POST FROM THE DEVIL ORDERS TAKEOUT

How Many Retellings Are Too Much? (Or, I'm obsessed with Mulan)

Retellings are the new black. Fairytales, Disney, Shakespeare ... everything is fair game. But can there be too many retellings?
How many retellings are too much?
I have far too few retellings on my shelves and far too many on my TBR.
Some stories have two million retellings, like Cinderella (Throne of Glass, Cinder, Ella Enchanted, etc.) Half the books I flail over and/or add to my TBR are retellings. Retellings are fabulous, but would too much of an awesome thing be in play here?

What's even more frightening for me personally is how many Mulan retelling ideas I have. Let me tell you, it's at least twenty. I wrote one Mulan retelling, Winner Takes All, which didn't start off a Mulan retelling but I couldn't resist. My NaNo project, Witches Black and Silver (WiBaS for short), is also a Mulan retelling.

What are the pros and cons of multiple retellings?


Pro: different spins on the same retelling.


Going back to the Cinderella examples, there's no way one might mix up Throne of Glass and Ella Enchanted. The same retelling can be interpreted in a completely different way. AU, modern retelling, sci-fi, epic fantasy, urban fantasy ... the possibilities are endless.
a whole new world aladdin gif
I can't believe this is the first Aladdin gif on the blog.
In the case of WTA and WiBaS, they're both fantasy. But WTA is more of an epic fantasy, lots of politics, a touch of steampunk mixed in. Whereas Witches Black and Silver is more of an urban fantasy, with magical Starbucks and a roadtrip across China.

Besides, as Mulan retellings, WTA focused a lot more on the joining-the-army part, while WiBaS will be more about the crossdressing and disguises and the adventure.

Con: same interpretation of a retelling.


I mean, half the Beauty and the Beast retellings will have suspiciously Stockholm-like relationships, and Sleeping Beauty has got to be about someone sleeping. It wouldn't be a retelling if major elements weren't present. And the plot/character/setting CAN turn formulaic when we have twenty retellings.

For example, the protagonists of WTA and WiBaS both leave their home for the sake of family, travel across China, and meet the emperor at the end of it. That is basically the plot of Mulan, and I'm just fretting here like WHAT IF it's actually the same book when I finish writing WiBaS for NaNo?!?
Mulan is, at any rate.

Pro: ALL the knowledge about fairytales/folktales/etc.


Fairytales and folk tales and mythology are the most common material for retellings. (Of course, Shakespeare and even historical figures have their moments now and then.) And seriously, these are so incredibly cool. Wonderful insight into human nature and just unbridled imagination.

Retellings introduce (or re-introduce) us to folklore and such. Not only do multiple retellings provide various interpretations of the same material, but there's a huge variety in the source material because of the sheer number of retellings. And so all sorts of diverse material are popping up: Mulan, of course, is Chinese, and we've seen Arabian Nights and all manner of folklore.

I also hope to write a Ye Xian retelling (called Chinese Cinderella even though we totally came up with it a millennia earlier?) someday.

(Truly, if retellings become a dead genre, I'm not sure what I'll even write. *weeps*)

Con: bored readers, maybe.


... Is this an issue? Realistically, I think it is, but if you get tired of Mulan, all I have to say is this:

So tell me, blookunity: can there be too many retellings? Will retellings be a dead genre soon? Is my Mulan obsession bugging you?


Or, do you also love Mulan? In which case, don't miss out on the translation of the original ballad made by yours truly! Join my takeout army today to download the Mulan translation!

Twitter-sized takeout:

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