If you’ve met me in person, it’ll only take you a few minutes to realize that I’m obsessed with fairy tales. I read them, write retellings, I do bilingual story time once a month and what do I read to the kids? Fairy Tales! Duh. Like I would do anything else.
Seriously, I’ve done just about everything to these fairy tale princesses. I’ve written erotic fairy tales, fairy tale poems, The Frost Series is heavily inspired by fairy tales (YA fantasy), my new comic book Zombie Ever After is also inspired by fairy tales. Not everything I write is inspired by fairy tales, if you look at my other books you’ll see that I do come up with my own original ideas. The Jackets, Nina, Morgan, Decode (current WIP), and Zoe’s Tears (another WIP). But the one thing that makes me happier than anything is playing with fairy tales. And yes, I do mean playing, for me it’s like dress up. I may not be wearing a tiara (at least not literally) but I love pretending that I’m these characters or at least going along for the ride.
Sometimes I’ll reread certain stories just to refresh my memory. I love being able to take a story that was originally a few pages long and turn it into a whole entire novel. I love discovering who these characters are. What are their likes, dislikes, favorite color. What are they afraid of? What is their hearts desire? Would they go left or right? Why? Why not? First kiss? Last kiss? Etc. I wanna know. I’m curious. And it’s that curiosity that fuels my engine. I’m just nosy that way.
Anyway I decided to write a blog post because my author friend (and fellow Musa Publishing author) Dean Pace-Frech posted this on my page:
Can I just say, writing fairy tales is harder than I thought! Any suggestions?
So here are a few tips. I’m not an expert, okay. The only person I would consider an expert in the whole fairy tale retelling genre is Gregory Maguire and I think he’s busy doing other awesome stuff. Probably coming up with another awesome fairy tale retelling that I can’t wait to read in one sitting.
1. Read the original story. Think about why you love this particular story.
2. What elements do you want to explore? Ask yourself what you want to know more about and try to come up with your own answer.
3. Stay true to some elements of the story. For example, in Zombie Ever After, I have a character modeled after Beauty and the Beast. Beauty is still a beautiful scientist but her boyfriend is a zombie. See what I did there? Kind of like that. But you can make this work in any genre.
4. You can change it up a bit. People want to read something new and unique. Make sure you tell this story in your own voice with your own style of writing whichever one that is. Add a few twists and turns that no one will see coming.
5. Names are important. In Glass Frost, Bianca visits the remaining dwarves. They’re names aren’t based on the Disney version. I try to stick to the original story as much as possible. And in the original story the dwarves weren’t given names. So put some thought into that. For example, Bianca’s full name is Bianca Silver Frost. I wanted to find a way to incorporate Snow White into it. Yes, I know, it takes some twists here and there in terms of translations but it works. 😉
6. If there’s a prince in the story, please make him interesting. The one thing I hate seeing is a cardboard, transparent prince. Give him some quirk, something that makes him interesting. This is why I decided to make Prince Ferdinand a little goofy, and carefree. I wanted to see the opposite of the dashing prince that always saves the day.
7. Have fun. Readers will know right off the bat when you’re trying too hard. Why do you think I write so many fairy tale retellings? Because it’s the most fun I can have as an adult without leaving my house. Don’t forget I’m a stay at home mom to two very rambunctious little boys. My writing is my only means of escape. Why would I waste my happy fun time doing something that’s not fun?
Anyway feel free to chime in. What are your favorite fairy tale retellings? Why? What made you pick up that particular book and read it from cover to cover?