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Faerie-Tales: The New “Thing” in Fantasy Entertainment

First it was vampires and then it was zombies. Now it’s faerie-tales. What will the next fad be? Necrophilia and bestiality? Supernatural teen pregnancy? Oh, wait. I forgot. Twilight already did both.

I kid, I kid. But seriously, all of us should remember some sort of faerie-tale from the time that we were children. Unless, of course, you’re like me and still read them now. Whether you were raised on the Grimm Brother’s versions of the stories, or on modern Disney adaptations, you know what is needed to make a faerie-tale a faerie-tale and could probably pick one out of a line-up. My grandmother read me stories such as Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs, which solidified my love for this type of fantasy. But to truly appreciate the faerie-tale, one should know its history.

CastleFirst a bit of backstory.

*Insert drum-roll here.*

Faerie-tales have been around for thousands of years. Most of them were told orally, and unless they are still told today or have been transcribed, they are more than likely lost to history. (If you’re anything like me, the mere thought of lost stories brings a tear to your eye. *sniff*) More often than not, they also have a message, lesson or moral that they are attempting to impart to the reader.

Some of the most notable and still widely read faerie-tales had been penned first by the French author Charles Perrault who lived from 1628 to 1703, and then retold and adapted by the German Grimm brothers who lived between the years of 1785 and 1863.

Perrault was the first to write stories such as Le Petit Chaperon rouge (Little Red Riding Hood), Cendrillon (Cinderella), Le Chat Botté (Puss in Boots) and La Barbe bleue (Bluebeard). The Brothers Grimm popularized them and wrote some of their own, such as Hänsel und Gretel (Hansel and Gretel), Rapunzel, Rumpelstilzchen (Rumpelstiltskin), and Schneewittchen (Snow White).

Unlike the sanitized and Disney-fied versions of the stories, many of the above (mostly the Grimm Brothers’ versions) were scary, violent and cruel. Sometimes they didn’t end happily, despite the fact that so many of us talk about the “romantic faerie-tale ending.” However, Disney isn’t the only man who used the stories to his advantage. Adolf Hitler actually laced the beloved tales with propaganda to promote support of the Third Reich. Example? An SS man saves a Swastika wearing red-robed child from the big, bad wolf. And you might not know that Snow White’s father did indeed want to invade Poland. Quite interesting.

So, other than a history lesson, what’s the purpose of this article? Well, there are a few.

First, faerie-tales are becoming popular again. It’s the new fad. If you haven’t noticed the rise in re-vamped faerie-tales, then you clearly have been living under a very large, soundproof, indestructible, nuclear-holocaust-retardant rock. Below is a short list of recent faerie-tale reinventions:

Red Riding Hood (movie poster)

Red Riding Hood (MOVIE)

Snow White and the Huntsman (movie poster)

Snow White and the Huntsman (MOVIE)

Click here if you want to see a list of upcoming faerie-tale based movies. It’s a bit extreme.

Once Upon A Time - Title

Once Upon a Time (T.V. SHOW)

Grimm

Grimm (T.V. SHOW)

Cinder (cover)

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (NOVEL that retells the Cinderella story from a futuristic point of view where Cinderella is a cyborg mechanic. I know how it sounds, but I loved it.)

Beastly (cover)  Beastly (movie poster)

Beastly by Alex Flinn (NOVEL that places the timeless classic in a big city with a good-looking, teenage celebrity who pisses off a witch posing as a fat goth girl. Also a movie.)

Sweetly (cover)

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce (NOVEL that modernizes the Hansel and Gretel story. Except the characters are Ansel and Gretchen. Witty.)

I’m sure that there are many more that I’m missing, but I wanted to give you some insight into the rise in popularity of modernized faerie-tales. It’s kind of astounding.

The second purpose of this article is to tell you that Fantasy-Faction, my lovely benefactor, has recently held a writing contest for the submission of short stories of the fantasy genre. Submission ended June 30th. Fret not! The anthology is going to be an annual thing. And next year, one of the possible anthology themes is—you guessed it—Faerie-Tales. If they do decide to make Faerie-Tales the theme of next year’s anthology, and you’re interested in submitting, their email boxes will be open in February 2013.

The third purpose of this article is connected to the second purpose. If you’re interested in writing for what could be next year’s anthology, or just because you want to try your hand at something new, you should know what it takes to write a faerie-tale. There are seven major steps that I’ve found across the internet, but you can tweak them in any way that will help you write the story.

Lessons
Are you going to have the reader learn a lesson? Many faerie-tales, some mentioned in this article—some not, attempt to teach the reader some fundamental lesson or moral. For example, Hansel and Gretel teaches to beware of strangers with sweets. Beauty and the Beast teaches readers to not judge someone based on their appearance. That sort of thing.

Good Guys
Create a protagonist that is inherently and morally good, but possibly naïve. Someone that the reader can cheer on, even when they fall flat on their face.

Bad Guys
Create an antagonist or group of antagonists. This person or people need to be truly evil and possibly possess some kind of grudge against humanity. Usually these characters have special powers, or come across something that gives powers to them. Because of the blackness of their heart, they intend to use these powers against the symbol of happiness and good (the protagonist) in order to share their pain with the world.

Escaping Reality
Place your characters in a fantastical setting, peopled with faeries, elves, trolls, dwarves, talking animals and/or other such creatures. A faerie-tale is meant to be an escape from reality.

Magic Items
Create a magical character or object that the protagonist will come across. The antagonist could theoretically be the only magical character, but the story becomes more interesting when the protagonist can meet someone whose powers can assist them in the fight against evil.

Obstacles
Make obstacles for your protagonist to face. The victory should be hard-won, with fear of failure. The protagonist should be forced to come up with a creative way to surmount the obstacles before them, possibly using the good magical character or object to help them.

Happy Ending?
This one is up to you. Do you want there to be a happy ending? Faerie-tales have been written both ways, but the most popular way is to defeat the big baddie and bring happiness to the land. Either way, the ending must be epic and memorable.

The last purpose of this article, but perhaps most important, is to ask a few questions of its readers. Why do you think that faerie-tale popularity is again on the rise? Do you find it to be a cop-out—that perhaps people are running out of new ideas? Are you on board with the trend, or could you not care less? I’m interested to hear what you think in the comments below!

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4 Comments

  1. Good article. Fads are a very fickle thing. I do believe that Hollywood and whoever else is behind this trend of faerie-tale adaptions are simply playing to the musical beat of the market like they always have. Let me put it this way: one producer will have an original idea – this happens all the time – and if it sells well, other producers will take notice and pump out similar titles because of the marketability. Fans, like and you and me, simply follow what is being produced and so fuel the fad. As we have also noticed, fads are fleeting. Vampires, zombies, and faerie-tales will not always be on top, and on young school kids’ backpacks. I am a fan of faerie-tales, however, and I am enjoying the trend.

  2. Avatar onetomany says:

    i never read faerie tales when i was a kid only started reading books about 2 yeasr ago did no know how books could bring me to new worlds.. know that i do read i love fantasy and know that i saw this got to get some grimm brothers books…thx for this i rly did like this tc:)

  3. Avatar K.J. Hargan says:

    Bill Willingham has been mining the Fairy Tale genre as a re-imagined subgenre for years now with his excellent, best selling graphic novels Fables.

  4. Avatar Vincent Quill says:

    this isn’t actually a negative fad. the zombie, vampire and pirate ones from the years gone by resulted in clones of the same material, never making anything new. this faerie tale fad results in far better stories, because if the story has stuck around long enough, it has to be good, but dulled by retelling in the same fashion over and over again. rebooting it freshens it, usually darkening it, resulting in a fresh take on a good story! hopefully it continues long, replacing the other kinds of fad!

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