March 3, 2015

Insecure Writers' Support Group - February Grace and Upon a Time OR where to find inspiration for writing

According to Jack London: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
While I agree that finding inspiration feels like a fight a lot of the time, we can also find it in places that are staring us right in the face. For this blog post, I’m referring to fairy tales. They’ve become so familiar to us that we may overlook them as sources of inspiration.

Take, for example, the story of Cinderella. Out of curiosity, I wanted to know how many versions of the story have been written. Wikipedia listed too many to count. The one we’ve come to recognize as the classic tale with a pumpkin and fairy godmother came from Charles Perrault in 1697 under the name of Cendrillon.

The amazing thing about writers and our creativity is that if you gave 50 authors the Cinderella story, or any other fairy tale, and asked them to write their version of it, you could end up with a hundred different stories (at least if some of them were like me and had more than one way to make it different).

When my blogging friend February Grace used it for inspiration, she came up with a version I had never imagined myself but now treasure as one of my favorites. To summarize the plot:

A blacksmith’s apprentice who would be a knight. The heir to the throne, at death’s door. One woman who would save them both, if she could… 

Charlotte was number sixty-four in the second group of young, hopeful maidens intended to meet the Prince at a grand ball in his honor. 

That introduction was not to be. 

She returned home to her tiny village—and her visions of a future limited by it—without any warning of the drastic turn her life was about to take. 

Soon she would be fighting against the odds to help keep a gravely wounded stranger alive; and waging war with her own heart, as he stirred feelings in her she’d never known. 

When the stranger’s royal identity is revealed, Charlotte is faced with an entirely different battle: one to keep her family, village, and the injured Prince in her care all safe from a madman set on taking the throne by any means necessary.

When I asked February what had inspired her to write this particular version, she said, “I have always wondered in the back of my mind what happened to the girls who weren't picked at the ball. So that turned into the idea of Charlotte, which turned into UPON A TIME but somewhere in it all it became so much more than her story. It became that of Thomas (the blacksmith’s apprentice), and the Prince, and the trials and physical challenges they would have to overcome.

“The characters became dear to me (as someone who faces physical challenges every day myself) and I can only hope it makes those out there facing all kinds of physical struggles to feel understood, inspired, and less alone.”

To read a brief exerpt, go here.  To see where you can find this beautiful story in e-format and paperback, read my last post. To find inspiration, maybe you can look for it in stories you already know. If you need more encouragement, check out the other posts for The Insecure Writers’ Support Group (posts available March 4th).


Anonymous said...

The great thing about a story is that it doesn't end with just the main character/situation. There are supporting characters, right? They all have their own lives. So, in essence, one story could break apart a thousand times to tell the tales and trials of things never seen on the page. Cool concept with Upon a Time. I'll check it out.

February Grace said...

Thank you again, so much, for your amazing support of me and my writing! You are awesome.

I love how you tied in your theme with the story, and you're right there are more versions of Cinderella than you can count! I am so honored to know that my version of events surrounding the great ball and princess of legend is one that you really enjoyed.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Nick Wilford said...

Congrats to February! That sounds like a great version. Yes, fairy tales are endlessly inspiring. So are all stories; I'm inspired every time I read a book. (Even if it's bad, it inspires me to write a better one!)

Diane Burton said...

Love the Jack London quote about going after inspiration with a club. Yep, no waiting around. February was a great month writing-wise. I'm chugging away on my WIP like the Little Engine That Could. :)

Jenni said...

Wow! I love retellings, and this book sounds fantastic. It is amazing how no two writers could write the same story really.

Anonymous said...

A very creative take on the classic tale! I thought I had come up with a unique premise the other day, but then found a similar book coming out this year. It's good to remember that no story is completely new; it's how the story is told that matters.

Unknown said...

Fairy tales seem to be really popular and in demand now with all the books, movies, and tv shows that have new spins on those classic stories. I think you're right that fairy tales can be used as inspiration for new, great stories. By the way, that's a lovely cover for Once Upon A Time. :)

Sandra Cox said...

What a fascinating concept. And who doesn't love a Cinderella story.

Annalisa Crawford said...

It's really interesting to think that a story we all know could be so very different in someone else's hands.

Congrats to February :-)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

That really sounds like an interesting take on Cinderella. Good point about how writers will all come up with different interpretations.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

And I just bought February's book.

M Pax said...

It's wonderful to see all the inspiration inspired by one story. This is a great twist on Cinderella. Thanks for sharing.