September 19, 2012

RTW: Spin A (New-ish) Tale

Road Trip Wednesday is a 'Blog Carnival' where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic:
In honor of this month's Bookmobile book, Marissa Meyer's Cinder, name a fable or story you'd like to see a retelling of. If you're feeling creative, come up with a premise of your own!

There are so many directions I could take this, because there are a number of retelling ideas in this brain of mine at this very moment. At least two of them I've already started fleshing them out, and I think they could both be very good. But mum's the word because they're not yet ready to be shared.

As someone with primarily Celtic background, I'd love to see many of the Celtic legends brought to life in a unique way (much like how Marissa Meyer breathed new life into the Cinderella tale). Maybe one day I'll tackle something like that, but for now I think it's best to work with the 5 or 6 stories/story ideas I already have on the go. That being said, there are definitely well-known tales that it would be fantastic to see in some other form than how they were originally told and/or penned. Because isn't that kind of the whole thing with fairy and folk tales? Passed on through the oral tradition, with many cultures telling some version of the same tale.1

I would love to see creative retellings of the following TWO fairy tales (both are favourites of mine):

1.  The Twelve Dancing Princesses - The Brothers Grimm
There are at least three retellings of this tale that I know of 2, but I'd like to see something that veers away from the traditional version of the story. I want to see some sort of paranormal or steampunk or sci-fi twist on the story, where dancing doesn't necessarily have to be dancing (it can be something else totally sinister), and where the princesses don't have to be princesses and there doesn't have to be twelve of them (because generally people don't mate like bunnies these days).


2.  The Wild SwansHans Christian Andersen
I don't know why, but I've always loved this story 3. I remember actually seeing a cartoon version of it years ago, but I've never seen it since. Again, I'd love to see a unique spin on this oneparanormal, steampunk, sci-fi, or some combination thereof. And like the last tale I mentioned, the brothers wouldn't have to turn into swans. It could be something totally different like...creepy, creepy automatons or something. Or to kick up the why-the-H-did-they-make-this-so-fricking-creepy factor, they could turn into ventriloquist dummies or freaky clown dolls. Or not. But you get the idea. 

These retellings would just have to retain the same feel and flavour of the original, along with the skeleton of the tale. Beyond that, it's no holds barred as far as I'm concerned. And that's what makes retellings of familiar tales so much fun!

What tale or story would you like to see retold, and how would you like to see it changed?

This just occurred to me as an afterthought, but how awesome would a retelling of Bluebeard by Charles Perrault be. I'm thinking some kind of YA thriller/horror with some other added element (like sci-fi or whatnot). So, so creepy!

  
1 I took a Fairy & Folk Tales course in university and in the 8.5 years I studied at the post-secondary level (don't ask), it was hands down my favourite class. And it was a night class, so that's saying something.
2 Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George, Entwined by Heather Dixon, and Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier.
3 The Wild Swans has been retold by at least one author that I know of: Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler.

41 comments:

  1. Oh, I'm totally with you on wanting to see a Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling! That was always one of my favorite fairy tales. Wonderful choices!

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    1. It's been retold a few times, but I think it's mostly just been fleshed out more and lengthened. Nobody has really veered much from the original tale. I think it would be so great told differently!

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  2. I like your idea to reach beyond the traditional fairy tale and give one of those a sci-fi twist. I think that type of twist will become more popular as some of the more traditional retellings burn out a bit. Kind of like all the zombie takes on everything.

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    1. Simple retellings are all right, but I love it when an author kicks it up a notch and changes the setting or the genre altogether. I think that's why I loved CINDER so much. And I hear you on the zombie thing--I wish it would just end already. O_o

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  3. Barbie has a version of the The Twelve Dancing Princesses ... don't judge! I watch Barbie movies with my 5yo ;)
    Awesome choices! And very unique ;)

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    1. And that's perfectly okay, Juliana. :) I'd probably watch that one too!

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  4. Ooo... good ideas there, Jaime. And you're right about the re-telling being something original. After all, since the framework of the story is provided by the original tale, the author's originality has to be in the way the story is re-told. The further removed from the tale's original setting, the more unique--and intriguing--it becomes. Genres like steampunk and sci-fi are perfect for this, I think.

    The brothers turning into ventriloquist dummies--the old Victorian/Edwardian style dummies? Eek, that could be an extremely disturbing visual. Cool! ;)

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    1. While I love a good retelling that doesn't stray much from the original, I kind of have to ask "What's the point?". Taking the skeleton of the story and spinning it in an entirely new way is what makes it really interesting.

      And I was totally kidding about the ventriloquist dummies. I think just writing about them would give me nightmares. :P

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  5. These are great choices--far more unique than mine. I totally agree with you about taking paranormal or steampunk or sci-fi twist. But for some reason my head is in a horror twist today (which is weird because I never really thought about writing horror).

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    1. For a horror twist, the story of BLUEBEARD (like I mentioned) would be fantastic! I'm not a big horror girl, but I think that story really lends itself well to that kind of retelling. I want to see more unique twists in the retellings that I read or it just doesn't feel really worth it, you know?

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  6. I absolutely LOVE your picks for a retelling!! I was actually trying to explain 12 dancing princesses to my partner yesterday. He didn't get it at all. Haha! I particularly love the spin you describe with each of these. I have a real weakness for Steampunk so I can just imagine how cool that would be!

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    1. Thanks, Kris (and welcome!) :) I'm really big into Steampunk right now, so I think pretty well any kind of retelling with that twist would appeal to me. I've actually been fleshing out a Steampunk retelling for a while now, and I can't wait to sit down and write it! :)

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  7. I would like to see more sci-fi twists on things...I thought the cartoon version of Treasure Island was great that way.

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    1. Me too! I love the idea of taking a tale that is set in medieval times (or something like that) and not just bringing it to the present, but going beyond that. That actually allows you to work with some of the fantastical elements really well!

      P. S. I knew I was forgetting someone in my "Bookish Folks I'd Like to Meet" post yesterday--you! :)

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  8. Juliet Marillier's first book, which is actually featured as an adult book, retells The Wild Swans. Daughter of the Forest is one of my favorite books because what she does with the main character, Sorcha, was such an undertaking by a first time author (Sorcha loses her speech for most of the book). They're great books to base books on, for sure!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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    1. I haven't actually read any Marillier yet (though I do have WILDWOOD DANCING on my shelf), but the fact that she tackled not one but two of my favourite fairy tales makes me want to get on that! Thanks for sharing this info with me. :)

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  9. These sound like really fun re-telling ideas! Have you read Heather Dixon's re-telling of the 12 princesses? The book is called "Entwined" and I really enjoyed it.

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    1. No, I haven't yet, but I'd like to. It's one of the three retellings that I know of for THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES. I've heard good things about it. :)

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    2. I was going to ask if you'd read it. I found it hard to relate to, because there were so many girls to keep straight! So I totally agree that someone could do it with fewer sisters and a new spin. By the way, how are you liking The Night Circus? I looooovvveeed it, maybe just because I hadn't read a really beautiful adult novel in a while.

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  10. I like the clown doll idea (I am terrified of dolls). I also think a horror/thriller Bluebeard story would be great!

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    1. I was totally kidding about the clown dolls, but that would certainly be creepy, wouldn't it? And so would BLUEBEARD. Yikes! O_o

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  11. Oo! Oo! If you want a retelling of Bluebeard that quite's horrific read Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber and other stories. It's a short story collection on retellings and she does one on Bluebeard! =D

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    1. I think I've heard of one retelling, but it would be especially good for the YA market. I've been hearing a lot of agents saying that they're looking for YA horror stories and the like. Too bad I'm not actually all that into horror...

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  12. I love your ideas :D and those tales!
    I thought Bluebeard to already be creepy, but creepier = better (sounds weird, but you know what I mean :D)

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    1. Thanks, Elodie. :) And you're right--BLUEBEARD is already pretty stinking creepy. But can you imagine it as a YA thriller/horror? I've heard agents asking for more YA horror type stories, so this could definitely be a winner. But, like I said to Robin, I'm not much of a horror fan. Too bad...

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  13. Oooh, Bluebird is such a creepy one! I think a retelling of that would be amazing.

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    1. Wouldn't it? Like I've said to others here: a lot of agents have been mentioning that they're looking for more YA horror. I think a retelling of BLUEBEARD could be a winner. I'm just not all that into horror, so I'm not sure that I'm the one to write it. :)

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  14. I always loved 'The Twelve Dancing Princesses'. That another one of those fairy tales that has me wondering how many of the details have some element of truth, and how much of it is completely made up.

    I remember reading a MG contemporary novel that was similar to Bluebeard. It was about a girl whose mother remarried a mysterious guy, and in digging into his step-father's past, she unveils some nasty secrets (dun dun daaaaaah). I can't remember for the life of me what the name of the book was.

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    1. I'd love to know how much of these stories is true and how much is made up. How fascinating would that be? That MG novel sounds interesting and kind of creepy. At least at the YA level a BLUEBEARD retelling could be full-on creepy! :)

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  15. I love Twelve Dancing Princesses, what a great choice. I only knew of one of the adaptations too so I will definitely check the others out!

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    1. It's such a great story and has always felt very magical to me. Some of the picture book versions of it are absolutely gorgeous (like the one above).

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  16. Ahh the Wild Swans!! Yes! Great post, would love to see how that's done!

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    1. I'm not sure exactly how that would all play out, but I think (like I mentioned above) it wouldn't necessarily have to be swans that they're turned into. The point still remains the same: they turned into something non-human and she has to somehow change them back. And of course, you'd have the one brother how still retains some aspect of what he was turned into (a swan wing or, say, an automaton arm?). That would be a great story to write!

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  17. I just read Twelve Dancing Princesses a couple months ago and it sounds like an awesome tale to retell. A sci-fi or steampunk element would be so cool.

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    1. I have no idea how that would all play out, but it would certainly be fun planning it and re-imagining it. :)

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  18. I haven't read either of those. I'll have to look for them.

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    1. I'd say definitely read them in picture book form--the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous for THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES in particular. :)

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  19. Ooh, THE WILD SWANS would be cool! I like fairy tale retellings that are just that--retellings with a unique twist or two, but that retain the feel of the original story. I'm not usually a fan of complete re-imaginings.

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    1. I really like both forms of retelling, mostly true to the original and then those that retain only the most basic skeleton. I think it's great to have a range of these types of retellings only so that they don't end up being too similar. :)

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  20. I love your thoughts on these retellings! And you took a course on Fairy and Folk tales?! So jealous. My favorite was an entire class devoted to Shakespeare (we studied his work from an actor's POV), but that one would've run a close second for me!

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    1. The course was fantastic! It was amazing just how many different cultures had the same tales just with different flavour. I guess that's how the oral tradition works. :) I also took a class devoted to Shakespeare and it was pretty great. Very hard to keep up with, though, between sorting through the language, the pace that we were moving at, all of the other courses with heavy reading that I was taking... I wish I could go back and redo it without all of the other course distractions. :)

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