The Pros and Cons of Writing a Fairy Tale Retelling: a Guest Post by Lila Red

Today I come to you with my first ever guest post, written by a friend of mine, Lila Red from The Cheapskate Bibliomaniac. This post is all about the pros and cons of fairy tale retellings, and I really hope you enjoy it! I also did a guest post on Lila’s blog about the pros and cons of co-authoring, so when you’re done reading this, head over to her blog and check it out. Without further ado, here are the reasons you should and shouldn’t write a fairy tale retelling:

PRO: You can do a lot with the simple stories.

Think Red Riding Hood. Think Snow White. Goldilocks. Cinderella. Etc., etc. These tales are short and sweet, leaving plenty of room for twisting and deforming until you have – for instance – a long, complex science fiction novel based on the incredibly short Goldilocks story. Hansel and Gretel is spacious enough for many intriguing side plots, Red Riding Hood practically begs to be transformed to a different genre, and Snow White drips with potential for romantic conflict. I could give you many other similar examples. The possibilities are l i m i t l e s s.


CON: It’s easy to borrow too much from the original.

Be creative. Be very, very creative. I don’t think many readers want Cinderella simply rewritten, with only several tiny elements twisted into something only slightly different. What readers often love to see is the elements of the fairy tale bent and woven into the story so that they have to make at least a small effort to spot them. They often want an immensely altered story, and yet they want the old fairy tale to remain noticeable. Unfortunately, it can be easy for writers to use the retelling as an excuse not to pump their creative juices. They can sit back, relax, and keep many of the elements the exact same.

I’m not saying it’s a rule. I’m not saying there aren’t commendable exceptions. The retelling I’m currently writing holds to a lot of the original aspects of the tale, and most of my characters have the same names as they do in the original stories. What I’ve done to make up for that is woven several fairy tales into one. What I’m focusing on is knitting them together in creative ways.

I’m just saying it’s easy to borrow too much. I leave you to find other meanings of that phrase. XD


PRO: Fairy tale retellings are popular.

At least, in the YA realm they’re popular.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

A Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Splintered by A.G. Howard

Beastly by Alex Flinn

I haven’t read all of these, nor do I have any intention of reading most of them. I’m not supporting these books in any way – I’m only pointing out that there are a lot of popular fairy tale retellings out there. What better way to up your chances of your book becoming popular than to make it a fairy tale retelling? Readers seem to be falling all over themselves for fresh new twists on age-old stories.

CON: Fairy tale retellings are popular.

Yes, this is also a con. If you’re at the lowest stage of writing a retelling – the “considering” stage – then you have a long road ahead of you. Let’s say you plan on publishing traditionally. There’s the first drafting, then the rewriting, then the storyline editing, then the copy editing, then the querying, then the waiting, then the rejections, then the more waiting and more rejections, and so on and so forth. It’ll be months, perhaps even years, before you get an agent. From there it’ll take even longer for your book to hit the shelves.

By the time your retelling is finally published, it could be that the trend will have faded, if it hasn’t begun to already. I know that some readers are fed up with all the fairy tale twists – although I personally don’t understand how anyone could grow tired of them. Thankfully, there are still PLENTY of die-hard fans out there! But trends normally disappear as something new and fresh starts to attract attention.

It’s my belief and hope that fairy tale retellings will defy the norm and always hold an elevated position in the bookosphere, but you never know.

Writing a fairy tale retelling has been heaps of fun for me, but every writer is different. I hope this list was helpful, and I strongly encourage you to give a retelling a try even if you’re doubtful that it’s the right genre for you. It’s always healthy to expand your writing experience by attempting to write stories of many genres.

Alright, that wraps it up, Thanks so much, Lila! Hope everyone enjoyed this great post, and don’t forget to go check out my post!


13 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Writing a Fairy Tale Retelling: a Guest Post by Lila Red

  1. Well … if there are only 7 plots in existence, then we’re rather fated (I prefer it doomed) to replay certain themes of the fairy-tale. They are the viral successes of their time, and our, time.

    So maybe it’s not a case of ‘when’ to re-tell the fairy-tale, it’s a case of ‘how’ you’re going to do it without anyone noticing … too much. 😉


  2. Great job, Lila! I feel the same way about the Little Red Riding Hood story. She’s my favorite fairy-tale character! I have a retelling of her saved on my computer, but its on the back-burner (along with my other 20+ plot bunnies.) I can’t wait to see how your story turns out! ❤


    1. Lila Red

      Red Riding Hood is so awesome! Oooohhh, that’s interesting. I hope maybe to hear more about that story sometime 🙂

      Thanks, Ivie! I can’t wait until I finish it so you can read it, though that will be a while, haha… 🙂 ❤


    1. Lila

      Your story is special, HaziWords! No one else but you could write it 🙂 And the Unenchanted series is on my TBR – I need to read it sometime! 😀


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