Retold Tales


by Raymond M. Coulombe

Every now and then there is a flood of stories based on children’s stories. Of course, Disney does it all the time, but they aren’t alone. It happens in print constantly. Writers think they are clever by putting their own twist on it. For example, Snow White and Seven Dwarfs now take place in space. Setting are changed. Scenes are updated. Viewpoints are altered. Even the moral of the story is changed. Usually the story is retold for adults.

Sometimes the retelling is skillfully done. Other times, not so much. Often the writer is not as clever as they think they are. For a writer, it’s a tempting road to go down. It’s much easier to alter an existing work. The blank page can be intimidating.

While there is a market for that sort of thing, it’s a fickle market. The reader’s appetite for a redone children’s story is easily filled. From an editor’s viewpoint, it can be weird. Months go by with no submissions based on fairy tales. Then one month the slush pile is full of them. I’ve no idea what sets them off. If my mood was right, perhaps one of those would get published. Maybe.

If you want to use a classic kid’s story as a starting point, go right ahead. Use it as a jumping off point. I’ve an artist friend who’s using some of his old art to create new art. He loads the original into his computer and begins to alter the images. When he’s done, it’s almost always impossible to see any elements of the original work. He may have started with an old image, but by the time he’s done, he’s created something new. Writers can do the same thing in print. If an editor doesn’t easily recognize the original story under the new, you’ve succeeded.

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