Fairy tales, no matter how young or old you are, captivate an audience. The 'Once Upon A Time' beginnings told you some moral and dilemma would unfold. Readers love and continue to enjoy these tales, disappointed when they come to "and they lived happily ever after" part.
But how many writers out there have considered or used an outline from a fairy tale to come up with your own storylines? For example, let's take The Three Little Pigs:
3 little pigs = 3 upcoming musicians
wolf = their agent who swindles them at some point of their earnings
straw hut = their small apartment
brick house = their mansion when they make it big
You've now used a fairy tale to come up with your own storyline by altering the characters, their setting, and added a motive for a conflict with the antagonist-the agent. Let's dig deeper.
The three musicians are childhood friends or brothers a la 'three pig' theme. They've been playing as a band since high school. During college an agent signs them up and takes them on a tour. The boys are inexperienced in finances and trust their agent explicitly. During the story, however, seeds are dropped that this agent is a bit on the shady side prompting the readers to wait for the bomb to drop eventually on the boys. Although the readers have an inkling what's going to happen, the questions keeping them posted to the book are:
- How will the boys react?
- What will they do?
- What's going to happen to the agent?
- What's going to happen to their musical careers?
- Will the band ever make it?
Readers love drama, action, happenings that take protagonists to a lower level of no return, especially when they can identify with a crisis relevant to their own life. That's not to say we need to be musicians to understand the characters plight, but as general people we've had someone who may have disappointed us in one way or the other. When you can connect a social issue or relevant emotional event to a reader, enough so they can place themselves in your character's shoes, then they are drawn deeper into your story world.
Using the same fairy tale above, you can come up with literally tons of good storylines to expand and use.
*-3 spinsters on a road trip to get away from the stress of work
-1 man comes into their lives
-1 cheap hotel fling with one of them causes a rift between the ladies
-1 secret the man is guarding will have these women on the run
*3 lawyers defending 3 men for the same crime
-1 lawyer bribes a witness to lie for his client
-1 house holds the key to this crime
-1 twist near the end will have the witness charged with the crime
As you can see from the examples above, one simple fairy tale has now the potential for three different storylines, characters, and settings.
So...Once upon a time when I had nothing to write about, I sat down and remembered my childhood fairy tales...
And my page filled with story ideas...
And my Muse lived happily ever after.
Author's Bio: Lea Schizas is an award-winning author and editor, Submissions Editor for Red Rose Publishing, and founder of two Writer's Digest Top Writing Sites since 2004 and recipients of several Predators and Editors awards, The MuseItUp Club and Apollo's Lyre. She is the author of the Young Adult paranormal/thriller "Doorman's Creek", and the middle grade novel, "Bubba and Giganto: Odds Against Us." She is also the editor and co-author of "The Muse On Writing" a writer's reference book, and the fantasy novel "Aleatory's Junction".
Lea Schizas along with Carolyn Howard-Johnson are founders of the annual Muse Online Writers Conference where over 2000 Attendees and Presenters take part each year.