Many popular fairy tales have been handed down orally from one generation to the next. As children, hearing these stories for the first time is an exciting and riveting experience. Over time, however, many stories lose their lustre for older readers. As a writer, you can reinvent these tales for older readers by giving them unexpected and nontraditional twists.
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Changing the vantage point from which you tell your fairy tale can transform it into something that twists away from tradition. For example, in the story of "Snow White," you could focus your story on presenting events from the perspective of the woodsman who was hired to kill Snow White. Tell the story of how his life was unfolding before he was summoned to commit murder. Maybe he was fighting with his wife or playing with his children. In this twist, Snow White and her stepmother are background players in a tale of this man's life. Your focus completely changes the tone of a fairy tale.
Take a familiar theme and bring it into a modern day-context. Rather than a ballgown-wearing girl who dances in the forest with animals, you can make the princess in your twisted fairy tale a cellphone-carrying, wisecracking shopaholic who is trying to launch her own reality television series. Bringing your characters and references to popular culture with a modern-day setting and dialogue is a twist that can keep your readers turning the pages of your story.
You can change the entire flow of a classic fairy tale by inserting people who weren't originally in the story. For example, while Cinderella is at the ball waiting to dance with the prince, she meets another girl named Snow White, and they decide to "ditch" the ball and travel to California to open up a chain of feminist bookstores. Twists like these catch readers off guard and pique their interest in seeing how the story plays out.
Traditionally, fairy tales have happy endings, complete with lessons learnt and justice served. Experiment with unexpected ways of wrapping up your tale. Since the princess typically rides off into the sunset with her prince, have her thank him for rescuing her and then leave him and the forest behind as she enrols in a community college to get a degree. Reject the cliched ending for your story, and go in the opposite direction. This deviation from tradition can be mild as in this example or something drastic and dark. Make your conclusion something that your readers do not anticipate.
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