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Writing Fiction: Going Outside the Box for Story Inspiration

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Last week, I posted about how I was using book blurbs to spark my own story ideas (and, as the ideas I posted hopefully show, I have definitely not been merely copying those ideas!). I’ve done a few more of those, but after a while, the ideas (like the book blurbs) just got repetitive. (And as someone who has worked as a blurb writer in the past, I will say that the blurbs, even the best written ones, are not necessarily indicative of the quality of the story between the covers—and there is quite a bit of a formula that goes into writing them, which is why they all sound familiar.)

This week, I’m trying to think outside of my normal “idea-generating box” (romantic films, books, stories, etc.) to see if there are other places where I might find story inspiration.

And one of the places (that I’ve never used, personally, though a lot of romance authors do) is looking at fairy/folktales. I started with a list of the usual suspects (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty & the Beast, Rapunzel, Snow White, etc.). But then I remembered a book I’ve had my entire life (published in 1970, it’s actually older than I am, slightly).

The two stories, which start the book off, that I would consider the most well-known/usual suspects are “Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Princess and the Pea.” It also includes (in simplified versions for young children):

And now, by looking for the originals of all of those stories online, I have more rich resources to peruse for story seeds during my writing time this week!
Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales: First Series, by Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales: Second Series, by Hans Christian Andersen

Grimms’ Fairy Tales, by The Brothers Grimm

Because I could go on doing this “searching for story seeds” forever, I’m putting myself on a timeline. Starting next week (Sunday), I will stop looking for story ideas and start on the “cultivating seedlings” part of the writing process, by going back through the ideas I’ve written down and starting to flesh out the ideas into characters (with names!) and plots.

But for this week . . .
What is one of your favorite fairy/folktales that you feel needs a romance retelling set in Portsmouth, England, in 1802–1803, featuring a hero connected to the Royal Navy?

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