A Cinderella Update and Recent Writing Lessons

Cinderella … oh my, but she has been so difficult. But I think I’m on the home stretch now.

My biggest difficulty? A lack of drama. Let’s face it–the Cinderella story ins’t all that dramatic. Yeah, there’s the angst with being the verbally abused stepsister/daughter, but the modern reader doesn’t like to read about timid abused girls anymore. They like them to fight back. Maybe kick some stepsister ass. And throw in a bit of well-earned humiliation.

And the plot holes in this story are abundant. Here are the ones that I try to tackle:

  1. Why on earth didn’t the fairy godmother do something before the ball? Why let Cinderella be miserable for all this time?
  2. Why does Cinderella have a fairy godmother, anyway?
  3. Why can’t the stepmother and stepsisters recognize Cinderella while she’s at the ball? Wouldn’t it be so much more dramatic if they did?
  4. What on earth is wrong with the prince? Why can’t he catch up with a woman who is fleeing in glass shoes?
  5. And why does he have to use the slipper to find Cinderella? Why does he make such a boneheaded vow as to marry the first girl who’s foot the slipper fits? Can’t he just re-invite all the women who were at the ball and take a look at them?

The premise behind this whole series is that it is about those who are caught up in the magic. So I came up with a dressmaker’s daughter. Again, I had the drama problem. The initial premise usually gets a chuckle out of people when I tell it to them, but in trying to make it work I kept running into the “why should I give a damn” problem. (I’m brutal to myself.) So I came up with this whole plotline with this dastardly guy who takes dreadful advantage of Fayette when she is young, and then he extorts her, and then he won’t go away until she outsmarts him. But that was all years ago, and he comes back.

Big problem with this plot–two, in fact. One is she was too much of a victim (see above), and two–it had nothing to do with Cinderella. The two lives need to be entwined. I tried to weave Cinderella in there, but it just didn’t work.

So I ripped that entire plotline out and flung it away. 10,000 words, at least. Useless. They wouldn’t even make a decent cutscene.

And then I came up with a villain who is wonderfully evil, who is involved in both of their lives, and who is fun to hate. And, it gave Cindy some needed backstory with her fairy godmother.

So what are the lessons I learned, as hinted at in the title of this post? Don’t be in such a hurry to write. I wrote this one scene–nothing to do with any the above–about five times before I realized the entire concept would not work at all. And when I finally cut it out, I came up with the most wonderful scene that is perfect. So I need to think more before I fly off the handle and start writing.

And another day during my lunch hour, I wrote a list of all the scenes in the story–at least the scenes I had already written and/or envisioned. Over the weekend, I started a new file and began cutting and pasting those scenes into the story. There’s going to be a lot of smoothing over to do, but I am able to use most of my best scenes. Yay!

23,000 words down, 15,ooo words lie bleeding on the floor. Ending, here I come!

6 Thoughts to “A Cinderella Update and Recent Writing Lessons”

  1. Chicory

    Wahoo! Glad you got things worked out.

  2. Glad to hear you’re in the home stretch. 🙂

  3. Tia Nevitt

    Y’all are great. Thanks!

  4. isn’t it interesting how boring those fairytales are these days? glad you’ve figured it out and sharing the point of how ideas are born!

    1. Tia Nevitt

      It’s also interesting how such simple tales have stood the test of time. Another storytelling lesson, I think!

  5. Sometimes it takes a few false starts to get a story and characters to cooperate. I’ve been having trouble with that recently, myself. {rueful Smile}

    I’m glad they became more cooperative. I hope they didn’t balk again later. {Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

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