marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

beginnings, middles and ends

There are three sorts of fairy tales -- or fairy tale episodes, if they are stuck together -- based on where the characters are in relation to their families.

The first is the one where the child hero leaves the parental home but then returns to it.  "Hansel and Gretel", "Jack and the Beanstalk," "Vasilisa the Beautiful," "Diamonds and Toads."  A marriage can be tacked on at the end, but it's clearly only in the denouement.

There's the typical one, where the hero leaves the parental home and after adventure, inaugurates a new home by marriage.  "Cinderella," "Beauty and the Beast," "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

And then there's the third one, where the hero, having already married, proceeds to lose the spouse and have to adventure to gain a reunion.  "The White Duck," or "Stan Bolovan."

Any of which can be stuck together.  And often are.  The "Diamond and Toads" type often leads into a story where her stepmother tries to her own daughter for the stepdaughter who's going to marry the king -- as in "The White Bride and the Black"  -- or one where she marries the king without ado but her stepmother tries to murder her and substitute her own daughter after she gives birth -- as in "Bushy Bride."    Or "The Wonderful Birch" combines a Cinderella tale with the stepmother's attempt to get rid of her and replace her with her daughter.  Or "The Girl Without Hands" has the girl escape the devil, marry the king, and then have to cope with her mother-in-law or the devil's second attempt (depending on edition).  In "The Devil's Three Golden Hairs," the hero marries the princess half way through.  One like "Sweetheart Roland" where the man is magically induced to forget her when they are still betrothed hover on that border.

Convenient for basing your story on fairy tales.  Pick the right one of each of the three and you have a story structure that can easily fit a novel's length with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

It's the right one that's the real trick.  Most of the child ones involve going into the forest and meeting the evil witch/ogre/what have you.  I'm fooling around with an idea, and the prince in it is a little reluctant to fit in something happening before he sets out to marry.  sighCharacters!
Tags: beginnings, endings, fairy tales (retelling), idea development, middles, story length, story structure

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