Saturday, 12 March 2016

Counting Down to Camp 1 - What Makes a Retelling?

A question I've been puzzling over a lot in the run-up to camp is 'what makes a retelling?' Is it a similar setting? Is it using the original character names? Is it simply following the basic plot?

For my Camp story, I'm writing a Robin Hood retelling. In a totally different time period. In a totally different timeline. Where all myths are true.

What I'm wondering is, at what stage is it so far removed that I can no longer call it a retelling? 

At what stage do I cut ties completely with the Robin Hood mythos?

But the trouble is, I don't want to do that. This story started as a very simple retelling of one or two of the original legends, and it's evolved into this crazy, fantastical world that I absolutely adore.

(But it's a world built on another story. Maybe fact, maybe fiction. Either way, is it really your story with all that background?)

That's the entire point of retelling. Take an old story, make it new again. It's something that's been done a thousand times before. For example...
  • Supernatural Season 9 includes an episode based on the Wizard of Oz.
  • Wicked by Gregory Maguire is also based on the Wizard of Oz.
  • Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus is the story of Philomela from Ovid's Metamorphoses.
  • The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer are based on several fairy tales including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel. 
  • Magi: the Labyrinth of Magic is a manga based on Arabian Nights.
And let's not even get started on the way films of books retell them.

Retelling is about keeping old stories alive, often by giving them a new lease of life. 

How do you define a retelling? And can you recommend any good ones?