I came across this well-worn but still valid piece of writing advice on Twitter yesterday:
If you plan on subverting [expectations], you need to subvert with the goal of something BETTER.
And now today, on CBC’s Sunday Edition, they’re talking about Robert Munsch’s game-changing book The Paper Bag Princess, which came out in that long-ago era of 1980 and subverted all the expectations about what a fairy tale should be.
I remember discovering (or perhaps re-discovering) The Paper Bag Princess in my twenties. As a young man who had heard a million fairy tales with the “and then they got married” happily-ever-after ending, it was a very different ending than I was expecting: the princess doesn’t marry the prince, not even after rescuing him from the dragon.
It was a different kind of ending, but still a happy ending. Maybe not so happy for the prince, but then he did nothing to earn a happy ending. It subverted the trope and made a new, better thing from it.
So go: subvert the expectations. Subvert all the expectations. Make it better.
Header image: Maman, across the street from Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, in Ottawa.