What I've read lately

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Mon Jan 27 18:49:31 EST 2003

On Tue, 28 Jan 2003 00:26:00 +1100, Kathryn Andersen wrote:

>So why did they work, and this one didn't?  I think maybe for a
>retelling to work, one has to focus on the emotional core of the plot,
>rather than its details.  In "The Stars My Destination", the emotional
>core is a man betrayed -- the form the betrayal takes is different, but
>the emotional resonance is the same.  Concentrating on the characters is
>always a good thing.
>So, could Jenna Starborn have been salvaged if it had been written in a
>different way?  I don't know.

If you are retelling a story, and the only thing you do is change the names
of the characters and the setting, you haven't given the reader anything
new, and consequently haven't given them any reason to read.  I think what
happened here is that the author didn't have anything new to say--or, if she
did, failed to deliver.  I don't see any reason why a science-fictional
retelling of _Jane Eyre_ couldn't succeed, mainly because the novel has so
many "things" it's about: honor, chastity, passion, love.  Pick one and make
it relevant in a society where those things are all passe.  Focus on
Jane/Jenna's emotions rather than making up an SF equivalent for the
traveling fortune-teller.  So yes, I think you're right that focusing on the
details doesn't work.  Maybe this could be a lesson to anyone interested in
retelling others' tales....

Melissa Proffitt

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