Princesses are the subject of several clichés in children’s tales and eventually in fantasy. I’d say that “marry the princess and live happily ever after” is one of the biggest and oldest clichés. I have some history with it – and I’ll share some of it today.
Blame the dream
I’ve hinted a few times that much of the early concepts of the story I am working on comes down to weird dreams I had in my early teens. One of those I vaguely remember is a boy climbing the walls of a castle to a secret meeting/date with the Princess.
The early concept (well, if it can even be called that) was very simple – the hero kills bad guys and secretly dates the Princess. When there are no more bad guys, they live happily ever after. It’s not much but keep in mind that I had that just as fun nonsense before falling asleep and it was years before I’d even consider putting the story together.
Both the Princess and the Hero (still several years before getting even a placeholder name) evolved when I actually tried to build a bit more story over the simple idea.
As I believe the previous part hints, it started as a secret romance. Over time, it changed to a friendship approved by her parents that eventually turned into a stronger relationship. Even that had several stages but the changes were mostly related as I built the rest of the story, to take other characters into account when it stopped to be about two characters and countless ‘cannon fodder’.
(Almost) nothing remains
Eventually, I realized the “hero+princess” concept can’t work for the story I want to tell. I can’t say there’s nothing of that cliché left, though. The Princess still has the most typical trait from that cliché – being extremely beautiful. I can’t say what exactly remained and in what scope for the simple reason I don’t want to give spoilers.
So, what is the ‘moral of the story’? As I saw, this cliché is (at least for me) hard to do well for a complex story. If there’s something I value on the continuous changes in the concept stage, it’s the fact it led me to explore new possibilities for the two oldest characters.
If you have anything to share on the matter of this specific cliché, feel free to comment – whether it’s from the PoV of someone who likes/hates to read it, someone who managed to find a refreshing way to use it, or any other way you came into a contact with it. Or just want to share your thoughts on this topic.
See you next time.