To celebrate Women’s Month I thought I’d keep it fun and celebrate my five favourite fairy tale heroines and the lessons they can teach us as romance writers.
Goldilocks. Here’s a nice blonde delinquent who breaks into homes in her restless search for the perfect snack and nap. She wants the finest things in life – even if they don’t necessarily belong to her. Her cuteness, I sometimes think, hides a delicious deviousness. The lesson: your heroine never settles for anything less than the best.
Red Riding Hood. Another plucky adventurer who looks good in red as she navigates temptation and danger in the woods. She is a good girl who likes bad boys – and it sometimes gets her into trouble. If it wasn’t the woods, it will probably be a night club. The lesson: make sure your hero has a hint of danger to make him appealing to the heroine.
Cinderella. She’s a near orphan with a bitchy stepmom and daddy issues, not to mention a low-paying menial job. There’s no way Cinds isn’t a total mess and there’s no way she’s not going to get the prince – with or without her fairy godmother. The lesson: give your heroine a radical makeover and you will make her unforgettable.
Rapunzel. This girl is all about great hair but I sometimes suspect she has other fetishes – maybe selfies, shoes, whips and fur-lined handcuffs. Spending all that time alone in her isolated tower, she keeps her imagination fertile a few dark fantasies – and I bet she writes them down in her journal. The lesson: your heroine can be a loner but she must be a dreamer with a rich inner life.
Sleeping Beauty. This is a classic with a plot that escapes me most of the time – but it involves a princess, an evil fairy or queen and a spinning wheel – and it ends up in coma. And then a hundred years on, a handsome prince who wakes her up with a kiss. I think there’s a very clear lesson here: your heroine can’t wait a hundred years for true love’s kiss. (Neither can your reader.)
What all these fabulous fairy tale heroines have in common, I realised, is that for the most part they are all well-dressed. Cinderella goes to the ball in a fabulous dress – even if it is rented. Rapunzel could be in a shampoo commercial, and Red Riding Hood knows how to rock a red cape. More important, each of them are not afraid to live their lives. They take the risk of falling in love and follow their hearts – straight to a happy ending.
The lesson? Make sure your heroines are beautiful, brave and believable.
Words by Anthony Ehlers 2017.