November sees the biggest writing event of the year - National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo
. Professional writers, amateur writers, anyone can join. The goal? To finish a 50,000 word novel within the 30 days of November, not worrying too much at this stage about quality - just write all the words down in November and stress about editing and whipping it into shape another time.
I've always sort of wanted to take part, it sounds like such fun. Isn't it on most people's bucket lists? To write a novel? It's been on mine for ages. And for anyone on the fence about taking part or a bit reluctant, I'd say go for it
And while I thought of the theme for today's post long before I remembered that it is near the start of NaNoWriMo, it does still sort of tie in. In a cheeky way, I think. Look at the list of books below? All are retellings of other famous stories or characters. So, while it is always IDEAL to have an original idea for your story, it isn't always essential. Is that wrong of me to suggest? I don't know. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
- What? You're surprised that I am talking about The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman AGAIN?! :) It is October's Blurbing Book Club selection and there's just a few days left to read it. Neil Gaiman took inspiration from The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling and instead of a boy being raised in the jungle with animals, Bod, the hero of The Graveyard Book is raised in a cemetary with ghosts. It is a wonderful little book to read, please join the discussion and blurb it. Thank you. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
- I think must be Gregory Maguire's most famous fairy tale retelling. It isn't the only one, however. Confessions of An Ugly Stepsister, Mirror, Mirror. He's taken these stories back to a place of darkness and has been wildly popular with them. I much prefer the happier musical that has been released, but I can see Maguire's appeal. The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
- This is a really fun series of books retelling Alice in Wonderland. It's dark and reimagines Alice's experiences in a very different way to the story that we've all heard and loved. I haven't read the sequels, Seeing Redd and ArchEnemy but I had a really great time reading the first book. It's packed with adventure. Ash by Malinda Lo
- Ash comes with a real twist and I'm glad that I didn't know of it beforehand. It's a retelling of Cinderella, only with a new love interest and the addition of fairies. I'm not the biggest fan of books involving fairies, but this one I enjoyed very much. Malinda Lo has a new book The Huntress out soon. Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve
- I could have chosen any number of retellings of the Arthurian legend, but this one by Philip Reeve I've read most recently and I found it to be sufficiently different that it didn't feel like a retelling at all. What I loved most about the book, other than Reeve's masterful writing, was the importance placed on stories and story-telling. It's an excellent message. Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding
- Jane Austen has been retold is so many different ways. One of which is Bridget Jones' Diary, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Despite the retelling, Fielding gives it a more personal touch, telling it in diary format and gives Bridget a lot of the same insecurities about their weight and body image that is very relateable.Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
- This book takes its inspirations by on the mythology of Greek gods and their adventures. It's a fun series that gives a younger audience to some very classic, old tales. I think Greek mythology is absolutely fascinating to read about and I think you shouldn't miss this series.
Others include works by Alex Flinn
such as Beastly
(modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast which will soon be made into a film) or A Kiss in Time
(retelling of Snow White). Shannon Hale's The Goose Girl
. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
which gives Little Red Riding Hood a twist. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
, setting Snow White in a concentration camp during WWII.
The Canongate Myths series
, which is a series of books in which popular authors retell their favourite myths, including Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
, The Odyssey retold from the point of view of Penelope or Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith
which is a retelling of Iphis, is an excellent source of material which uses its inspiration from elsewhere.
There's always a huge spate of classics being retold in a paranormal way: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
for instance. Or Jane Slayre
, My Darcy, Vampyre
. I'm not sure how I feel about these types of books as yet. What are you thoughts and opinions?
The point of this post isn't to copy your favourite book out. The point is that originality within novel writing doesn't have to be an obstacle to putting fingers to keys. I'm not a writer myself (blog posts such as these aside), but I find that it would be very difficult not to take inspiration from so many different sources. Each of these authors and books have been INSPIRED by something else. If you have a passion for a particular story, then try to look at it from a different perspective, tell it in a different, possibly more modern way. Write it in your voice and no one else's. But write. I'd love to see more of a younger generation inspired to write the book that needs to be read, the book that has been missing from the shelves at your local book store.
If you need support or advice, there's already an active NaNoWriMo group
that I'm sure would love to help in any way.
The October Blurbing Book Club discussion
of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman finishes on the 31st. You still have time to get your comments and blurbs in. The November book club selection will run between the 1st and 30th of November and we will be discussing Before I Fall by Lauren OIiver, which was recently mentioned in Katia's blog post about bullying
. From the 15th to 19th November, it is Anti-Bullying Week, and I'd love for you all to read this book and join in on our discussion.
As always, if you have questions, comments or thoughts on what should appear in these books posts please feel free to leave me a comment on message me. I'd love to hear what you have to say. So now I leave it to you...Will you be taking part in NaNoWriMo this year? Have you read any of the books I've mentioned? Which is your favourite retelling?