Saturday, May 6, 2017

Retellings - Love 'Em or Hate 'Em?

With my mind on The Brightest Thread, I've been pondering retellings lately, retellings of all sorts and all formats. Books. Movies. Fairytale retellings. Superhero reboots. Book-to-screen adaptions. We've been seeing an influx of all of them--and perhaps a decline in original ideas, but that's another topic for another time.

What I want to talk about today is the vast spectrum of responses these retellings get from people. One retold fairytale or rebooted movie from the 90's might be adored, loathed, criticized, apathetically ignored, or anything and everything in between. Now, of course any work of art, original or retold, will elicit a variety of responses, but it seems that people become rather vocal when it comes to retellings.

Why is that?

I propose it's because of people's deep emotional attachment to the original story.

Take Beauty and the Beast, for instance. (And we'll remove the LeFou issue from the equation for the moment, so we can focus on the bare bones of a retelling without whatever social agendas a director might shoehorn into a story.) Some people loved it. Some people strongly disliked it. Others feel conflicted, because they liked some parts and not others.

Maybe the big deal is because a lot of the people who went to see the movie love the original tale of Beauty and the Beast--either the animated Disney movie or the Grimm fairytale or perhaps both.

Let's take a look at an imaginary person for a moment. We'll call her Jane. Jane grew up with a big fat book of fairytales, a book whose pages she wore ragged with use. She grew up watching B&B and sang "Tale as Old as Time" often enough to drive her brother mad. She's eighteen now, and when she saw the preview for the new movie, she was ecstatic. Getting to see her favorite story brought to new life with modern special effects and great actors? Of course she's thrilled!

On opening night, she settles into the theater folding chair, bucket of popcorn in hand, and her breath catches as the first scene starts.

Two hours and nineteen minutes later, Jane staggers out of the theater with her mind whirling.

Now, this could go many ways. She could be euphoric over the magical adaptation, the perfect songs, the many little nods to the original Disney film, the new twists.

Or she could feel angry and betrayed because of how, in her mind, the heart of the original was lost.

Or she could feel anything in between! But chances are good that she's going to feel something, and it's probably going to be a strong something. Because Beauty and the Beast is her favorite, and she wants the retelling to do it justice.

This goes for any adaption on the screen or on the page, and it's an interesting topic to explore whether you're the consumer or the creator.

I think of the plethora of superhero films. They reimagine the comic books. And some of them reimagine the first reimaginings of the comic books. I mean, we've had three different Spider-Mans in the last fifteen years. If you like superhero movies, you probably have a favorite rendition, right? Even if you never read the comics (I never have), you have a certain expectation of who Spider-Man should be, and you'll judge the movies accordingly. Nothing wrong with that; it's just how it is.

Or what about the Narnia movies? I adore them, even when they strayed from the books. And I adore the books too, just in a different way. That's another complexity in this world of retellings! Some people are weird enough to separate the art forms, and they love different takes on a story. I don't think of the Narnia movies the same way as I think about the books. I love them both for different reasons, and I'm on pins and needles waiting for more news on The Silver Chair. (Not to mention very sad that there's no chance Will Poulter will get to reprise his role as Eustace.)

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I'm writing a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, so I'm growing increasingly interested in what people generally expect of a fairytale retelling. How faithful do they want it to be? How many twists do they want? How fundamental can the twists be? Gender swaps? Role reversals? Genre bending? How many different ways can you interpret the heart of the original story? What is the heart? What do you highlight? What do you downplay? Is the original story a concrete framework, or is it a set of loose guidelines to play with as you please?

Stray too far, and you'll upset someone. Stick too close, and you'll still upset someone. Because Sleeping Beauty matters to this audience, otherwise they wouldn't pick up a book based on it.

I've already come to terms with the fact that I can't please everyone, so I'm not even going to try. But still, it's worth figuring out what expectations your audience might have when they crack open your book.

I don't know where I'm going with this post, really . . . I was just puzzling over why people react strongly to retellings, and I think I stumbled over one key reason. What do you guys think?

And when it comes to fairytales, what's your perfect mix of ingredients? Do you like them to stick close to the original one, or do you like a wild ride of twists and turns? Tell me your thoughts on retellings/reboots in general, too! Let's discuss them allll!


  1. THIS POST! I relate to a lot of this. :D I've also been thinking about these things too! And yes, it IS complicated... I also feel differently about fairytales, movies, adaptions, etc.

    I adore retellings of fairytales, but I can also get twitchy if they change it a way I don't like. I'm kind of annoyed that there are NO new ideas and everything's reboots these days. XD But yes, topic for another day... My favorite fairytale is Twelve Dancing Princesses, so I love finding retellings of it! But I also have higher expectations for them (particularly since I'm writing one myself), and so sometimes I find myself disappointed for no clear reason... just there's something off and I'm picky and can't figure out what it is. (Lauri and I were talking about this last week.) B&B is also a favorite fairytale of mine, BUT I didn't grow up on the Disney cartoon, so I'm not attached to THAT version, and therefore I'd rather if retellings were more like the original and less like Disney's... but people are attached to that and know it better and like it, so... *shrug* Haven't seen the new movie yet, so I can't compare, but it does seem to me somewhat of a waste to do a live-action B&B with so much awesome potential, and then just waste it on doing a near-copy version of the cartoon?? Like... THINK OF THE WASTE. Ahem. But that's just ME thinking that the Disney version isn't the best, because I only "met" it a few years ago so it's not my nostalgic childhood. XD And that got long and rambly and I don't even know what I was trying to say... I guess my point is: YES, everyone has different expectations and likes/dislikes, and stories that are near to peoples' hearts are especially subject to this kind of thing.

    As for how close to stick to the originals... that's also tricky! I sometimes like ones that are WAY different, and other times really enjoy when they stick quite close. I do like to have a little bit of changing-things-up and a twist of some kind just to keep me surprised, but I'm not as set on it being SUPER different as a lot of people are... And there are times when people take it TOO far, especially if they make a not-happy ending, or make a good character into the villain or something like that, which is changing the core principles and kind of annoys me. >.> *cough* But it's a very fine line, and again, that's just me. XD

    I view movie adaptions as ADAPTIONS, not retellings, and therefore get pretty mad when they "mess up" the book versions I liked. Maybe that's smallminded, but it is what it is. XD For instance, I personally did not like the new Narnia movies and thought they were very untrue to the heart of Narnia and very Hollywoodized, and especially loathed VDT, buuut that's for another day. XD But I do like the LOTR movies... except for a few unforgivable things (like Faramir being bad and Frodo sending Sam away etc.), but for the most part they were pretty good. :) Then again, the Howl's Moving Castle movie is TOTALLY different than the book, and I like the book better, BUT I absolutely love both the book and movie in different ways and just think of them as different stories, so I can see what you mean about the Narnias. :) And there are a few movies (gasp!) that I liked better than the books (The Princess Bride, A Muppet Christmas Carol, Treasure Island, to name a few). So... it's just a very tricky and individual thing.

    WOW, I basically wrote a post of my own. O_O Sorry! Just had a lot on my mind on this subject, even if it wasn't very conclusive, and was mostly rambling all over the place. XD

    Thanks for bringing up this subject--I quite enjoyed your post! And I hope your writing of TBT and all its retelling-ishness goes well! :)

    *long Celti is long*

    1. I love how you've been pondering the same thing! *braintwins* It IS such a complicated thing. I mean, even I'm not consistent when it comes to whether I'll like a retelling or not--and then you throw in EVERYONE'S individual tastes and the possibility of finding a formula drops to zero. XD

      I sympathize with the no new ideas thing, but yes, we'll restrain ourselves because there's plenty to talk about on THIS topic. ;)
      You hit on something I didn't get around to saying outright: that our love for an original tale leads us to have higher expectations of any retellings! Thanks for bringing that up! And yes, sometimes something just doesn't sit right, for whatever reason.
      Haha, that's the other thing...most people think of the Disney movies as "originals" when they're really just retellings. It would be pretty interesting to see more movies adapt the first versions of fairytales rather than adapting adaptions... Hmmm... (Also rather dark, I'd wager.)
      That's an interesting perspective on the new B&B movie! I kind of loved that it was like the animated movie translated into live action, BUT I can still see where you're coming from too. You're saying you would've appreciated a bigger twist to make a reboot worth its while? *nods* I can see that.

      SEE WHAT I MEAN. None of us are consistent! Not that it's a bad thing, it's just a funny/tricky thing. XD I think I'm okay with characters changing from good to bad, or vice versa, as long as the heart of the story remains. Like B&B needs to have something in it about seeing the beauty within something ugly, if that makes sense. I'd be okay with a good Beast and a not-so-good Belle if the message remained similar to the original. But yes, a few surprises are a good thing. :)

      Ahhh, I guess there IS a difference between an adaption and a retelling. I totally get that--although I'm an odd human bean who sometimes gets mad when an adaption gets it wrong and sometimes doesn't mind?? #confusing It's true, the Narnia movies were very different than the heart of the books, and I would ADORE it if the new movies regained some of that heart...but that could be asking for too much. XD I guess I see the movies and the books as two separate things, and that might be because I read the books as a wee youngster and didn't pick them up again for years, then watched the movies as a tween/young teenager, and finally reread the books just recently. So they're kind of separate to me in a lot of ways, like you said about HMC. I've never watched that movie before, but I hear a lot of people like it! But ugh, yes, so tricky...

      No no, I loved your comment! This is exactly the sort of discussion I was hoping for. ^_^ Thank you, dearie!

      *Tracey is long too*

  2. Hmm. Good post! I'm kind of in the middle of this debate. I think if a fairy re-telling is done well it can be epic! I actually really, really, really loved the new B&B, my only complaint is that they skipped two of my favorite scenes from the origanol.

    1. When Gaston takes Bell's books and asks her how she can like it when there's no pictures.

    2. The iconic scene when Bell asks her father if he thinks her odd and he pops up from under the table wearing strange looking glasses and asks in a confused voice; "My daughter? Odd?"

    Other than that perfect. I loved how they made Gaston so perfectly evil.

    1. Thank you! I agree, retellings can be AWESOME...or they can fall flat.

      Aww, you're right, they didn't include those. I guess it's been so long since I saw the animated movie, I didn't realize what *wasn't* there. But I did recognize a lot of what they did take from the animated one. Yes, Gaston was great! I mean bad--but great too! XD

      Thanks for popping by, Gray! ^_^

  3. I rather love this post! It's so true that people have strong feelings about remakes because they're already invested in the original. It's like when you get a new car. Perhaps it's the same exact type as your old car (probably not but for sake of analogy say it is), but it's still going to have it's own quirks and differences. Maybe you have to slam the door extra hard or turn the key a certain way; maybe it's a different color or maybe it's so different that it's made in a different year. No matter how similar or not to the old one, you still can't help but compare the two and miss the old one at some point. Someone could get upset because they think it's replacing their old car (or the original story). To me, it's not really taking the place of the old one, but instead it's another car just with the same structure and design (plot/characters) but re-imagined a little or given a different personality. I can see why some people don't like retellings, but I love, love seeing different takes on the same story. I like comparing and contrasting.

    I mean, I love Sherlock, so I kind of have to appreciate different takes on the same thing. XD Everyone has a different Sherlock. I love analyzing the differences. That's half the fun of being a Sherlockian! It's always weird to me when people get upset when he's not the Sherlock of Conan Doyle's canon because the only Sherlock whose like canon Sherlock IS Conan Doyle's Sherlock. Although some are very similar, they are all still different. And I love that!

    I like that you mentioned Spider-Man (one of my fav superheroes). I did have a pigheaded moment when I refused to watch Holland's Spider-Man because I love Garfield's so much. But of course, I was being an idiot. I like what they've all done to the character for different reasons (mostly just the last two though. . .). Still haven't read the comics either though.

    Anyhow, I hope your retelling goes well! Awesome post!

    1. That is a brilliant analogy! Comparisons are inevitable (and are often intentional--I'm pretty sure 99.9999% of authors writing a retelling are aware they're doing so XD) but it's a RETELLING. IT'S NOT THE EXACT SAME STORY. I love how you said that it's not taking the place of the old one, it's just a slightly reimagined version. I love them too, most of the time! It's so much fun picking out the little hints and nods to the original woven into the story.

      Very good point again. Everyone who takes a certain story or character will be adding their own voice and flavor to it, and that's a good thing!

      (Yay, Spidey!) Andrew Garfield was an awesome Spider-Man, although I understand some Maguire fans' complaints that he wasn't "nerdy enough." MY personal (small) complaint was that he looked much too old to be a senior in high school. Tom Holland at least looks like the right age. XD And he was great in Civil War! But I was heartbroken when it was announced that Garfield was done with the role and there wouldn't be a third movie. With that kind of ending, too!! D:

      Thanks so much, Ashley!

  4. This is quite an interesting topic! :D

    I personally really like retellings. I like the idea of taking something well-known and loved, and then turning it on its head. I have many ideas for fairytale retellings (even a whole trilogy centered around the idea of fairytales not being as they seem!), and I can say unashamedly that I am in love with them. XD

    However, inaccuracies can bother me. Some do and some don't and it's usually a catch or miss. My brain is confusing. XD

    Thanks for this thought-provoking post, Tracey! Loved it! ^_^

    1. Me too! It's so fun having the basic storyline already decided, but then having the chance to play around with the ingredients. It's a challenge, but an engaging one. Ooooh, your trilogy sounds completely EPIC!

      I know, right? I guess it's a matter of how important a certain element is to me, and that will determine how much I mind inaccuracies about it.

      I'm glad! Thanks for weighing in! ^_^

  5. ( comment got so long it won't let me post it, so I'm posting in two parts. Sowwy. :x)

    OKAY BUT THIS POST, TRACEY. If there was ever a Christine post, THIS IS IT. I clicked on your blog so fast when I saw this on my dashboard because RETELLING DISCUSSION. GIMME. And a retelling discussion by my own Tracey, which makes it just 340394% better! :D I JUST LOVED THIS POST SO VERY MUCH.

    I'm prettyyyy sure you're aware that retellings are basically my favorite things on the planet annnnd I have very strong opinions toward them. *cough, cough, COUGH* I actually felt like I WAS the Jane example you put up there. XDDD

    For me, it depends on WHAT is being retold, and possibly HOW. With fairytales, I don't care 2 cents if it follows the original tale. I mean, most "original" fairytales or just renditions or OTHER "original" fairytales. Such as there's basically 239843 versions of the tale of Cinderella. Hans Christian Andersen and the Grimm brothers weren't the only fairytale makers, you know? I think most of the Grimm fairytales are just tales from a bunch of people that were collected, shortened, and put into a collection. There are just no rules as to how each fairytale is to be told, in my humble opinion. Besides, they're all so lacking in great detail anyway, they can all pretty much be interpreted in 100 different ways. So with old fairytales, I say DO WHATEVER YOU WANT. Go crazy! Change them up. Get creative. What I personally like in a fairytale retelling is something fresh and new, but with nods to the original tale. It's exciting to see how the author got ideas from the original story, while still making something completely new. (Such as Thorne's ship in The Lunar Chronicles is called the Rampion, and in the original Rapunzel story, there's a plant called the rampion plant. I just get SO excited when I see little nods like that to the original tale.) Long story short: I love fairytale retellings in ANY form or fashion! I love them when they're wildly different from the original tale (such as The Lunar Chronicles), and I love when they stick close to the tale. I JUST LOVE FAIRYTALE RETELLINGS. Period.

  6. (Pt. 2)

    Now. With OTHER things is when I become grumpy cat. XD Such as the Narnia movies. I loved LWW because it stayed quite close to the book. But then Prince Caspian came out and I wanted to stab the movie theater screen for the atrocities I was witnessing. Ahem. I just DON'T think it's okay for these big Hollywood movie directors to be so uppity they think they can do a better job then the author did. AUTHORS WORK RIDICULOUSLY HARD ON THEIR STORIES. I understand if some changes need to be made, because certain aspects can work in a book but not on the screen. I get that. But just totally disregarding the original characters and throwing away the plot? NO. NOT OKAY. Please don't disrespect the original book, people. It makes me upset. NOW, if you're making like a continuation story, and respect the original book enough to keep the characters/world/what-have-you true to how the original author made them, I'm fine with that. Just don't change the events of the ACTUAL BOOK.

    I think it all comes down to respecting the original author. (Which I actually ranted about in a post a couple of years ago:

    BUT MY WORD. THIS IS BECOMING A MONSTER. You should know I'm gonna talk till the end of time when you even MENTION retellings. :P

    To sum allll this up: I'm PERFECTLY fine with changing fairytales as much as one wants. But if it's anything else (like Narnia or LotR or something), I get upset when they're wildly changed up because it feels like disrespect to the author. (Although, one exception, is Alice in Wonderland. I feel the way about it the same as I do with fairytales. I think that story is SUPPOSED to be interpreted differently, and it's suuuuch a broad, crazy world where literally ANYTHING can happen. I don't think Lewis Carroll would mind one bit people interpreting that world in different ways. I suspect that's what he wanted. And I say all this because I LOOOOOOVE Wonderland retellings, and totally intend to write on myself one day. *grins*)


    1. I laughed out loud when I saw how your comment had to be split up. It's so...YOU. Christine + fairytales = MANY WORDS, and I love that! Okay. I'll try to reply to the whole thing!

      Jane is a real person, yay! XD Okay but for real, especially for those of us who LOVE retellings and fairytales and the whole nine yards, a new one *matters* to us. A lot.

      Original fairytales don't really exist, they're all retellings or combined bits of other stories. THAT IS AN EXTREMELY GOOD POINT THAT I NEGLECTED TO MENTION, SO THANK YOU FOR BRINGING IT UP.
      And definitely, the lack of detail makes them so wonderful to play with. They hardly get into any sort of worldbuilding or real character motivation so that pretty much equals play time for an author! (That Rampion thing got me so excited when I heard about it too! The Lunar Chronicles kind of drifted a bit from the fairytales by the end of the series, I felt, but I was so caught up in the characters and plot I didn't care. However, there still were those little details like the Rampion's name that were just...ah, perfection. <3)

      The director's/author's attitude is HUGE, I agree. You can usually tell if they've made changes because they were necessary, or because they felt the original story needed some "spicing up" or some such thing. It's like authors who start their retellings by saying, "You all think you know the story of _____. But I'm here to tell you so-and-so got it wrong." Um, no they didn't?? It was THEIR story to begin with! I'm all for making improvements when retelling (because there's no such thing as a perfect story), but there's no need to slam the original author in the process.
      As for Narnia in particular, I mentioned my weird dichotomy of thoughts on that in my reply to Celti, so I won't repeat myself. :P But I totally agree about continuations: those are cool!

      Oh yes, I remember that post! Now I need to go reread it... :D


      That makes sense! You like changing fairytales because there's so many missing pieces anyway, but when it comes to changing an already-complete story, they'd better be necessary, respectful changes. Right? Right. *nods* (Oh, oh, oh, Alice in Wonderland makes for FANTABULOUS retellings, for precisely the reasons you mentioned! I cannot wait for you to retell it someday!!!!)

  7. I agree with what Christine said above... *scrolls up through epic monster comment* ..."something fresh and new, but with nods to the original tale". That's what I like. If it's too much like the original, I can't spend my valuable time reading that! (Well, I do, but that's beside the point.) I want a story with a new perspective, a new spin, but with enough bits of the original that I can recognise it! xP

    Excellent post, Tracey! (and I loved your examples. Narnia - yasss!) (Although Spiderman - I haven't watched... any... *trails off and hides* *like a properly ashamed baby geekling*)

    Jem Jones

    1. I'm the same way--make it new, but not unrecognizable. Right, who wants to read the exact same story rehashed? Have you read any of the fairytale collections published by Rooglewood Press? (Five Glass Slippers = five novellas retelling Cinderella//Five Enchanted Roses = Beauty and the Beast//Five Magic Spindles = Sleeping Beauty) I think you'd enjoy them! I have read FMS yet, but the first two collections had such a wide variety of genres and approaches, but they all connect nicely to the original fairytale.

      Thank you! "Like a properly ashamed baby geekling," LOL! No reason to be ashamed. (But seriously, go watch them. Whichever series--there's something to love about all of them. Okay, well, I obviously haven't seen Tom Holland in anything but Civil War yet, but still.)

  8. So I clicked on the comments fully intending to leave a monster of my own, but Deborah and Christine said everything already. . .

    1. Haha, thanks for leaving a comment anyway! ^_^ And I seriously don't mind a comment repeating what someone else already said. Everyone puts it into different words!

  9. "I've already come to terms with the fact that I can't please everyone, so I'm not even going to try." True. Each story is made up of so many elements, and each person has a favourite element, and so a different idea of what makes the story perfect.

    Personally, I love it when the genre is different from the fairy tale, but there are clever little references to the original slipped in.

    1. Exactly! One person might love Cinderella's impoverished background, while another loves the glass slipper, and still another is attached to the mice in the Disney animated movie. I guess that's what makes it possible to retell the same fairytale so many times.

      Yes, me too! Have you read The Lunar Chronicles, by any chance? Sci-fi isn't your typical fairytale genre. :)

  10. Wonderful post, Tracey! I like that phrase "the heart of the original." Whenever I'm critiquing a movie adaption of a book, I talk a lot about "the feel," but "heart" is even better. :)

    As a little girl, I used to get fed up with retellings (especially the picture-book type) because there were SO MANY of them you couldn't find the original. I was a teenager before I pieced together the "real" Rapunzel story. BUT now I realize that if I want to find the original all I have to do is google it...

    And a well-done retelling is a jewel indeed. :)

    1. Thank you, Lucy! I think both "the feel" and "the heart" go hand and hand. A feel is kind of more of a aesthetic thing, to me anyways. And the heart has more to do with the themes or underlying message of a story. But I'm glad to have inadvertently helped with your movie reviews! :)

      I sometimes worry that today's children think the Disney movies are the originals. o.o XD Come to think of it, I don't know if I've ever read the full, real Rapunzel story! I MUST FIX THAT.

      It is! Do you have any favorites?

  11. Nostalgia is definitely a factor and a lot of the movies remade were originally done when the cinema couldn't do them justice in visual effects I've noticed. One of my favorites is the Jungle Book, because I've always liked the story but I never cared much for the cinematic takes. The 2016 one blew me away, because it was the Jungle Book how I always wanted it to be told. Great discussion!

    1. Nostalgia--now THERE'S the word I was looking for! You're right, today's reboots can do a lot more than the first ones could, visually speaking. That's one reason I really enjoyed the new Cinderella, Maleficent, and Beauty and the Beast. Jungle Book was so good, too! :D

  12. I think you are right when you say that people's opinions on the original color their view of retellings. I have many more thoughts, but I think I will write a response to your post on my blog.

    1. Awesome! I'm looking forward to reading that post. Let me know when it's up! :D

  13. Most of the time, reboots are never as good as the original. But there are exceptions. I like it when they take me on a journey that has never been done before, or even a truer retelling. It depends on the story.

    And retelling something that has never been told before is always fun.

    By the way, I tagged you for the Liebster Award:


    1. Sometimes those reboots do fall flat, I agree. Yes, a fresh take is oftentimes a really good thing! "A truer retelling..." Hmm, I like that.

      If you can FIND something that's never been told before. XD

      Thanks, Catherine! I'll go check that out. ^_^

  14. You know, I've never been a very hardcore fan of anything to be really upset with the retellings (though, I've gotta say the Spiderman thing is getting a little out of hand. Good grief...).
    I know some of the original Disney fairytales can be a bit too corny for me if I watch them nowadays. I seem to remember them more sparse and magical than they are.
    I watched Maleficent before ever watching the first Sleeping Beauty, and it's now one of my favorite movies. There was so much more depth to the story. It was a pure love story, but in a totally different way than we normally see. In my opinion, they managed to capture something very beautiful that wasn't in the original.
    But in the new Cinderella's case, they didn't really change a lot from the animated Disney version, but I also enjoyed that. It might have emphasized different aspects than the original, and I think maybe with retelling, you could do that or just do something totally different! Some people will like it and others won't.

    Thank you for following my blog! =)

    1. Well, that saves you from disappointment, I guess! XD (I know, three different Spider-mans in such a short frame of time IS getting to be a bit much...)

      Isn't it interesting how we remember childhood movies one way, but when we watch them again they seem different?

      Maleficent was so well done! I agree, they did capture something different than the original. (I didn't actually watch the original Disney movie until I was a teen, and it was never really a favorite of mine.)

      Yes, you said it perfectly! Whether you take a more subtle approach or a drastic one, some people will enjoy the retelling and others won't. I personally LOVE LOVE LOVE the new Cinderella. <3

      You're welcome! I'm enjoying it so far! ^_^

  15. For me, retellings are all about staying true to the story's "heart"; what makes it different from all other stories, what it teaches, what the characters learn. I myself am doing a very loose, gender-bent retelling of King Midas, but thankfully as it isn't a very popular or dearly loved folk tale, I feel like I have a lot of creative freedom with it. :) When I pick up a retelling, I'm looking for an author's perspective of the story and its "heart", not an exact replica of the original. XD Great post! Good luck with your writing!

    1. *nods emphatically* YES, the heart is so important! And then if some of the surface elements are tied into the story in a clever way, that's just the icing on the cake.

      I don't think I've ever heard of anyone retelling King Midas--that's so neat! :D I think you'd definitely have more freedom with that one.

      Thanks, and same to you! :)

  16. Ahhhhhhh!!! This post was lovely and also very near and dear to my heart because RETELLINGS are everything!! I love writing them and eeep!! I love reading and watching them too!

    I liked the first two Narnia movies but not the third... Generally I like my retellings to be QUUUUIIIITEE different from the original; very rewired and rethought and rearranged and everything!

    But you are so right. Everyone has different expectations. Because different stories mean different things to different people and are beloved to some people and hated by others.... IT'S A HARD GAME TO PLAY, THAT'S FOR SURE.

    Also I am one of those people who can keep the MOVIE VERSION and the BOOK VERSION verrrrrry separate in her mind. So maybe that's why I like retellings to be quite different??? I'M NOT REALLY SURE.

    I want to write retellings as well... But I think that I'm going to err on the side of making the inspiration as BARELY PERCEPTIBLE as possible... (As in... did you know that the Star Wars movies were all inspired by Greek mythology??? I DID NOT. And I think it's because it's really well-hidden??? But Star Wars is hugely successful. And I think that no matter how hard we try to be ORIGINAL we ARE going to use old ideas, old plots, old themes, old tropes, old characters... we just don't know that we are. So my new philosophy is to INTENTIONALLY base all my stories off of myths or legends or fairytales but change them so as to be unrecognizable.)

    Anyway. I've rambled for long enough! But thank you for writing this! It really got me thinking (obviously!)...

    1. Hahaha, you're so sweet, Kayla!

      Seems a lot of fans didn't like the third. (I'm one of the oddballs who did. XD)

      I just love getting all these viewpoints in the comment section--some of you love wildly different retellings, others prefer more faithful ones... It gives me hope that no matter which direction I go, SOMEONE is going to like it. ;)

      So glad I'm not the only strange one who keeps the movies and books (somewhat) separate! Most people I meet expect a movie to be just like the book, and while I am that way too sometimes, I also see the need to adjust a story to another format. *shrugs* I don't even know what makes me take one side over another sometimes. XD

      You should try it out; it can be a lot of fun! That's a good idea, especially since there are SO MANY retellings on the market right now. (What?! Really? I had no idea. But you're right, we DO reuse and recycle and reform bits of stories from all over the place. I haven't read that book called "Steal Like an Artist," but I'm pretty sure it addresses that topic. And when it comes to originality, I like to remember that the Bible says there is nothing new under the sun! ;))

      Thanks for your lovely comment! I'm glad the post sparked some thoughts. :)

    2. And I'm totally cool with that! When I saw it the first time, I loved it but that's pretty typical of me. It takes me about three readings/viewings to decide how I REALLY feel about something. I'm... rather changeable, apparently.

      Yes! Someone will adore your books no matter what you do and one of those someone's will definitely be me!!

      I really have to keep them separate if I don't want to HATE WITH A PASSION every movie adaption that comes out! :)

      Yeah, Solomon knew where it was at! :) Originality is a bit of a moot point, in that way. :)

    3. I'm much the same way! I'll read or watch something and run around spouting my incoherent reactions, but I think it's an INFJ thing to see both sides to then I'll slow down and reconsider, and then I won't know WHAT I think. I mean, I could ramble about my conflicting thoughts in person well enough, but to present a concrete opinion on my blog or Goodreads is another thing. Like, now that's being set publicly as MY opinion, so I had better have a good reason for it, you know??

      Awwww, really? <333333 That brought such a huge smile to my face, Kayla--thank you!!!

      Hahaha, how true!

      He sure did--I mean, he *was* the wisest man who ever lived... ;)

    4. Exactly! I'm an INTJ, but I can definitely relate to that progression! :)

      Haha, you're welcome! I love this community and look forward to when we are all old published authors!!

      Indeed. ;)

    5. IN*J's unite! ;D

      That is such a lovely I'm imagining all of us as elderly authors with shelves crammed with the books we've written. XD

  17. I love retellings I am one of those weird people who can separate them in my mind. They are not the same, in a way a retelling is like a tribute to the original. Loved hearing your thoughts on this.

    1. *high five* Me too! (Like 98% of the time.) I really like that: a tribute to the original. Well said! :D

  18. Loved this post so much! What a neat topic. I don't think there is a particular formula that you can follow that is ever going to make everyone happy. Whenever I get a negative comment or review for my books, I console myself by going over and reading 1&2 star reviews of books by CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, Diana Wynne Jones and JK Rowling and reassure myself that I'm in good company! :) I love that everyone has different tastes and preferences. Some people absolutely hated the new Hobbit movies. Personally, I loved them. Loved them even more after watching all the special features and listening to how true they really were trying to stay to the heart of Tolkien's story... while also making movies that could go along with the LOTR movies that they'd already made. (The books are so different tonally, that it would be next to impossible to make movies that BOTH portrayed the exact feel of the books AND went together well as a six-movie-set). I see the Hobbit movies as not a true "adaptation" of the book, but rather a set of prequel movies to the LOTR movies BASED on the book... and that differentiation makes a ton of difference (and allows me to shrug off a lot and love the movies while still loving the book).

    (In general, I am also one of those "weird" people who sees the books and movies as being separate. As they have to be told using different mediums, I have to allow for them to be different - for example: Ella Enchanted. I LOVE the book. Oddly enough, I also LOVE the movie. I see those two stories as being SO completely different, that they aren't even remotely the same story, and so I don't care that they are so different... in my mind, they just happen to share the same name).

    I think the reason people love retellings so much is because they love the "original." We hear a story that touches our hearts and something in us longs to experience that again... but even though we can rewatch a favorite until we can recite it backwards and forwards, there's still a yearning to hear/see it again FOR THE FIRST TIME.

    I agree with everyone else who said that to me it's important that a retelling stay true to the "heart" of the original. The one thing that really annoyed me about the new B&B was the line where Mrs. Potts basically blames the Prince's selfishness on his father, "He took that sweet boy and twisted him up until he was just like him." Just. NO. That line absolutely killed the entire theme of the movie and tried to apologize for the beast acting beastly and then becoming a beast for real by saying that it wasn't really his fault. Grrr. I mean, go ahead and create a B&B retelling where that's NOT the theme. I did it myself. Turn the tale on its head if you like and have the beast be cursed through no fault of his own. Every story in Five Enchanted Roses does that, and I have no problem with it. But if the theme IS that the Prince deserved his curse and needs to learn a lesson... don't empty that theme of all its power by also saying that it's not actually his fault he was a rude jerk. (I don't have any sort of deep feelings on the matter at all, haha!)

    I also love wild-ride-twists-and-turns sort of retellings. As evidenced by my favorite stories in Five Glass Slippers and Five Magic Spindles being the futuristic sci-fi feeling ones! And I love humorous takes where the nods to various fairy tales are more clever and tongue-in-cheek (which is probably why I enjoy The Enchanted Forest Chronicles and the Half Upon a Time series so much).

    Anyway, that was all sorts of random and rabbit-traily... thanks for writing such a fun discussionable post!

    1. I'm glad to hear to it! (And I'm sorry for the late response.) I think you're exactly right: there IS no formula for pleasing everyone. I'm not even sure if there's a formula for pleasing ONE person... :P
      Haha, that's a great idea for when those bad reviews come! I need to keep that in mind for the future. ;)
      OKAY, LET ME HUG YOU. You might be one of the first people I've come across who really likes the Hobbit movies despite their differences from the book! Very true about the tonal differences. If they had matched the book in that way, I'll bet they would have upset another group of fans who were expecting the LOTR tone.

      (It's been a really long time since I read the book OR watched the movie, but that's a perfect example! All I really remember of the movie is Anne Hathaway's line about knowing the art of origami... XD)

      Oh, that is such a good point! I think all of us would love to experience our favorite stories for the first time all over again, and retellings are the closest we can get.

      Hmmm, I hadn't given that much thought, but I definitely see what you're saying. That seems to be common lately: victimizing the villain and thereby excusing his or her actions. I like a tragic backstory as much as the next person, and tragedy may make it easier for a character to take a dark path, but taking that path is STILL a choice they make. (*cough cough* Loki... Whom I also love, don't get me wrong. But fangirls are like, "oh, the poor baby!!!" all the time, when he's done some inexcusably bad things.)

      I've heard good things about the sci-fi story in Five Magic Spindles! Have you read the Lunar Chronicles at all? (I think I've been blabbering about them all over this comment section already, but that series is a fantastic set of retellings.) Haha, yes, I love those clever little nods too! :D

      Thanks for the wonderful rabbit-traily comment, Jenelle! I love discussing this sort of thing. ^_^

    2. AGH! I need to read the Lunar Chronicles! I keep meaning to look them up when we go to the library, but I have this condition where the second I enter a library, I forget the titles of every book on my TBR list! :)

    3. YES, READ THEM, READ THEM, READ THEM! Ahem. I'm not a Lunartic, noooo, not at all. XD

      Oh goodness, me too! I'll have a long list of books in my head that I want to read straight away, but then I start browsing the library shelves and half of the titles march out of my head. That's where the Goodreads app is handy. ;)