The Magic of Fairy Tale Retellings

Source: Pixabay

I’ve been thinking a bit about why we love fairy tale romances. The classics tend to have that same general vibe. Girl meets boy, obstacle appears, boy and girl overcome obstacle and they live happily ever after.

At least, the fairy tales that seem to stand the test of time seem to have that rhythm. From Snow White to Cinderella, to Sleeping Beauty to Beauty and the Beast to Rapunzel. They all give you that instant love and happy ever after.

Interestingly, the classic tales tend to be short and look primarily at the obstacles. The falling in love part is kind of glossed over. You sort of have to make it up in your head why the couple fell in love. What do they see in each other that makes them happy with each other? The key part is that you know they end up HEA, so something really awesome must have happened to connect them.

I think that’s one reason fairy tale retellings are popular. Because the original tales gave so little character development and reason behind these great love stories, it’s fun to make up the why behind what was happening.

I remember when I was writing The Princess, the Pea, and the Night of Passion , that I had to really think about what that story would entail because the original had so few details. There was little to be said about the prince and princess involved in the original. The key obstacle–the queen who was determined that only bloodlines and titles mattered–was the primary focus. And then as you look at the story, you realize just how boorish this princess is. What person of any manners or breeding complains incessantly about the room their host provided them? The story only works if this princess is the worst type of princess ever–rude to the point of insulting another sovereign’s accommodations.

Yet, we totally remember the tale, because this real princess and the prince do marry and live HEA. All because she’s a complainer. The real marriage that would have been would likely have been miserable:

Prince: How is breakfast?

Princess: The porridge was too hot, the coffee is too cold, my tooth hurts, and there’s a stain on the table cloth.

Yeah, not fun. Though the fairy tale tells us it all works out. Because maybe the two are just perfect.

Prince: Yeah, same here. We should get better servants. We’re too good for a garbage breakfast like this.

Princess: Indeed we are.

And though perfect, that wouldn’t have been kind of miserable as a reader. I enjoyed creating characters who were likable in my version of the Princess and the Pea. I loved Adara and her story of running from a life where she felt trapped. The idea that she wasn’t dressed like a princess because she was incognito due to being on the run seemed the perfect segue into this framework of the original tale.

I also had fun actually having the prince and the princess get to know each other, both as people and in a more intimate fashion. And having the Queen overhear the princess’ “complaints” rather than having the rudest princess on the planet was a lot more fun, too.

So, what’s been a favorite fairy tale retelling you’ve seen? And what did you like about it? Share in the comments.

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