all of the steps to begin my process of re-writing a story, I'm going to take my time getting it all done. Am I taking all of this too seriously? Probably. Am I going to try this process anyways? Yes, yes I am.

**Myths, folklores, and stories in the public domain are the ones that I'm talking about. Obviously I wouldn't take stories from copyrighted works.

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