Friends, let me introduce to you a friend and fellow writer Neal Abbott:

Rewriting The Classics

Whenever we hear of someone writing a more updated version of an older story, it is common to ridicule it as possibly being uninteresting and unoriginal. But who here doesn’t love the musical West Side Story even though we all know it’s an update of “Romeo and Juliet”? And let’s face it, almost every romantic comedy, from Philadelphia Story to When Harry Met Sally, follow the formula laid down by Shakespeare in “The Taming of the Shrew.” There are probably more update of old favorites out there that we don’t even know are based on something way back when.

Is It Original?

Some worry that rewriting the classics would come off as a knockoff somehow. Consider the popular BBC television show “Sherlock”. Everyone knows it’s based on original Doyle work made more current. And it’s not slavishly following the original text, and yet it comes across as something thoroughly original by the viewer. No one calls “Sherlock” a knockoff of Doyle, but many appreciate as very original story telling.

Have you ever noticed that the old movie A Raisin in the Sun is just one of many retellings of the old Faust legend? Sydney Poitier is tempted to sell his soul to the devil when he is propositioned to sell his house, make no mistake about it. And how many of you noticed that The Natural is a Grail Quest? Robert Redford and his Knights battle with bats in place of swords in order to remove the curse from Pop Fisher, the Fisher King. Are not these completely original stories? And yet they lay on top of older tales and do not have the hint of anything dirty because of it.

Is It Interesting?

Let’s just run down some of the stories we have already examined: West Side Story, When Harry Met Sally, “Sherlock”, Raisin in the Sun, and The Natural. Are any of these movies or shows boring? Not at all, and that’s because their writers were not just slavishly moving old characters and plot points into our times. They were still Creative Writers. There is nothing not creative in these pieces, and there is nothing not creative in rewriting the Classics, just as long as it’s well done.

I’ve saved one of my favorites for last. James Joyce’s Ulysses is in my opinion the best novel ever written. And yet it is clear what Joyce is up to. This effort is the top banner to all updated versions of older tales. If he can do it, then so can you. One of the ready problems is that you have to be well read in the classics to ever rewrite one. That’s were many writers today go squishy. We will be better off to read more of the standards of great literature. Our literary breadth with be enhanced and, who knows, we may find a great idea for a story in there, too.


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Thank you Neal for the insight!

There is nothing new under the sun they say. Every idea has been done before. I say this: Tell it in a way that has never been told. – Beth Hammond

Make sure to check out his new release “Bloodhound