They say there are no original stories, they’ve all been told. What’s a writer to do then? That’s easy. Take a familiar story and change it up, twist it around until it is totally different and unique again. That seems to be the trend right now in books and movies.

Hook

Hook

This weekend I watched Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and Warm Bodies. I review the movies on my blog. H&G isn’t so much a twist on the familiar fairy tale as it is a continuation. It answers the question of what these poor children did after they killed the witch. They became witch hunters, of course. Another continuation story I love is Hook, although that story could also fall under the What If category. What if Peter Pan grew up? Robin Williams is excellent as the grown-up Peter Panning, by the way.

Fairy tales are perfect stories for adjusting because almost everyone already knows the original tales. The characters are familiar and the plots ingrained in our memories, thanks in part to Disney. Changing the setting, or genre, or point of view of the original makes the same old fairy tale new and exciting again. Sometimes the author and/or director can make the adaptation work, such as Red Riding Hood, and sometimes it bombs, like in Beastly. I liked him so much better as the Beast.

220px-10_Things_I_Hate_About_You_filmOne of the most retold plots isn’t a fairy tale, really. Romeo and Juliet has been a big redone a million times (not an exact figure), because it works. One of my favorites is West Side Story. I still cry whenever I hear the song Somewhere. And the latest version is Warm Bodies. I absolutely loved the zombie aspect, very timely. Shakespeare’s work has been modernized to great success. I will never tire of watching 10 Things I Hate About You. The Taming of the Shrew was brilliant originally but the modern twist made it more relatable to today’s audiences—and freakin’ hilarious!

I don’t know about you, but every time I leave a movie theater of finish a book, I always ponder how I would write it differently, how I would change it to be my own. So don’t worry about writing a story no one’s ever read before because that ain’t gonna happen. But you can find a way to freshen up an old classic. Find a plot hole in your favorite story and plug it up with your own vision. Ask what if? Put the characters in a totally different world and see what happens. Swap the good guys and bad guys. What if  Cinderella wasn’t as sweet and innocent as we’ve been lead to believe? Maybe Robin Hood only stole to cover his gambling debts? Who knows? The possibilities are endless.

What are your favorite twisted-up classics?

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Comments
  1. Matthew Ridenour says:

    Right you are. What are we but the sum of our experiences? Look and study what’s been done, then add your flavor and creativity to it. You might find something more original than ever you’d anticipated.

  2. I definitely do that with stories…a lot of my inspiration comes from other stories, which sounds like plagiarism–but isn’t! As I heard someone (I think Patricia C. Wrede) say, you take something from another story, add and expand and explore, discard that original part and just use what you added. Or something like that (I think she was more eloquent!)

    Or in the case of retelling old stories, it’s such fun deciding which parts to keep or change or muddle up!

  3. kkline922 says:

    No story is beyond Good vs. Evil, Love, Death, or the Self.

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