Fairy Tales and Romance

cinderella.jpgLong before I could read, back when I was knee high to a grasshopper, I loved listening to fairy tales that someone read to me. It was more than entertainment. I learned to savor good overcoming evil and basked in the knowledge that deep personal trials reap huge reward. I was fascinated by Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzul, Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, and the Ugly Duckling. I never got tired of hearing handsome-prince.jpgthem and to this day I’m still a sucker for those kind of stories. The prince or princess always endured some horrible tragedy to get the person of their dreams in the end. Like Cinderella, they were often the underdogs. And sometimes they might’ve been ugly. Remember the princess who kissed the frogs until one magically turned into a handsome prince?

Do some of these sound like a romance?

Actually, a lot of romance stories are based on fairy tales. The basic reason for that is the premise that love has to be tested to know if it’s real. Our characters have to prove what’s in their hearts by going through a series of hardships (normally the magic of threes) to reach the prize or their goal. And in some cases, they have to learn to trust what they feel by sometimes losing the thing they value most only to find it again. It’s strange that we don’t often recognize a precious treasure until we lose it.

snow-white.jpgCinderella had to bear the brunt of taunts and meanness to overcome and get the prince. The Beast had to show the Beauty that he had a pure heart capable of great love. And she had to learn that what’s on the inside is more important than the physical. The Ugly Duckling had to believe he was worth something to someone and looked until he found the place where he belonged.

In fiction as in real life we all search for a place to fit in and feel at home. The hardened gunslinger with an aching heart searches for that one place where he’ll find acceptance and love with a special woman. 

One author springs to mind who really portrays the Cinderella story. That’s Jodi Thomas. She writes great heroines with older sisters who pass her around, each one desperately trying to get her married off so they can be rid of the responsibility. The older sisters are always impatient and usually scorn the heroine. She’s often mistreated and sometimes a little plain but possesses a gentle loving spirit. That’s what Jodi’s story in Give Me a Texan is about and it’s a humdinger. One thing for sure, Cinderella heroines always end up with the handsome prince and live happily every after.

My work in progress is a beauty and beast tale. She’s very pretty. He’s been disfigured in an accident and thinks no one will ever want him. His life is over. It has its own built in conflict and maybe by the time I’m finished, it’ll even tug at your heartstrings.

The best stories I think are ones where perfection is seemingly as far from possible as jumping up to kiss the moon. Those are the page-turners. Even though we know the guy will get the girl (or vice versa) in the end, we want to know what he has to go through in order for it to happen. And we want to root for him every step of the way. 

What are your thoughts about fairy tales? Can you see them in our romance stories? And if you have a favorite fairy tale romance, share it with us.

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Here in the Texas Panhandle, we do love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson and jeans that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!
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21 thoughts on “Fairy Tales and Romance”

  1. Oh, I absolutely see fairytales in romance.
    Like you, I grew up with them. I loved them and I think that it’s a natural transition for young girls to move from reading classic fairytales to reading romance novels. Both have a major key ingredient- the happily ever after.

    If you grew up on HEAs, you expect it in romance novels. You long to see a couple fight their way through all the conflicts that stand in their way of being together. You rejoice in their triumph and cheer when they finally get the HEA.

    If I want disappointment I’ll read horror or thrillers that don’t “promise” me a happily ever after.

  2. Morning, Taryn! I think as writers we can always find a plot when we turn to fairy tales. They provide an amazing diagram, complete with conflict and villians. All we have to do is throw in a witch or two to foul things up. Have you ever used a fairy tale model for any of your stories? I’m curious.

    Thanks so much for stopping by! 🙂

  3. The thing I’ve learned to love…influenced by being a writer…is the Black Moment and fairy tales do them so well.
    Jafar is an all powerful wizard. Jasmine is enslaved. Aladdin is cast into the far away icy lands … with a tower on top of him.

    The Beast is dead, the last flower petal has fallen.

    The Little Mermaid is…was she lunch or what? It’s been awhile since I saw that one.

    Anyway, a normal viewer hates the black moment when all is lost…but of course the victory is all the sweeter. But an author learns to think, nice work. Total disaster. YAY!

  4. I had a book of “Fifty Fairy Tales” as a little girl and it was like my Bible. I still love those tales. We’re Disneymaniacs in this house. Every year we still get our young-adult daughter a Snow White trinket of some kind in her Christmas stocking. And of course I need to mention the current hit, Enchanted. It’s adorabale. As always, a wonderfully enjoyable post, Linda.

  5. Mary, you’re so right about those black moments. And boy, can they be black! I love being on the edge of my seat, wanting to see what’s going to happen next. Some movies do fairy tale stories really well. How about “Enchantment” I think it was called with Patrick Dempsey (Dr. McDreamy?) Then there was Pretty Woman and Maid in Manhattan that I can think of right off. I’m sure there’s a lot more.

    Have a great day and plot a really, really good black moment! 🙂

  6. Tanya, you took the words right out my mouth. I thought that movie was called “Enchanted.” Glad to see my memory is still working, even if it is sporadic. lol Love it that you still give your grown up daughter a Snow White trinket in her stocking! That’s so sweet. Just proves we never get too old to be kids. We should do that more often, let the kid in us come out to play. 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I do enjoy your comments.

  7. Hi Linda,
    I loved fairy tales growing up. Both my daughter and son love them too. We had one big book, a complilation of fairy tales that they enjoyed. And it’s true, often the premises of our romances stem from fairy tales. I know I’ve done it a time or two. Loved the pics you posted!!

  8. Tanya, Enchanted or Enchantment, whichever it is, it’s still a great fairy tale movie. Oh, I thought of another author too who wrote the best Cinderella stories–Kathleen Woodiwiss. Her “Flame and the Flower” was wonderful. And I think she wrote a Beauty and Beast story too. Another author of story tale romances is Pamela Morsi’s historicals. Her “Garters” was one that springs to mind.

  9. Charlene, thank you for the compliment about the pictures. I love the clothes. Glad your children grew up with fairy tales too. They really do a lot more than entertain. They teach lessons and show our kids that anything is possible.

    I’m wondering if you intentionally set out to write a romance stemming from a fairy tale or if it just happened? I think a lot of times we do it subconsciously and don’t even realize until later after we finish the story.

    Have a great day! I was going to tell you to stay warm but it probably is where you are. Not so in Texas. It’s definitely fire-hugging weather today. 🙂

  10. I didn’t grow up with fairy tales per se. I listened to my Dad read Bambi, and Treasure Island. I learned to read when I was 5 and picked up my Dad’s westerns. Had to ask what some of the words meant.
    I love todays romance books that have HEA’s.

  11. I’m not sure if I have used fairy tales for any of mine so far. I probably have, but if so it’s not obvious. At the moment I can’t seem to pin down any specific fairy tales they might be modeled after.

    I have one that has a beauty and the beast feel to it that I’m going to be writing as part of the contemporary series I’m working on now.

    I have a runway model who’s scarred and almost disabled by a car accident. Of course she’s bitter and angry, her livelihood stolen by the accident. She has lived her life up until the accident blind to the fact that beauty comes from the inside instead of the outside. With the help of her slightly scarred, but very handsome physical therapist, she learns to look beneath the surface to find love doesn’t always have a perfect outer package. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.

    Right now I’m working on the first of the four in this series.

  12. Hi Estella, glad you could stop by! Thank you for joining in the discussion. Bambi and Treasure Island are really good stories. And they’re fairy tales, just a longer version. But what kid doesn’t dream of finding pirate treasure? I used to daydream of finding a chestful of buried gold coins. Shoot, I’d still love to! Such fun.

    Had to laugh when you told me about reading your dad’s westerns at the tender age of five. You’re such an amazement! Talk about a western fan. 🙂 You’re certainly committed.

  13. Hi again, Taryn! Glad you stopped back to discuss fairy tales some more. You’re always welcome. Yep, I’d say the story that’s part of your contemporary series is definitely a Beauty and the Beast kind of story but in reverse. It’s basically the same premise. Love that concept. There’s something about a scarred character who is so wounded inside. They’re afraid to trust and afraid to let themselves feel because they might be rejected or scorned. Lots of emotion in those stories.

  14. Your Beauty and the Beast story sounds wonderful, Linda. Fairy tales have survived for a good reason. Other classic stories have inspired some great romances as well. How many romances, for example, have been molded on the Romeo and Juliet theme?

  15. What a wonderful post. I had never connected fairy tales to the romance stories, but yeah it is true.

    Hannah Howell wrote a great beauty and the beast story in fact I think that was the name of the book.

  16. Interesting subject, Linda. Sometimes I think writers don’t realize they are writing a fairy tale plot because it’s coming from a different angle. I love fairy tales and the fact they leave you believing in the good in the world…what a great thread. I believe I’ll go to bed tonight, thinking about a fairy tale. Bet I’ll sleep really good. Phyliss

  17. Charlene, I think it’s neat that you patterned some of your romances after fairy tales and classic movies. No wonder you’re such an amazing writer. Bodine’s Bounty was one of the best western romances I’ve read this year.

    Elizabeth, I’d forgotten about Romeo and Juliet. Yes, a lot of romances have used that story for their plot. But, it’s timeless, just like the fairy tales.

  18. Phyliss, I’m glad you posted a comment. Thank you for taking the time. I know how busy you are. Yeah, I think the reality that we’ve written a fairy tale romance can take us completely by surprise sometimes. You’re probably right about it coming at us from a different angle. And like you, I’m a hopeless romantic that wants to believe in good overcoming evil and we can triumph over adversity if we don’t give up. There’s lessons for us in fairy tales. 🙂

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