Why use characters and stories from the past?

Category: Author process
We tell stories to make sense of the human condition, and we keep doing that because we haven’t yet figured it out.
Retelling stories is as old as the hills. West Side Story is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet. A Thousand Acres is a retelling of King Lear. Some people claim there are only twenty possible basic plots, and everything is a retelling of something else. We tell stories to make sense of the human condition, and we keep doing that because we haven’t yet figured it out. Stories — telling them, listening to them — seem to be an important part of the human psyche.

As far as the characters are concerned, some  are brought to life by a particular author with such stunning success that they outlive their creator. Hawkeye is one such character — so many people have been compelled to bring him back to life in one way or another. The Man of La Mancha is another — the underdog, always fighting windmills. He can be found in a hundred stories, under different names, in different places and at different times. I took some characters who mean a great deal to me to see what I could do with them; I invented others of my own, but even those owe a debt to all the stories that came before.

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