Saturday, 7 February 2015

50 Shades of Rewrites - Alternative Genre Treatments

Everyone on Facebook lately seems to be talking about these books:

I've read a lot of vicious criticism, both of the books themselves and of the relationship they evidently portray. I have to say 'evidently', for I've not read a line of any of them myself. My friend Simone offered me her paperback copies, but I declined, relying on the unanimous statements of practically everyone I know, both writers and non-writers, that they are rubbish. Given that, and given my compulsive behaviour which means that once I start reading a book I have to finish it no matter how awful it is, I thought it was safer to leave them alone.

I did, however read THIS ARTICLE, which provides a wonderfully detailed synopsis of the books, obviating any incumbency I might have felt to sacrifice myself on the altar of research.

Rambling Curl's entertaining and informative article focussed on the relationship portrayed in the books. My focus is more literary. It seems to me that there are many ways in which Ms James could rewrite this book and improve it, just in case critical acclaim is more important to her than enormous amounts of money. Or, for that matter, how anyone else could rewrite it. A lot of what I'm seeing in the Indie scene seems to be rehash after rehash of the same tired old themes, and here's one that we already know sells. If it's true, as so many people say, that James lifted the whole thing from a fan-fiction site, I don't suppose she will mind if someone else coat-tails along on her concept.

1. Literary fiction.

In this version, the book could basically portray the same events, but from the viewpoint of Christian Grey instead. It would be full of flashbacks to his abusive childhood and internal monologues about how much he hates himself and how helpless he is in the grip of his insanity. Optionally, for a left-bank intellectual twist, you could narrate the story from the point of view of his cat.

2. Comic fiction.

Make it funny. From Curl's synopsis I doubt it would be all that hard to do. Of course you'd have to strip Grey of his brooding dignity, and you'd really need to remove scenes where his victim actually gets hurt. Over against that, you'd be free to introduce all kinds of silly crap that doesn't happen in real life. (Caveat - you actually have to be able to write to do this one).

3. Epic poetry.

Pick a verse form, and transpose the entire book into it. Various verse forms are suitable for this. My personal favourite is the Spenserian Stanza, but that's rather difficult. If you haven't written this kind of thing before, the Beowulf model might be a better choice.

4. Historical Fiction.

Choose some period of history, and set the whole thing in it. A downside of this is that it is a hell of a lot of work to write historical fiction. If you already know an historical period really well, that would be a good starting point.

5. Fantasy

Make Christian Grey a Dark Lord. Make Ana an Elven Princess. Add some swords and an ancient evil stirring beneath a mountain, and you're good to go.

6. Detective Fiction.

Start the book with Christian Grey bludgeoned to death in a locked room. Tell the rest of the story in flashbacks etc. You need a detective character. 

7. Children's Literature.

Make Christian the School Bully. Make Ana the new kid in the school. Take out all the sex bits. In this version, Christian MUST get his comeuppance, preferably in a way that results in some personal growth for Ana.

8. School Story

As above, except that it is a boarding school. Ana will have to be a boy or Christian a girl, but that hardly matters. The bullying is likely to be more psychological than physical.

9. Christian Fiction

The book can start out as normal, but Christian should be gradually redeemed by his growing Christianity. There should be a happy ending. You may choose between C and A getting married and living happily ever after, or either or both devoting themselves to a contemplative monastery/the mission field.

10. Steampunk

Set the whole thing in Victorian England. Add some random technology based on clockwork and/or steam engines. (Caveat - for this option, you need to know Victorian England and its society really well. Otherwise you will come a cropper, like Gail Carriger).

11. Suckporn (a.k.a. Paranormal Erotica)

Make Christian a vampire. You don't need to do anything else.

12. Space Opera I

Set the whole thing on a spaceship. Give Christian a wisecracking robot sidekick.

13. Space Opera II

Set it on a planet where Ana has crash landed in her spaceship. Make Christian a tribal overlord. 

14.  Science Fiction

Set the whole thing in a technologically-driven future society. Give Christian a wisecracking robot sidekick. If you're feeling really adventurous, make Ana a robot too. Be sure to include references to Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics.

15 Splatterpunk

Juice up all the bondage scenes so that instead of just raping her, Christian removes some of her body parts without anaesthetic, and/or makes extra orifices for the purpose. Be sure to describe everything very graphically. 

16 Ghost story

Make Christian a ghost. Duh.

17 Superhero Fiction

Make Christian wear a silly costume. He will need a secret lair and some henchmen. At the end, Ana must be rescued by a man wearing tights and a mask.

18 Western

Make Christian a rancher. Make Ana a virtuous widow. At the end, she should be rescued by a righteous, clean-living cowboy. Be sure to include lots of horse riding and shooting. When rewriting the sex scenes, bear in mind that everyone back then wore combinations.

19 LGBT fiction

Either make Christian a woman or make Ana a man. Duh.

20 YA Paranormal Fantasy

Make Christian a werewolf. Optionally, make Ana a werewolf too.

Alright, I lied. I've only given you 20 instead of the 50 I promised. But hey. Bored now.

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