A retelling is a variation on an older story. Usually it takes the same plot, although it can take the same characters and give them a different ending. In Out, Proud, and Prejudiced, I’ve translated the plot of Pride and Prejudice (with some changes) into a modern British setting, with gay main characters. But there are many different ways to retell a story.
Sometimes a person might put the exact same story with the same characters into their own words. This is what we do when we tell a traditional fairy story from memory to our kids. We might know the essential storyline of Cinderella, for example, with the stepsisters and the pumpkin coach and the glass slipper, and we tell it in our own words.
Then there’s what Shakespeare did with a lot of his plays, which is to take a story and flesh it out. You don’t change the names of the main characters, the setting, or the basic facts, but you might add secondary characters and minor plot lines, and all of the dialogue will be original. All of Shakespeare’s historical plays are like that, and so are some of the others that are based on known stories. I think it’s something he had a special talent for.
For example, King Richard III was killed at the battle of Boswell, and that’s not something Shakespeare could change when he wrote Richard III. But he was free to make Richard as villainous as he wanted (since Elizabeth I, the reigning monarch in Shakespeare’s time, wasn’t descended from him). He really went to town on that, in fact. And there’s an interesting novel by Josephine Tey, The Daughter of Time, that challenges Shakespeare’s portrayal.
Then there’s the kind of variation where a story is told from a different point of view—often the POV of the villain in the original. Examples I’ve enjoyed are Wicked by Gregory Maguire and The Henchmen of Zenda by K.J. Charles. In these, the main events are the same, and some of the original scenes and dialogue remain, but the author puts a whole new twist on the story.
Another kind is where the story is transported into another time or setting. That’s what I’ve done with Out, Proud, and Prejudiced. The events are equivalent, but not the same—Darius and Bennet first meet in a nightclub instead of at a ball, Darius owns Pemberley but it’s let, Bennet needs to find a job, not a husband—and all of the dialogue is new.
I had a lot of fun writing this retelling, and I hope you find it fun to read. You don’t have to have enjoyed (or even read) Pride and Prejudice. As with most retellings, if you do know the original story it can be entertaining to spot the links. But reviews are coming in from people who’ve never read P&P but love my version. I hope you will too!
Out, Proud, and Prejudiced was published on June 4th.