So, maybe you’re thinking “I’d really like to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but I don’t have a clue what to write.”
The solution is surprisingly simple. You don’t have to pull a story out of thin air. Consider these sources of endless inspiration: fairy tales, Shakespeare, pastiche and fan fiction.
Putting a modern twist on a classic fairy tale is a great way to use an existing plot and characters to tell a fresh story. The popularity of television’s “Once Upon a Time” and “Grimm” attests to a wide audience eager for these stories.
The same is true for Shakespeare’s plays. For example, the movie, “10 Things I Hate About You” is a retelling of “The Taming of the Shrew.” The musical “West Side Story” replaces Verona with New York City and places Romeo and Juliet in rival gangs.
If fairy tales and the Bard don’t appeal to you, consider writing pastiche from public domain works. “Pride and Prejudice,” “Dracula” and Sherlock Holmes have been adapted countless times in a wide variety of genres and media. For that reason, you might want to find a less familiar, but equally powerful story to adapt. For example, the TV series “Revenge” is based on “The Count of Monte Cristo.”
Still not inspired? You may want to try your hand at fan fiction. This can be especially helpful for new writers. Working with familiar characters can help spread your wings and inspire you to create your own characters and situations. While you can’t legally publish this work or be paid for it, you can post it to fan fiction websites, where readers are eager for novel length works.
You can rewrite stories to fit almost any genre. “Something Rotten” by Alan M. Gratz turns “Hamlet” into a modern murder mystery set in the town of Denmark, Tennessee. “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer is a science fiction retelling of “Cinderella.”
Find a story or play that strongly appeals to you. This is key. You won’t sustain enough creative energy to write a novel if the original story doesn’t excite and engage you.
Check out these links for free resources on Shakespeare, fairy tales, public domain works and fan fiction.