10. Females make good villains. In many of the modern fairy tales, the villain is the evil stepmother, out to ruin the future of the pampered princess. In romance fiction, more often than not the villain ends up being male. The books where the villain is female are the ones that usually have the best unexpected twists and turns.
9. In modern fairy tales, the hero or heroine learns something vital about themselves. We're talking character arc, which is as important to romantic fiction as it is to Belle from Beauty & The Beast.
8. "Once Upon A Time" could be today, tomorrow or five-hundred years ago, depending on your interpretation. Take me to a place I don't know, describe it well and hook me, and I'll believe anything you have to tell me. As it is in fairy tales, world-building in any novel is important to making the story believable.
7. Fairy tales are not just for kids. Most modern day fiction is based, in some part, on the classic fairy tale structure of good vs. evil. Classic fairy tale story lines - Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Frog Prince - can be retold in a thousand different ways and still be as exciting as the originals. It's all in how it's done. And readers love to see the familiar redone in a brand new way. (Think: Ever After)
6. Not every princess needs to be rescued. Sometimes it's the prince who needs to be saved. Taking a classic fairy tale and turning it upside down is a new twist on an old story.
5. Popular paranormal & fantasy fiction has its roots in classic fairy tales. Elves, dwarves, magicians, werewolves, fae, goblins, witches, giants and talking animals aren't new but date back to at least the 1500's when cultures used fairy tales to explain their beliefs in witches and demons. Arabian fairy tales are recorded as far back as the 1200's. And the oldest known written fairy tales stem from Egypt c 1300 AD. Think you're writing something new and different? Think again.
4. Children's fairy tale movies are a great source of research for a writer. Say what you will about Disney movies, but the writers at Disney do a good job with internal/external conflict, character arcs and basic plots. If you haven't yet figured out story structure, watching simple fairy tales are a good way to learn.
3. Not all fairy tales end happily. And romantic fiction - depending on the genre, the series, etc. - doesn't necessarily have to end 100% happily either. Especially in series books where there's some kind of external struggle which over-arcs from one book to the next, so long as the protagonists have their own miniature-version of happily ever after, your reader will be pleased. Just don't leave them hanging.
2. Because of the HEA factor, people tend to dis romantic fiction just like they do fairy tales - for being far-fetched and unreal. Hence, the "fairy tale romance" or "fairy tale ending". Considering fairy tales are so deeply rooted in history and every culture on the planet, I now consider the romance industry's comparison to fairy tales as a compliment rather than a put-down.
1. Modern fairy tales appeal to readers for the same reason romantic fiction does - because in a world where things go wrong on a daily basis and everywhere you turn, bad things are happening, it's nice to know there's a place you can go to have the promise of the "happily ever after".
For a list of classic fairy tales including title (with link), year, author and where the tale is from, check out this link.
Wanna test your fairy tale IQ? Check out this quiz and tell us how you did.
What's your favorite fairy tale? And have you learned anything significant about writing from fairy tales?