Friday, August 10, 2012

Thoughts On Reduxes

I have a brother-in-law who hates the fact that old movies keep being remade. Never mind the fact that we all went to the new Total Recall last weekend. He thinks people should come up with their own brand new ideas instead of redoing old ones.

The thing is... nothing is a new idea, not really. I can't remember which author said, there are no new stories, just new ways of spinning old stories (obviously not a direct quote). No matter what, the thing you're writing or reading has already been done. Say you're writing a spy story. Maybe you have a rogue agent. Or a double agent. Maybe one of your characters appears good but turns out bad or the other way around. Your spy probably has some amazing gadgets. The setting is most likely amazing locations around the world.

Think these spies are the same?

Sound familiar? I've described every spy movie or book I've ever read. But they are all different. I wouldn't compare The Gallagher Girls with Mission Impossible. I wouldn't compare Spooks with Get Smart. Even though their bare bones are the SAME, the stories are different, the characters are different, the feel is different.

Of course, then there's the people who actually redo old stories. Like me. Why do we do this? When I first had the idea to do a Persuasion redux I balked. Not just because I was worried if I could pull it off (too close to the story? too way out there away from the original?). I remember thinking to myself that I should write something my own. Like, can't I come up with my own ideas?

I think we redo old favorites because they are just that- favorites. They are stories we LOVE. Stories that evoke major emotions within us. Stories we feel close to, like an old friend. For me, I was fascinated by putting Persuasion into the modern world. How would it change? How would it stay the same? Would the story really be much different nowadays than in Jane Austen's time?
Maybe I just feel the need to defend myself. Especially since my WIP is also a redux, although I'm going much further afield from the original. But I don't see the problem in remaking movies or reduxing books. (Provided the author has already passed on. Don't get me started on publishing fanfic.) When I hear of a redux of a book I loved, guess what? I'm first in line to buy it. Because I know that I will feel a connection to it at the very least, and at most, I will LOVE it like I LOVED the original.

What are your thoughts on reduxes?


  1. I love reduxes. However I think you need to make it clear that it is one - i.e. giving hints throughout the book or using a similar humor to the original, etc. Something that keeps us still on edge, wanting to read more, but recognizing that we might already know the plot. :-) I "reduxed" Heathers...not quite exactly, but my novel originally sprouted from the idea that Heathers was a great cult classic and why had no one taken that to YA novel form? It still has the feel of Heathers, but isn't quite a redux of it. :) Best of luck with your WIP, Melanie!

  2. I have mixed feelings on reduxes. When they are done right, they are awesome. But sometimes I feel like they're done just to make money, or to build off of the originals fame. I really like it when a story takes that original idea and throws a new twist on it that still fits with the story. If that makes any sense. Good luck with your own WIP! I'm sure you'll be able to do a good job with it.

  3. Oh my gosh, you're writing a redux of Persuasion!!!?!??! I LOVE that story. I hope I get to see what you've done with it someday!

    I have no problem with reduxes, spinoffs, etc... (Provided that a distinction is made and we aren't simply publishing fanfic, as you said. Fanfic is a different thing entirely, has different uses, and is legitimate in different environments.) It's an important part of literature, in my opinion, and one that has been around longer than it might at first seem. (Secondary epics, anyone??)

    Also, while I understand and for the most part agree with what it's trying to say, I don't actually think the "There are no new stories" quote stands up to scrutiny if you probe it deeply. But that would take me a while to explain. Maybe a blog post someday. :P

  4. I think reduxes can work very well. Certainly Austen can work very well when moved into today's society because the comparisons with dating/meeting someone then and now can bring out and add so much to the story, it can add a layer, as much as anything. (Look at Bridget Jones as a redux of Pride and Prejudice - says a lot about meeting your 'Darcy' then and now, you can see the inspiration but it treats the source anew...) Good luck with it!