Updating fables is a brainstorming technique that involves taking a famous or obscure work from literature or the movies and making it contemporary.
A perfect example would be the English play, “Pygmalion.” It’s about a poor girl from the slums of London who undergoes a complete personal transformation and is taught how to be a cultured young lady. That story later became the Broadway smash play, “My Fair Lady.” And decades after that it became the box office hit film “Pretty Woman” starring Julia Roberts. All three works share the same basic plot.
Another example of this technique is the classic story “The Prince and the Pauper” which features a poor boy and a prince switching lives. The modern day interpretation of that story would be the comedy “Trading Places.” It showcases Eddie Murphy as a ghetto hustler who unwittingly is forced to switch places with a wealthy commodities broker played by Dan Ackroyd. It’s the same story only told in modern times.
And finally there’s the all time family classic “The Wizard of Oz.” In development is a project called “The Red Shoes” referring to Dorothy’s shoes that have been passed on to her granddaughter, generations ahead. Attached to play the evil witch is Whoopi Goldberg who will go to any extent to get those magic shoes back from Dorothy. Instead of taking place in Kansas and the Land of Oz, this update takes place in New York City.
- More articles by Steve Kaire
- High Concept: How to Create, Pitch and Sell to Hollywood by Steve Kaire
- Jeanne’s Screenwriting Tips: 7 Brainstorming Techniques
Get more brainstorming tips from Jeff Kitchen’s DVC,
Brainstorming with the 36 Dramatic Situation