Adaptations and What We Bring to Them

I love adaptations of classic tales. Fairy tale adaptations like Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl, or takes on Shakespear ala Something Rotten by Alan Gratz always gets my attention. But what makes a good adaptation? On her blog today, Mary Kole looks at that exact issue and why an adaptation has to be its own story as well. I love this description of making an old story new:

“She didn’t just tinker with the original, she took the entire thing apart, repainted it, and put it back together her own way. An adaptation in today’s market takes nothing less.”

The adaptation in question is Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, which I haven’t read yet (I know, I know), but even from the description it sounds like a really fun, unique, compelling take on the Cinderella story. Another one I love is Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. Even that’s a little more on the “traditional” site (there are fairy godmothers and princes), but it takes the Cinderella story to the next level by giving Ella a physical and emotional journey.

It’s always good to ask yourself “Why does this story need to be told? And why does it need to be told this way?” But it’s especially important when dealing with adaptations. Shakespeare already told us about Hamlet. Why do we need another Hamlet story? And is your Hamlet story going to be different than Something Rotten or Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead? It adds another layer of pressure onto the author, but it can lead to some rich and engaging new takes on old tales. I find it exciting to be told the same story from another point of view or with another layer added to it. Just make sure you’re still writing your own story.

3 thoughts on “Adaptations and What We Bring to Them

  1. I still need to read Cinder too! And agree that adaptations have to stand on their own. One of my favorite novels is The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, and I just finished The Innocents, a new release from Frances Segal that is a sort of retelling, but she definitely made it her own by trasporting the story from New York to Jewish North London. I didn’t think it’d compare to my love for the original, but it won my heart on its own.

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