Thursday, June 23, 2011
New Wine in Old bottles
‘Most intellectual development depends upon new readings of old texts. I am all for putting new wine in old bottles, especially if the pressure of the new wine makes the bottles explode.’
(Angela Carter, “Notes from the Front Line”)
I remember when my creative writing teacher first put this idea in my head. Sorting through old fairy tales, myths, and legends, and finding a whole new take on a story, changing it up to make new, different, exiting, or current. One novel that does this PERFECTLY is Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted. If you have not read Ella Enchanted please go get it right now! (you can borrow it from me if you need to...but only if I know you. Otherwise that might just be weird.)
Ella enchanted is a story about a girl who has cursed with the gift of obedience. She lives with her two step sisters, wicked step mother, and is forced to be a maidservant for her family. Sound familiar? Yep, you got it. It's Cinderella. However, Levine adds in Ella's gift of obedience to change up the classic tale, she also creates a dynamic, layered, and extended story that keeps you hooked.
I love the idea of putting new wine in old bottles (well, as long as it applies to story writing). I've been sorting through Grimm's fairy tales myself, trying to find this same creative inspiration. To me it is pure talent to find old fairy tales, myths, or legends and make it an incredible and new story that's all your own.