“MY FAIREST BEAUTY”
Finding The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson
The Fairest Beauty is a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs retelling. I knew I wanted to follow the original fairy tale’s plot, but I wanted to put my own spin on it as well. I wanted an active hero who would be in the story from beginning to end, not just one who shows up briefly at the beginning, then swoops in at the end to kiss the heroine and take her back to his castle. So I had to figure out a new angle for the hero.
I like to let an idea simmer in my mind for a while before I start writing. I had in mind a hero who was trying to prove himself, Gabehart, the underdog younger brother who feels he’salways overlooked because he isn’t as brawny or as ambitious as his big brother, Valten, the jousting tournament champion. Gabe thinks a great way to overcome his reputation for being irresponsible is to rescue his brother’s betrothed, Sophie, from the clutches of her evil stepmother. That way, he would become a hero in his family’s eyes.
The problem is, Gabe soon falls in love with Sophie. But he knows that this is just the type of behavior his family expects from him. Besides, Sophie deserved a responsible, honorable man. Gabe may be irresponsible, but he is not a selfish brute. Quite the opposite. He is a good-hearted guy who may be a little arrogant, but never mean. He is brave when the occasion demands it, and truly does want to save the damsel in distress, not just for his own glory but for her sake as well.
Gabe was an enjoyable character to write. He is sweet and boyishly handsome, but rugged too, when he had to protect the woman he cared about. He is also positive and optimistic. As he falls deeper in love with Sophie, he becomes more forward-thinking and dependable than he’s ever been in his life. Here is a girl for whom it is worth becoming a better man.
As for my heroine, Sophie is a girl who is smartly cautious of others. She knows how to defend herself, and is wise to befriend the other servants who she considers her family. She is tough when she needs to be, but also compassionate to those in need. Most fairy tale heroines are frightened damsels in distress, but Sophie is a tough girl, especially since she has no parents or siblings to look out for her. She might be in distress, but she is also shrewd and courageous.
Sophie has a stepmother who hates her and has berated her all her life. I had to ask myself, how would this sort of abuse affect this character?
Sophie must overcome the lies her stepmother told her, the painful words that are embedded in her mind. She had grown up not trusting people, so naturally she finds it hard to trust Gabe. Sophie’s arc becomes all about how she would eventually reject the negative messages told to her by her stepmother, and overcome her lack of trust in others in order to protect herself from emotional harm.
I enjoy analyzing my characters and figuring out how they would react to different situations and problems based on two things: Their personality traits and their past experiences. As I write, I ask myself, What would be the most romantic thing that could realistically happen at each point in the story? What would be the most satisfying way for this book to end? How do I make that happen? Everything has to comply with the characters’ personalities and experiences. I always want my characters to grow , both physically and emotionally.
That’s my formula for a satisfying story.
What a fascinating story! Thanks for sharing with us and our readers,Melanie!
Melanie Dickerson’s 2010 debut novel, The Healer’s Apprentice, was named the Best First Book by the National Readers’ Choice Awards and was both a Christy and Carol Award finalist. The book also earned the HOLT Medallion Award of Merit and was a Maggie Award finalist. Dickerson’s follow-up book, 2011’s The Merchant’s Daughter, was also a Christy Award finalist and Carol Award winner. Her latest book, The Fairest Beauty, is in stores now. www.melaniedickerson.com
- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Zondervan (January 22, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0310724392
- ISBN-13: 978-0310724391
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