Monday, January 6, 2014



Now that I've gotten that out of the way...

Over the holidays, I read Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope. It's a modern adaptation of Jane Austen's book of the same name. And I have thoughts. LOTS of thoughts.

When I wrote my first draft of Sway, (which, FYI is a modern adaptation of Persuasion by Jane Austen) one of the big resounding comments I got from all of my betas and CPs was that it was too close to the original. And it was. So I revised, tried to make it more my own. I still worry that it's not standing out like I'd like it to because I haven't made it wow-worthy. Look at Diana Peterfreund's For Darkness Shows the Stars, also a Persuasion redux. That book was brilliant. Beautifully written and so original yet true to Jane Austen's story. I read that book and despaired.

I liked Joanna Trollope's version of S&S, but it was EXACTLY the same. Aside from giving Elinor a job (which is barely mentioned) and giving Margaret a high school (which is almost never mentioned) it's the SAME. Almost paragraph for paragraph. Every plot point matches up, every character was included. Even every name, both people and place, was the same. She threw in a few mentions of Twitter and Facebook and iPods, a minor character ended up gay, but it was the SAME.

I guess Joanna Trollope, who's written tons of books (S&S was the first I've read by her), is allowed to do this. She already has a readership. She's an experienced writer. She can do what she wants because her fan base is already there. I don't have that luxury.

This isn't meant to be a bitter rant (I hope it doesn't sound that way), nor do I regret making the changes I made to make Sway more my own. It's just me, noticing. And somehow, it also gives me a bit more hope for this little romance book I've written that I love so much.


  1. This is interesting, Melanie--partly because it has some connection to an article I posted today about movie adaptations of books. I guess I would ask the same question of Ms. Trollope as I would some movie producers: why? What was lacking in the original version of S&S that you felt it needed to be re-written in a modern context--especially if you're going to stay very close to the plot of the original? Isn't it better to be *inspired* by the original to produce your own work that may have similarities to the original, but is clearly something new (which is what I presume you were trying to do, Melanie)?

    I've not read Trollope's book, and I've not read the original Austen either--but if Trollope is that close to Austen, I think I would sooner read what Austen wrote. That's my 2c anyway.

    All the best with SWAY! :)

  2. When I did my modern adaptation, I didn't want to stray too far because I wanted to keep the feel of her story. I wouldn't want to read something that was a redux and think, they destroyed the original! But I think I learned, at least a little, how to keep the same feel as well as make it my own.
    Funny enough, I feel differently about movie adaptations. I never understand why movies feel the need to change things from the book, especially big things. I'm heading over to your post right now to see how you fee about it.

  3. I agree about adaptions needing to stand out. Otherwise, why read it over the original?

    Thoughtful post, Melanie.

  4. I guess if you were going to rewrite the book just to add Twitter and Facebook, you mine as well just have let Jane Austen stick to the original, right? Who needs Twitter anyways? It's good that yours stands out. That's the whole point. :)