Last night I thought that I glanced at a writer’s craft book all about how to transform fairy tales into original fiction. I was wrong, but it did give me an idea for this week’s #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop. 🙂 How *do* you fracture a fairy tale anyway?
Take some tips from storytellers, via Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale.
Something that I like to do when working with folktale material is to create a beat sheet from a particular telling (written or oral, as I remember it). Forcing myself to remember the story helps to reduce it to its essential plot points. For storytellers, reduction often happens accidentally by forgetting details between tellings but it can also be a powerful tool for authors, especially combined with…
If reduction involves paring a tale down to the essential points, expansion is when the teller elaborates on that skeleton. Most authors can do this naturally, adding colour, specificity, and detail to the story beats we gained through reduction.
Several times I have found myself troubled by several stories that seem to hold so much potential but something critical about their essential beats just does not work. They work as anecdotes, sometimes, but don’t have the depth of a well rounded tale. What to do? Reduction only reveals the underlying problem here, and expansion can only do so much to hide the flaws. What I like to do, and what many storytellers do naturally, is assimilate related or similar tales into one. In this way, the strengths of each story get to shine in a whole new tale!
Have you ever written your own fairy tale, or fairy tale retelling using established folklore as a base? How did you go about it? Or maybe you’ve been wanting to give it a try. Let me know either way in the comments! 🙂