Miss Snark,

So I have this famous old classic (out of copyright) novel, and I'm "editing" it to change the world in which the novel is set without changing anything else in the novel.

So it's an entirely new book, and exactly the same book--but is it really the same genre as the original? Is it fiction or nonfiction? What genre is my book?

Yours Sinsnarkly,


I'm really praying this is fiction...on so very many levels.

*Illumination here


Battlerocker said...

Wow. That’s bad.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I don't wish to be rude. We princesses have to be in a snit to be rude. I'm quite calm at the moment. ... But, don't you have any imagination? Can't you write your own novel?

Don't you see some ethical problems with this? Even my goat wouldn't do this, and he's brainless mostly.


Molly said...

"A Tale of Two Spaceports?"

"The Scarlet Pictogram?"

"Catcher in the GMO Cereal Crops?" (Yes, I know that one's still copyright-protected.)


blaironaleash said...

Someone being facetious, without being funny. High on the list of serious crimes and misdemeanours, I think.

greymaiden said...

I wouldn't say that's all that unusual. Think "10 Things I Hate About You," a modern adaptation of an old story. How about Henry VIII set IN SPACE WITH BATTLESHIPS! Now that would be cool. Either way though, I think the story would be classified as fiction.

Bill E. Goat said...

What do you mean brainless?
I have a brain. It's right here.
Wait..I think that's a rock.
I know it's here someplace.

word verificaiton: ycyes

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Hey! That FAKE Bill E. Goat should refrain from posting with my name! You're not permitted to use my intellectual property. I'm going to turn this over to my attorneys, Cèvre, Ziege and Capra. And I'm complaing to the RSCPA!

William Edward Goat, VII

Bill E. Goat Ate Ate Ate said...

Royal Society for Chocolate-Partial Animals!!!


Anonymous said...

Okay, I agree it sounds dreadful.

But to be fair, A Thousand Acres is King Lear set on a farm, West Side Story is Romeo & Juliet set among warring gangs in 20th century NYC, The Hours makes liberal use of Mrs. Dalloway, etc., etc. Whether you're updating or reimagining or just flat-out stealing from other works, it ain't like it hasn't been done before, often to great (and artistically sound) effect.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I'm now close to a really big and deeply felt snit. Just thought you should know. ...

Inkwolf said...

Personally, I'd like to rewrite some of my favorite old out-of-print books, just to get them back in print.

Hmmm, The Casting Away of Mrs. Lecks & Mrs. Aleshine in Middle Earth...

kis said...

Wasn't there someone who was flogging their formula for writing a bestseller, and it was this exact thing? Find a popular book from long-enough ago that it won't set off alarms, then rewrite the names and places? Although they didn't go so far as to say, "copy the rest word for word."

KillerYapp said...

You know Bill E. Goat loves you best

Lauren said...

I love this! Anna Karenina set in Beverly Hills. The only problem is that the affair wouldn't raise anyone's eyebrows. And the train station isn't nearby.

Jean said...

I've been re-reading 1984, and I'm in tune with the whole fiction/non-fiction question.

Ken Boy said...

"It takes place during the Altairian Civil War. The heroine's name is Violette O'Neill, and she's in love with this guy who's going to marry his cousin . . ."

Dave Kuzminski said...

Mere word substitution which definitely stands little chance of succeeding since the style of writing has changed for the most part since the original now-out-of-copyright classic was written. At this point, the individual proposing this is in danger of compromising his chances of being known as a real writer in order to become the substandard Weird Al Yankovic equivalent of literature because at least Weird Al makes up new lyrics to the tunes he parodies.

Sure you can become popular briefly for doing it the first time, but then others will jump on the band wagon and you'll be forgotten faster than your train arrived because you won't have really produced anything of substance or value.

The Rejected Writer said...

So then my story about the guy who does miracles and walks on water relocated to Central Park isn't such a good rewrite? I even included a miracle for MS and KY in it. Huh. I figured it'd have been a smash hit.

Brady Westwater said...

In the art world that kind of copying/altering of even living artists is not uncommon and can often be quite brilliant... in the right hands.

Somehow, though... these don't seem to be the right hands.

December Quinn said...

See The Blue Bicycle, Ken Boy, which set GWTW in WWII FRance and was such a blatant rip-off that the Mitchell estate sued and won.

jad231 said...

How Green Was My Alley. 2006: A Discovery Odyssey. Love in the Time of Bird Flu. The Sun Also Rose Yesterday. Great Expectations for My Mutual Fund (Nasdaq ticker symbol: PIP). Alice's Adventures at the Wonderland T-Station. The Digital Photograph of Dorian Gray. Uncle Tom's Taiwanese Sweatshop. A Monorail Named Desire. The Scarlet Wingding Font.

archer said...

Miss Snark and I had a bit of a go-round on the subject last winter, in the comments to Crapometer 69. (Yes, Your Stilettoness--it was I--I!) I post the link because her comments are quite useful and not as some cheap, invidious attempt to shine by her reflected limelight.

Anonymous said...

The Wizard of Sheboygan

Young AwesomeDude! Brown

The Sixth Sense and Sensibility

Ho Chatterly's Totally Pimped-out Trick

Yes, yes. I will go wait in the New Release aisle at Books-a-million immediately.

HawkOwl said...

Rejected Writer - I'm doing that one too! Let's compare notes!

Jared Defife - To think that How Green was my Valley was my favourite novel from grades 9 through 11 (the year I discovered The Lord of the Rings) and I had given up looking for it! Thanks for reminding me - I'm off to Amazon immediately.

BuffySquirrel said...

`Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents,' grumbled Jo, lying on the faux foxfur rug.

`It's so dreadful to be poor!' sighed Meg, looking down at her old trainers.

`I don't think it's fair for some girls to have iPods and PlayStations, and other girls nothing at all,' added little Amy, with an injured sniff.

`We've got father and mother and each other,' said Beth, contentedly, from her corner.

The four young faces on which the flickering light from the HDTV shone brightened at the cheerful words, but darkened again as Jo said sadly:

`We haven't got father, and shall not have him for a long time.' She didn't say `perhaps never', but each silently added it, thinking of father far away in Iraq.

Nobody spoke for a minute; then Meg said in an altered tone:

`You know the reason mother proposed not having any presents this Christmas was because it is going to be a hard winter for everyone; and she thinks we ought not to spend money for pleasure when our men are suffering so in the army. We can't do much, but we can make our little sacrifices, and ought to do it gladly. But I am afraid I don't'; and Meg shook her head, and she thought regretfully of all the DVDs she wanted.

`But I don't think the little we should spend would do any good. We've each got a dollar, and the army wouldn't be much helped by our giving that. I agree not to expect anything from mother or you, but I do want to buy The Bitch Posse for myself; I've wanted it so long,' said Jo, who was a bookworm.

`I planned to spend mine on new music for my iPod,' said Beth, with a little sigh, which no one heard but the DVD player and cable box.

`I shall get a nice USB drawing tablet; I really need it,' said Amy, decidedly.

`Mother didn't say anything about our money, and she won't wish us to give up everything. Let's each buy what we want, and have a little fun; I'm sure we work hard enough to earn it,' cried Jo, examining the heels of her shoes in a gentlemanly manner.

`I know I do - forcing Ritalin down those tiresome children nearly all day when I am longing to enjoy myself at home,' began Meg, in the complaining tone again.

`You don't have half such a hard time as I do,' said Jo. `How would you like to be shut up for hours with a nervous, fussy old lady, who keeps you trotting, is never satisfied, and worries you till you're ready to fly out of the window or cry?'

`It's naughty to fret; but I do think loading the dishwasher and programming the robot cleaner is the worst work in the world. It makes me cross; and my hands get so stiff, I can't practice well at all'; and Beth looked at her rough hands with a sigh that anyone could hear that time.

`I don't believe any of you suffer as I do.' cried Amy; `for you don't have to go to school with impertinent girls, who plague you if you haven't heard the latest from ColdPlay, and laugh at your non-designer clothes, and label your father if he isn't rich, and insult you when your nose isn't nice.'

`If you mean libel, I'd say so, and not talk about labels, as if papa was a bootleg DVD,' advised Jo, laughing.

`I know what I mean, and you needn't be satirical about it. It's proper to use good words, and improve your vocabulary,' returned Amy, with dignity.

Sue said...

Hmm, Buffysquirrel, I am amazed at how well that translates to our times. (And who said writing styles aren't eternal?)

wiyqjppl, for those who care.

perhaps, not: dbymaz

Stacy said...

I won't make this a long post, because this is one of my soapbox topics, and I don't want to be boorish. But haven't you all noticed how common this is these days? This shouldn't have even raised an eyebrow on this blog. And as brady westwater says, in the hands of someone with actual talent and ability, it can be brilliant.

The only problem is that people with no talent and little ability will want to take the shortcut - aptly demonstrated by buffysquirrel. Originality and creativity? Pfbt!

The joke is that educated folk like me and others around here will be appalled, I tell you, appalled at the nerve, the sheer nerve, while a 14-year-old reading her brand new copy of Little Women Redux with "Adaptation of" buried in the prelims that nobody but the editor ever reads will think - those girls are just like me - this is a cool book!

Did I get on the soapbox? I think I blanked out for a minute.