I have a weighty proposition for you. One that might get me thrown out of the Halls of Writerdom as a heretic. Once this is out there, I'll be chased down with torches and pitchforks, and burned at the stake. But I know that what I am going to say, I am saying out of pure academic interest. How Mary Shelley of me.
I am about to finish 1984. Yes, the one by George Orwell. I am thoroughly enjoying it, but it's showing its age. This is a book lifted to the status of High Literature, but without that accolade, it wouldn't survive. It's a slog. Four pages to describe a room. Two paragraphs to talk about folding and unfolding hands. Adverbs sprinkled liberally throughout. According to Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition by Renni Browne and Dave King, 1984 is doing it wrong.
My theory is: if Orwell submitted 1984 to an Agent or Publisher today, it wouldn't make it.
Ditto Crime and Punishment, so get out your red pen Fyodor. You too, Charlotte. So shut up about Jane Eyre's inner torment and give us some ACTION already. That's what the readers really want. They don't want Jane's inner monologue, they want Katniss's. These guys should have used HG Wells's Time Machine and grabbed The Hunger Games to use as a guide.
Here's my project for some entrepreneuring individual: What if one of those High-Lit classics were edited for today's readers? Take something like Anna Karenina and give it a real Fault In Our Stars treatment. Make Charles Dickens read like Neil Gaiman. That's what I'm proposing. Do it maybe as a Master's thesis, or, to get really into your work, as a Doctoral Dissertation.
This is a chance to dissect Orwell, tear apart Dostoyevsky, give the Brontes the what-for, and do what should never be done: destroy classic literature for the sake of modernity. In other words, give it a real Ingsoc treatment.
Come on, you know you want to.