Falling for Autumn 2014 Read-a-Thon {Day 6 | Guest Author: Lisa Jensen}

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Day 6 – September 27th

The day before last of Falling for Autumn Read-a-Thon. Cannot believe it’s almost over. It feels like yesterday when I had the idea and now we’re almost done. 

Yesterday, Day 5, Ashley @Falling Down the Book Hole hosted a discussion topic about “” and a challenge. If you want to know more about it, you can go to this link.

And today I’m very happy to introduce you to Lisa Jensen and her amazing guest-post. Hopefully we will all learn a bit about re-inventing classics with this top 5 🙂

And Kayla @The Thousand Lives is hosting a challenge for you. All you have to do is click on the banner below and enter 😀

Lisa Jensen’s Guest Post:

| Top 5 Strategies to Re-Imagine a Classic Book:

Classic stories are considered “classic” for a reason. Whether fairy tales, folklore, or great novels that endure over time, they present a view of life and its challenges that keeps us enthralled.

And when a story has been around for a few decades, or a few centuries, it becomes rich and familiar enough to make it irresistible for writers to try to tell the old story in a new way. In fact, a true test of a classic tale is its adaptability, how easily it might be re-imagined and retold for a new generation. 

These days, retold classics are more popular than ever. And approaches taken can be as varied as each individual author’s imagination. For any writer thinking of taking the plunge, here are five basic strategies to re-imagine a classic tale in a different and provocative new way.

| 1. Tell the same story from a different viewpoint.

What if it was Rhett’s Butler’s adventures we followed in Gone With the Wind? What if Boo Riley narrated To Kill A Mockingbird? If you want a fresh take on the material, choose a different character to tell the story from his or her perspective. It can be a major character who might be “offstage” a lot in the original version, or a secondary or even a minor character, anyone whose viewpoint presents the events of the story in an interesting new light. Recent novels have revealed the untold stories of Captain Ahab’s wife. Huck Finn’s father, Oliver Twist’s mentor, the Artful Dodger, and Mr. March, the absent father of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.

Another way to do this is invent a new character to insert into the events of the story—the housemaid of Dr. Jekyll, for instance (Mary Reilly), or the staff below stairs in the Bennett household (Longbourn).

| 2. Set the story in a different time or place.

Okay, it would be foolhardy to take Gone With the Wind out of the American South during the Civil War. What would be the point? But fairy tales, which always occur in some vague “Once upon a time,” can be completely revitalized by resetting them in some very specific historical era. Gregory Maguire is a master at this; he reset Cinderella amid the tulip-growing industry in 17th century Holland (making room for plenty of meditation on popular concepts of beauty), and relocated Snow White among the ruthless Borgias in Renaissance Italy. In her new adult novel, Bitter Greens, Kate Forsyth stretches the action of Rapunzel across two time periods, from the court of France’s “Sun King,” Louis XIV, backwards to Renaissance Venice. A historical setting can add texture and context to a simple tale we all think we know.

In my novel, Alias Hook, I tried to think what life had been like for James Hook before he became the infamous villain of the Neverland. I imagined him as a boy, as a young blood about town in 18th Century London, and as a dashing gentleman privateer-turned-pirate. All of which made his character for more complex and interesting. (I hope!)

| 3. Tell a different part of the story.

It’s fun to imagine key characters before or after the events in the original tale in which they appear. How are the various Bennett or Dashwood sisters enjoying married life? What if Tiny Tim grows up and falls in love?

My novel, Alias Hook, begins just after the story of Peter Pan ends. What if Captain Hook isn’t eaten by the crocodile, but lives on—and on, and on—trapped in a nightmare of eternal childhood in the Neverland until he finally gets one last chance to escape? Think about how the characters got to the point where the familiar story begins, or else, imagine what becomes of them after “The End,” and go from there.

| 4. Redeem the villain.

This is my personal favorite! This idea popularized by Gregory Maguire in Wicked is devastatingly simple: tell the familiar story from the villain’s point of view. Give the wicked witch or the evil pirate or the menacing monster a chance to tell their side of the story. Maybe the villain has a perfectly good reason for acting the way he does. Maybe he regrets his action and wants to reform. Or maybe he’s just as villainous, but his view of events is so sharp and witty, his entertaining narration deserves to be heard. Turning the designated villain into someone the reader roots for makes the whole story fresh and unexpected.

| 5. Switch key roles.

Finally, however far you want to redeem your villain—or not—try switching the roles of antagonist and protagonist. Make the villain the main character who observes and experiences the story (the protagonist). And make the usual hero of the tale into, well, not necessarily the villain, but the antagonist, the person who always acts in opposition to the main character. They don’t necessarily have to represent good and evil, but they need to have such opposite goals that their agendas are always in conflict. And conflict makes drama!


Thank you much Lisa Jensen for these tips. I love the idea of a redeemed villain from a classic – I guess that was one of the reasons I loved Alias Hook 😉

Lisa Jensen has contributed with an amazing giveaway for the read-a-thon where you can win an ARC copy of Alias Hood (US only). Just go to the rafflecopter and enter 🙂

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Good luck everyone 😉

Don’t go away without leaving your Day 5 progress here:

And for the final day of the read-a-thon we’re going to have a guest-post by Erica Crouch [Ignite; Entice; Madly, Deeply] and a challenge by Emily @Books and Cleverness (virtual hugs to you!)

Happy Reading everyone ^_^

XX Ner


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