What’s Your Favorite Fairy Tale?

Actually, I’m talking about what kind of romantic plots people enjoy most. One of my favorite writing books is Victoria Lynn Schmidt’s Story Structure Architect. In it, she goes over the traditional elements of Western fiction, then looks at the variations within different genres. It’s a helpful resource for novelists, playwrights and screenwriters alike. For romance, she divides stories into three general types of structure, based on fairy tales. (Cause like romance, fairy tales are universal. 🙂 ) She also goes more detailed plot structure under each category — as I said, the book is a valuable resource.

In the Cinderella structure, the heroine falls in love with the hero first. This emotional response makes her vulnerable to him, even if she’s strong and independent in all other areas of her life. Schmidt notes that one of the hallmarks of this particular plot is that much of the focus is on the hero’s emotions. To get an idea of this plot, read Nicole Jordan’s excellent and steamy To Tame a Dangerous Lord.

Schmidt lists the Beauty and the Beast structure next. It mirrors the previous type plot in that the hero falls in love first, which makes him the more vulnerable of the couple. The focus here is on the heroine’s growing emotional bond to him. There is a bit less rescuing by the hero in these stories and a bit more self-awareness (eventually, anyway) on the part of the heroine. Then Came You by Lisa Kleypas is a classic example.

The final structure is based on Sleeping Beauty. The hero and heroine fall in love at the same time, which gives them equal footing emotionally, although their feelings may see-saw a bit as they deal with the conflicts standing in the way of their Happy Ever After. The couple in these books recognize their feelings all right, but their mutual love faces a series struggles, internal and/or external, before they can get together. Many ‘second chance’ love stories are found in this category, or stories of already-married couples, as in Victoria Alexander’s My Wicked Little Lies.

So what kind of romances do you like best? She falls first, he falls first, or they both fall and have to work it out together? Which fairy tail describes your favorite romance ?

I’ve attempted a first with this post and added a poll! And now you can rate all my posts, too.

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9 thoughts on “What’s Your Favorite Fairy Tale?”

  1. Outside of the YA and fantasy genres, I approve most of the Sleeping Beauty/Egalitarian model (though, I do disagree that the fairy tale itself has the two characters falling in love simultaneously. The hero is the one who goes through hell to get to the sleeping princess that he has chosen, having placed her on a pedestal. When she wakes up, she has precious little choice when it comes to who she hooks up with.).

    Outside of the femnzi in me, though, I admit to having a weakness for the Beauty and Beast track, particularly when both characters are pushed together against their will, and grow to appreciate each other.

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    1. Maybe Schmidt is referring to a mutual ‘awakening’ with Sleeping Beauty? My issue with the fairy tale is more related to ‘hundred-year morning breath’ (EEW). Nice to meet another fantasy fan, too.

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      1. I always found Sleeping Beauty vaguely creepy. Just imagine, waking up in the morning to find you have a face full of slobbery Prince all over you. And how did he get in your bedroom anyway? A thousand year sleeping curse? That’s a terrible story. Guards! Guards!

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