I’m Kat! Professional Storyteller & Neurodivergent Creative

Hey, why do fairytales 🧚 get to have all the fun?

Published 3 months ago • 3 min read




Well hello there, Reader,

Just the other week it was National Fairytale Day, which got me thinking about my own WIP, This Fair City. But more so, how you can’t take a step in the Fiction section of any bookstore or library without your gaze landing on a fairy tale retelling.

You’ve got Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses, Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, and who can forget Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted.

I mean, it was a Newbery Honor book and a movie starring Anne Hathaway that featured a dramatic musical number to my second favorite Queen song.

But you might be asking, Do retellings always have to be based on fairy tales or folk tales?

Not. At. All.

In fact, Rick Riordan basically made an entire career writing about the quirky misadventures of young teen demigods based on Greek, Roman, Norse, and Egyptian mythology.

But maybe you’re looking to base your retellings on something with a little more structure. Then look no further than the infamous playwright of ol’ London Town, William Shakespeare.

I mean he does have a lot to pick from. Everything from political dramas, to romantic comedies, to bitter tragedies.

And Here Are 5 Ways (with Examples) to Make Them Your Own

1) Changing the Setting

One of the simplest ways to make a retelling your own is to change the setting. Make it a dystopian future on the moon. Set it in Imperial China. Or…set in a public high school in Washington in the late 1990s.

Unlike the original Taming of the Shrew, which was set in the Italian city of Padua, 10 Things I Hate About You transformed the play into a romantic teen comedy set at Padua High School in the Seattle area. It also changed the story from being primarily about a strong woman being forced to become a submissive wife, to high school students trying to gain dates for a formal dance.

2) Swapping the Gender

Another simple change is to swap the gender of the Legendary Character or one of the other lead characters.

Another Me is a brilliant example of gender-swapping a character and changing the setting of a story.

In Another Me, the Legendary Character Fay Delussey is cast as Lady Macbeth in her school’s play Macbeth. However, Fay’s true role in the narrative of the story is that of Macbeth himself. Because over the course of the story, Fay becomes increasingly paranoid believing a doppelgänger is pursuing her. The story continues until eventually Fay is replaced on opening night of the play by her long-dead twin Layla.

Another Me is a 2003 novel and a 2013 film starring Sophie Turner.

3) Changing the Genre

You could change the genre to something wholly unexpected.

There’s no less obvious way to retell Romeo & Juliet than through a zombie apocalypse. And yet a story like Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion exists.

4) Blending Stories

You could combine one or more of Shakespeare’s plays or combine one of his plays with a fairytale or other public domain story.

Requiem of the Rose King blends Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 3, and Richard III, and weaves lines from the plays into the narrative while also changing the story to be told primarily through the perspective of an intersex Richard III.

My upcoming Boys Love novel This Fair City combines Romeo & Juliet with two male leads and elements of The Little Mermaid.

5) Changing Perspective

You could shift the perspective to a side character or even someone entirely fabricated.

The movie Rosaline is Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet but from the perspective of a character that never actually appears in the play itself. Sure, Rosaline is mentioned, but she never actually sets foot on stage during the course of the tragedy and the movie itself is a comedy.

Whether you choose to use Shakespeare as the basis for your retelling, Reader, or something else in the public domain, I hope these examples have helped get you one step closer to The end.

Your cohort in storytelling,

Kat Vancil


PS 👉 Does the idea of trying to summarize your 100K fantasy tome make you cringe, Reader? Maybe fill you will dread? Or even make you consider writing a whole new book to avoid writing marketing copy for the one you just finished?

You’re in luck! I’m putting together an easy-to-follow mini-course to take the pain out of writing those book descriptions for your sales page and website.

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I’m Kat! Professional Storyteller & Neurodivergent Creative

Here to help you vanquish those story construction obstacles, slay that imposter syndrome clawing at the back of your brain & stomp boredom flat with heart-pounding Boys Love fiction. Join the Saga and choose your inbox obsession, whether it’s helpful advice to get your writing unstuck or an episode of my weekly Boys Love Fantasy series to devour during your coffee break.

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