Fairytale Code: Happily Ever After

At long last, I’m on the other wide of a rewrite deadline and I can conclude our fairytale code series.

The ending is simple. Happy.

A fairytale like story, a romance, a sisterhood, even a thriller has to end with some level of happiness and satisfaction.

What do we really learn from fairytale endings?

The boy gets the girl.

The dragon is slayed.

The castle is stormed.

Evil is defeated. Good wins.

Even in the most thrill driven stories, these elements must take place for a solid story ending and wrap up.

Cinderella is the classic happy ending. In the Disney version, Cindy and Prince marry because “the shoe fit” and boy, let’s not go down that symbolic rabbit trail, but her dreams came true because she believed.

In Snow White, the Prince’s kiss over comes evil and invokes true love.

In Die Hard, John McCain’s love for his wife “storms the castle,” defeats evil and restores his wife’s hope in him.

In The Proposal, Andrew returns to NY to tell Margaret he wants to marry her so he can “date her.”

He defeats the lie in her heart she will always be alone. His love conquers the evil of fear and love triumphs.

So, why do we need a happy ending? Or a satisfactory ending?

Because a story is about a journey! It’s about the protagonist learning something about herself, life, God, people.

It’s about coming to truth!

Think of your friends who answer all of your advice with, “Yeah but…” Isn’t it frustrating?

No one wants to read a book about a protagonist who is unwilling or unable to change.

We’ve watched those movies where the hero or heroine is the same in the end as they were in the beginning and we’re like, “Huh?”

We spend the rest of the evening discussing with our friends or spouses why the movie didn’t work or what we would’ve done differently.

To prove we like happy endings, check out these original fairytale endings. Gruesome. The Grimm brothers were indeed grim.

Disney would’ve never had such success if they’d not sweetened up the stories a bit. Especially the endings!

Stories are about conveying hope and truth.

I recently watched the ribald “Identity Thief” with Melissa McCarthy and Justin Bateman.

It is R for language and some sexual context but as the story opened, I wondered how in the world they were going to redeem Melissa’s character.

I mean, she stole the nice man’s identity. Cost him his job. Ruined his life.

She’s the perfect villain. You want to hate her. Yet all the while, I’m thinking, there’s something more to this character.

A dark wound. A lie. A fear.

As she pulled one stunt after another, I never rooted for her… until the moment in the story she revealed a piece of her heart.

And then I knew her problem and I knew the hero was just the character to help her find healing.

Then I rooted for her.

She came to truth. By the end, she’d changed. A lot. She was in fact heroic!

Even for a ribald comedy, there must be character change and development. Hats off to the writers…

What we learn from fairytales is we want a moral lesson.

We want truth.

We want a happy, sincere ending.

We want to walk away from the story feeling better about ourselves and our lives.

***

Endings Reflect the Beginning

How should you craft your ending? Well, how does your story begin?

All endings MUST reflect the beginning.

Reuse your setting. Reuse prose and dialog.

If the beginning is full of doubts about life, the ending is full of vision and hope about life.

In Cinderella the opening shows her dreaming, gazing out her window toward the castle.

In the end, she’s going to live in that castle.

In The Proposal we see a very uptight Margaret clinging to her very orderly life. In the end we see a very uptight Margaret opening to love and change.

Here’s how I recently ended book two in the royal wedding series, Princess Ever After.

The opening paragraphs:

She’d found bliss. Perhaps even true love. Behind the wheel of a ’71 Dodge Challenger restored to Slant 6 perfection.

Fishtailing into turn two of a west side Tallahassee dirt track, Reggie shifted into fourth gear and pushed the car to it’s max, the thrill of the race electrifying her entire being.

The engine rumbled with authority as the tires hummed over the track, churning up dust as if to truly burying yesterday and her past.

Firing down the straightaway toward pinkish-gold remains of twilight leaking through the tall pines, the last thread of Reggie’s lingering doubt flittered away on the cool September breeze.

This was what she’d been born to do. Restore junked up, forgotten old cars to their original, classic beauty. And it only took her twenty-nine years to figure it out.

Here’s how I started the Ending chapters:

She’d found bliss, and true love, between the shores of an small, gem of a nation restored to royal, sovereign perfection.

A past she’d never knew of came to life and roared into her present, redefining who she was and her all of her future days.

As strange as it still felt to be a royal princess, Reggie was confident this was what she’d been born to do. Restore Gram’s an ancient, beloved Hessenberg to it’s original, classic beauty.

I tried to show how her small beginning lead to a large ending. How she was born to restore, just not what she thought.

Her vision was too small!

So, go over your manuscript. Use these tools to help tie up your story in a classic, fairytale manner.

Happy Writing!

***

OUPBest-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She excels in seeing the deeper layers of a story.

With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novel.

A worship leader, board member of ACFW and popular writing teacher, Rachel is the author of over 16 novels.

She lives in Florida with her husband and her dog, Lola. Contact her at: Rachel@mybooktherapy.com. Her next book, Once Upon A Prince, releases May 7!

Go forth and write!

Do you need help with your story idea, synopsis or proposal?

How about some one-on-one craft coaching. Check out our menu of services designed to help you advance your writing dreams.

Fairytales: Taste of Death

bb3f547c4962ab7a85cacd6a59260e71
http://www.behance.net/gallery/Taste-of-Death/3343937

At some point in every fairytale, there is a taste of death. Sometimes figuratively, sometimes literally.

Cinderella, in the Disney version, was locked away in the tower when the king’s men came looking for the dream girl who wore the slipper.

Snow White bit into the toxic apple prepared by her step monster and fell into a deep sleep that looked very much like death.

The dwarfs laid her out in a casket and mourned.

Aurora, the Sleeping Beauty, also looked to be dead.

Photogen and Nycteris lost their entire worlds when they realized they’d been manipulated and all but imprisoned by the witch, Watho.

At the taste of death, the story appears to be over. All is lost.

Hope is gone.

What about our modern love stories?

While You Were Sleeping. Lucy has to confess in front of the family she’s fallen in love with that lied and is in fact not Peter’s fiance. She left her make shift hospital wedding broken and ashamed.

The Proposal. Margaret does the same thing. (Are we noticing a trend with Sandra Bullock movies?) She confesses it’s all a shame and she cannot hurt the family after they’ve been so kind to her.

She leaves knowing when she arrives in NY, her world, her career, are over.

Sweet Home Alabama. Melanie has not signed the divorce papers. But neither has Jake. They battled their feelings and past with each other it until the “taste of death” moment when Jake signs the papers.

When he does, all harboring hope of returning to the marriage is over for Melanie.

You have to bring your hero and heroine to a point of no return. Everything they’ve been striving for, racing toward, comes crashing down on them.

All hope is gone.

The dream is dead.

In some fairytales, the heroine is seemingly dead. Or the hero.

This is why it is so critical for you to know what your story is about in the beginning and know what the character wants.

You can’t have a taste of death from the dream if you don’t know what the dream is!

See how that works. The end helps the beginning. The beginning helps the end.

Think of a book you recently read. Was there a taste of death? Was there a point when all “is lost?”

What about your own work?

Does your story have that dramatic black moment?

If not, get to work. You need it!

But after the taste of death, after the black moment, a light dawns…

There is hope. A new idea sparks.

The prince comes with the magical kiss for Snow White and Aurora.

The supporting cast of animals frees the locked-up heroine where she has the spare glass slipper.

The hero goes after the heroine. The heroine gets her senses about her and hunts down the hero.

In While You Were Sleeping, Lucy confesses she loves Jack, then he comes after her.

Drew chases Margaret all the way to NY to tell her he wants to marry her because “I’d like to date you.” in The Proposal.

Melanie can’t sign the divorce papers! So she leaves her own wedding and finds Jake setting up lightning rods in the rain. She confesses she’s never stopped loving him and the epilogue is of all their happy scenes together.

So, taste of death. All is lost.

But as you craft this part of your “fairytale” remember to keep in mind the glimmer of hope that death will be defeated, and hope restored.

The taste of death can happen to the romance as well as the individual journey of the protagonists.

Let’s say your hero wants to run a big ranch. In doing so, he messes up his relationship with his fiance and the wedding is called off. Meanwhile, she can’t get her old job back and has no place to go. And his ambition caused him to write checks his ranching business can’t cash.

What’s the taste of death?

No girl. No ranch. No future.

It’s a country song.

Same for her.

No man. No job. No future.

The light of hope gleaming through all the darkness is their true feelings for each other, their inner essence, which is who they really are and really want to be.

Next week, we’ll talk about “storming the castle” and the happily ever after.

OUPBest-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She excels in seeing the deeper layers of a story.

With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novel.

A worship leader, board member of ACFW and popular writing teacher, Rachel is the author of over 15 novels.

She lives in Florida with her husband and her dog, Lola. Contact her at: Rachel@mybooktherapy.com. Her next book, Once Upon A Prince, releases May 7!

Go forth and write!

Do you need help with your story idea, synopsis or proposal? How about some one-on-one craft coaching. Check out our menu of services designed to help you advance your writing dreams.

Fairytales: Scaling The Walls

k2047136The height to which your protagonist scale to achieve love, happiness or peace is the height at which your readers will love your story.

At what price love?

What will they do to win the intended’s heart?

Or, find the killer? Save the family farm?

Or, if you’re a fan of Firefly, fly into the black where reavers dwelled. (Shudder!)

You must create a high wall for your hero or heroine to scale in order to achieve the dream.

It’s not about the wall. It’s about the internal journey.

The protagonist must come to her end, believe all is lost, then dig deep, find inner strength, and try one more time.

Scaling the wall is not in absence of fear, it’s in spite of fear. It’s the moment of truth with she realizes the lie is a lie. She wants to live by the truth.

Let’s look at a few examples:

Cinderella was locked in a tower when the king’s men came with the glass slipper. She had to find courage and stir up resources to get free. Otherwise, all was lost.

In Photogen and Nycteris, each one had to learn about the other side of the day. The day boy had to learn about the night.

The night girl had to learn about the day. Otherwise, their budding love would never work.

But the real obstacle, the biggest wall, was defeating the witch who enslaved them.

In Sweet Home Alabama, Melanie Smooter had to decide if she was going to give up the sophisticated, well-connected life by marrying the mayor’s son.

What about her promise to him? Her career? Her dreams?

The big wall in her life was could she trust the man she thought she divorced? Was it worth the risk?

Could she still have her career in NY while he managed a budding business in Nowhere, Alabama?

Melanie had another huge wall to scale. Her past. She wasn’t raised by rich Yankees.

Her parents were ordinary blue collar folks who lived in a double wide.

At the end of the day, could she had to embrace her country girl upbringing along with her big city sophistication.

Because that’s who she really was, in her core, her essence.

Melanie was a small town girl with big city smarts.

In the end, her black moments, was do I marry the man waiting for me at the altar?

Or do I marry the man who truly has my heart?

I know Hollywood makes it look easy, but it’s not so easy.

It’s hard to leave a man who loves you. Especially with a hundred folks looking on.

So, what is the wall your characters have to scale at the end? Write it down. Keep these things in mind…

1. Ask yourself, “What can the protagonist do in the end he can’t do in the beginning?” The bigger the fear/lie, trouble in the beginning, the bigger the wall in the end.

2. Create an emotional as well as physical barrier. What if your protagonist moved away from his family and the thing he can do in the end that he can’t do in the beginning is forgive his father. So he has to emotionally and physically travel there. Big wall to scale because it’s not like he’ll be with his dad watching Sunday afternoon football and go, “Um, yeah, dad, oh by the way…” The action of forgiveness is premeditated and that takes change in the protag. Humility.

3. Use walls like different faith, social norms, ethnicity, distance, time, family conflict, careers. I once met a Muslim boy dating a Hindu girl. They were struggling in their relationship because her parents were against it. Um, yeah. I didn’t have to be a history major to know those two religions from their home country, India, had a lot of conflict.

4. Different dreams and desires are huge walls. He wants children. She doesn’t. Huge wall to scale in your story. Who’s going to win that one? Who should win? How will they change?

Take a look at your story. What walls are their to scale? Are they high enough? Yeah? Good. Go back an add another brick!

Happy Writing!

OUPBest-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She excels in seeing the deeper layers of a story. With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novel.

A worship leader, board member of ACFW and popular writing teacher, Rachel is the author of over 17 novels. She lives in Florida with her husband and her dog, Lola. Contact her at: Rachel@mybooktherapy.com. Her next book, Once Upon A Prince, releases May 7!

Go forth and write!

Do you need help with your story idea, synopsis or proposal? How about some one-on-one craft coaching. Check out our menu of services designed to help you advance your writing dreams.

Fairytales: Someone Needs to Be Rescued

Fairytales: Someone Needs To Be Rescued

A good story is about a journey. A great story is about a journey that leads to overcoming. Finding hope. True love. Destiny.

Fairytales masterfully use the elements of despair and hopelessness to drive the hero and heroine toward change.

All is dark in fairytale world, usually manipulated by some supernatural, evil force, to confine goodness. To constrain voices of truth and love.

To kill and destroy.

Hum… won’t that preach?

But we don’t want to preach in stories. We want to show.

Typically, but not always, the heroine is the character in the most trouble. The one who needs to be rescued. Though on occasion, the hero can be a bit of a rapscallion and get himself in trouble.

Beauty and the Beast anyone?

The need and act of rescuing is vital to any fairytale-like story.

Cinderella needed to be rescued from her unjust life as a servant. From the cruelty of her stepmother.

Snow White needed to be rescued from the curse.

Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, same thing. These women needed a manly-man kiss.

Think about your favorite love stories. Doesn’t the heroine, even though she might be a strong, independent woman, need some kind of rescuing?

Back to my favorite example with The Proposal (Y’all are going to be like, “Rachel, move on,” when I’m finished with this series.)

But it’s such a perfect, modern example of fairytale elements.

Margaret is the classic, modern, independent yet wounded heroine. She has her life all together. As long as it stays on the careful path she’s carved out for herself.

She doesn’t even realize how uptight and cold she is because it’s the only way she knows to preserve herself and her heart.

Margaret needs to be rescued or she’s going to end up alone the rest of her life.

There’s no curse involved in The Proposal. No real evil other than what life itself can dish out. We don’t know until later that she was orphaned at sixteen and get a glimpse into her “why.”

Drew has his own issues but he’s more sure about his life and choices. He’s not an orphan. He has a rich heritage in his home town and with his family.

He’s the perfect hero for Margaret.

What about While You Were Sleeping. Another great Sandra Bullock flick where her character is alone, orphaned.

She has no one but her work “family,” a sweet but odd neighbor in Joe Jr., and a heart full of dreams. While she’s making her life for herself, she’s going nowhere.

Lucy needs to be rescued from hopelessness.

Jack is just the man. He’s competent, sweet, kind and like Drew, rooted in a family of love and tradition.

Both Drew and Jack make perfect heroes because they “get” the essence of their heroines.

Interesting to note that Drew and Margaret have similar economic backgrounds – affluence. One by working hard the other by inheritance.

While Jack and Lucy are both from working class folks.

You don’t have to create similar socio-economic backgrounds but it’s an element to consider for your story. What works best?

While Cinderella was probably of the aristocratic but not royal set, she was poised to be a princess from the posture of her heart toward others.

Snow White and Aurora were both daughter of kings.

There’s a certain endearment, innocence, to heroines who are strong, courageous but vulnerable.

Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora, Lucy, even Margaret want to believe in others, want to believe there is something better.

They are hopeful in the midst of what their heart is declaring despair.

 

What about the wounded hero?

Well, the Beast is certainly a wounded guy. He needs rescuing. He’s living under a curse that only love can break. Man, that will preach too!

Weren’t we all under a curse until Love broke in and set us free. Jesus is the ultimate hero.

Anyway, Belle’s love for the beast sets him free.

 

In Photogen and Nycteris, Photogen ends up needed rescue in the end because the night frightens him so much. Nycteris sits with him all night, comforting him.

Then he returns the favor and slays the wicked queen/wolf to save Nycteris.

Consider your book. Does the heroine need to be rescued? How about the hero. Rescue elements not only play well in fairytales but in love stories.

 

So how do you create a solid heroine/hero who needs a bit of rescuing? We don’t want wimps on the page after all.

 

  1. Develop the Woundà LikeàFear journey we talk about at My Book Therapy. The dark wound of the past forms a lie which morphs into a fear. This kind of character backstory allows your hero or heroine to have a flaw but with time and maturity, think they have it managed.
    But hold on… not so much. It’s the wound, lie and fear that will ultimately cause your heroine or hero (pick one, not both) to be rescued.
  2.  Secret Dream. Develop the secret dream that’s in contrast to the fear. It’s what I also call the heroine or hero’s true identity.
    For example, Lucy in While You Were Sleeping, wanted to travel, see the world. Yet she worked at the Chicago L which only sees Chicago and lived in a one bedroom walk up. She wasn’t seeing anything of the world.
    Margaret wanted to be loved and accepted. But she had so many barbs and barriers no one could get close enough.
    The secret dream is what causes the heroine or hero to press on in the journey and overcome the fear.
    Cinderella wanted to meet the prince. Snow White wanted to live!
  3. Create a problem. The heroine or hero in a safe place do not need to be rescued. So create a plot situation that forces them to face her or his greatest fear. If they don’t conquer it, they will never see or achieve any of their dreams.
    Cinderella’s problem was her family.
    Can’t some of you relate?
    She needed to overcome her fear of failure, her intimidation by her step mother to believe the story of the fairy godmother.
    Snow White was Public Enemy #1 to her stepmother. She wanted her dead.
    Lucy was in the middle of a huge misunderstanding. A family she was falling in love with thought she was engaged to their pretencous son, Peter.
    Margaret was being departed to Canada and losing her very needed career. It was her whole identity.
    So you have to create a situation in which the heroine or hero has to overcome, and in some way, be rescued.
  4. Show competence. No one likes a weak, wimpy character. Or one that is too whiny or snotty. And please, can we leave “snark” at home. Snarky heroines come off so rude in literature.
    “Show” through scenes and dialog, and the plot, how your heroine or hero is good at something. That they have some sense of self.
    Cinderella was cleaning woman extraordinaire.
    Snow White charmed a family of dwarfs.
    Lucy won over everyone’s heart. Her boss, her friends, the entire Callahan family. She was sweet and kind. We loved Lucy. 😉
    Margaret was in command. She built a life and stellar career for herself. And man, the woman did not mince words. I loved that about Margaret Tate.
    In Photogen and Nycteris, Photogen was an extraordinary hunter. So even though he wimps out when he experiences his first nightfall, we get him. When the run rises, he returns to himself more assured than ever.
  5. Willing to Be Rescued. It’s no fun if the heroine or hero cannot or will not be rescued.
    Cinderella wants to be rescued. She wants to try on that glass slipper.
    Snow White is fine living in a little house with seven little men if it keeps her safe.
    Lucy will marry Jack if he’ll have her.
    Margaret, literally, has to be pulled from the ocean after falling in during a boat ride. She is afraid, but give her hand to Drew to pull her out of the drink. Obviously, she couldn’t stay in the water but it’s very symbolic of her character’s growth and change… she wants to be rescued.

So, as you write your stories, keep these elements in mind. Let the beauty of the fairytale sprinkle your love story. (And every story has some kind of a love story!)

 

Happy Writing!

Rachel Hauck

Best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She excels in seeing the deeper layers of a story. With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novel.

A worship leader, board member of ACFW and popular writing teacher, Rachel is the author of over 15 novels. She lives in Florida with her husband and her dog, Lola. Contact her at: Rachel@mybooktherapy.com. Her next book, Once Upon A Prince, releases May 7!

Go forth and write!

Do you need help with your story idea, synopsis or proposal? How about some one-on-one craft coaching. Check out our menu of services designed to help you advance your writing dreams.