Charis Negley, Author at Craft Your Content

All posts by Charis Negley

Margaret Atwood

Twice Upon a Time: How to Write Captivating Retellings

As the music swirled around me in the summer night, I sat entranced, a story fitting together piece by piece in my head. 

There I was, sitting in the botanical gardens, captivated by a fountain show inspired by the music of Swan Lake. As I listened to the incredible music, I read through the synopsis, following along with the tale. The characters spoke to me, eager for their stories to be expanded upon. The original ballet had captured much, but so much more could be done, I realized. 

That was the beginning of my first novel project.

To retell a story is to grasp its essence—its themes, its characters, its aesthetics, and overarching story—and bring it to your audience in a new, exciting light. Retelling is not remaking but taking a story and twisting it into something you can call new and your own.

It is important that you are retelling a story, not remaking it. A remake is the same story, with very few elements changed. For example, Disney’s Cinderella (2015) is a remake of their movie, Cinderella (1950). The 2015 film was a live-action remake, keeping the same characters and key points of the story, just telling it in a different visual way. 

A remake is permissible but does not bring anything new to the audience. What readers want to see is a retelling: a story they are familiar with told with new twists.

If you’ve ever read or watched a great story and thought, “what if…?” you might be ready to write a retelling. Let’s look at how to choose a story, what missteps to avoid, the rules for retelling, and the methods you need to know.

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