Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Once Upon a Time

I've really enjoyed the new TV series "Once Upon a Time." The premise of the show is basically this: the fairytale world has been trapped by the evil queen (of Snow White's story) into the town of modern-day Storybrooke, Maine. No one remembers who they are. Before the curse took its effect, however, Snow White managed to send her daughter Emma into the "real" world, where she's grown up in foster care and now works as a bailer.

The only one who knows the truth is a boy named Henry, Emma's birth son, and adopted son of the evil witch. Emma is the only one who can break the curse, if Henry can ever convince her it exists.

The show takes a lot of twists on fairytales, and even introduces new stories such as how Jiminy Cricket actually became a cricket. (Great episode, even if the motivation for the guy staying with his parents was more or less nonexistent.)

I absolutely love Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (Cinderella tale) and Daughter of the Forest* by Juliet Marillier (Seven Swans tale), but I've never written a twisted fairytale novel myself (unless you count TDSF, though Chicken Little is more of a fable). This show gets me thinking about them. If I had to start a book with the cliched "Once upon a time," what would my story be?

I recall being at a writing conference once (probably LTUE) and jotting down an idea regarding Little Red Riding Hood, but I can't remember what it is, now. Have to filter through all my little story notebooks to find it.

Have you ever written or wanted to write a story based off a fairytale? Read one you just couldn't put down? What fairytales do you think have been left out of the circle, or overused? (Cinderella has been done to death, we can all agree on that...)

*If you haven't read this book, you need to. Right now.


  1. I'm loving Once Upon a Time, even if the cheesiness sometimes makes me snicker, and if the occasionally atrocious green-screen work makes me laugh out loud.

    I'd love to read a good retelling of "White Cat," as it's one of my favorites (really I just love animal bride/bridegroom stories that involve death, blood, and mutilation). I tried to write that novel-length retelling, but I got stuck ironing out a plot hole and instead wrote a chapter in which I killed everyone off. It was easier, and I was frustrated with the shabby work I'd done.

    It WAS at LTUE that you came up with the Little Red Riding Hood idea. It was during the activity portion of my presentation in 2010 (unless you're talking about another time you did the same thing). I can't remember what your idea was, though. Heck, I can't even remember the motif elements I gave you to work with.

    1. Holly Black has a retelling of White Cat. Just thought I'd sneak in and say.

  2. I'm going to go get Daughter of the Forest right now! I needed a new book to read. I love fairy tales and am LOVING Once Upon a Time right now too. I just read Entwined (BYU grad!) and liked it.

  3. Yeah, there's a lot going against Once Upon A Time--but I still watch it faithfully. *amused* The actors all believe in what they're doing, and that sells it for me.

    My current novel is a retelling of Rapunzel mixed with Jason and the Argonauts. It's prequel will be a retelling of Cupid & Psyche. I started the novel before Disney announced their Tangled project, but before that Rapunzel had been rarely done. Oh, well!

  4. I still have to catch the show...once it makes it to Netflix :-)

    The closest thing to a fairy tale twist I did was for the Writers Platform Building Campaign. I did a flash fiction of Cinderella's evil stepsisters leaving the wedding, finding the fairy godmother, stealing her wand and making their way to Snow White to banish the queen to live in her gilded mirror. The stepsisters reigned in their own happily every after.

    Have there been any Thumbelina remakes?

  5. I watch Once Upon a Time, too, and am also enjoying it so far. You might also want to check out Grimm, another show on right now; it's a darker take on fairytales mixed with some police procedural.

    As for writing my own fairytale, at one time I wanted to write a futuristic twist on Beauty & the Beast where the Beast was a scientist who ended up getting his soul/consciousness stuck in a type of cyborg machine in a (selfish) attempt to live forever. That's about as far as I got in the planning stages. xD I was influenced by this picture.

    OH! And as for really excellent fairytale-based fiction, I'd recommend checking out "The Goose Girl" by Shannon Hale. Her magic system is unique and lovely in its way, plus it's a good story, too. There's sequels to the book, but that one was the one I liked the most.