Monday, June 13, 2011

The Charm of Obscure Fairy Tales

At the writer’s conference Life, the Universe, and Everything held at Brigham Young University last February, I feasted on a banquet of information.

Panelists Dr. Jill Rudy, Hailey Evans, and Kristy Stewart discussed fairy tales in one of the presentations I attended. They called it—Retelling Tales: Getting Beyond the Same Six Tales. 
These are the tales they mentioned:

     ~Cinderella  ~Sleeping Beauty  ~Snow White
     ~Beauty and the Beast  ~Red Riding Hood
                           ~Hansel and Gretel

Their teaching and insight fascinated me! I couldn’t wait to claim my own copies of rare and obscure fairy tales to read. My heart went crazy, my ears clanged, my vision sparkled—Ah! The possibilities for using such fairy tales as fodder for my own books besides the utter enjoyment of reading them!

Hailey talked about a huge gap in the fairy tale books she read while growing up—almost all supposedly girl heroes were useless and shared the same beautiful appearance. She suggested reading one of her favorite books: Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters by Kathleen Ragan. This book of stories from around the world features strong female protagonists to inspire readers instead of binding them down to harmful stereotypes.

I enjoyed listening to Jill, Hailey, and Kristy with their impressive knowledge and friendly personalities. 

Some thoughts to take away from their presentation:

~It’s easy to distend belief with a retelling because the originals are already familiar.

~If you write a story that has similar things but contrasts with a known fairy tale, it means more—it’s a foil. Like an Irish girl riding a horse and losing a glove compares to Cinderella.

~If you use a motif, like glass slippers, it will make the reader recall a story they know, even if you’re not telling the same story.

~Resonance is what will connect you to your audience.

If you’d like more great information about fairy tales, check out these blogs:

Diamonds and Toads ~ Enchanted Conversations

Sarah Beth Durst’s Obscure Fairy Tales page 
on her website. 
Click on

SurLaLune Fairy Tales Blog

See you Wednesday—Happy wandering in Fairy Tale Land until then!


tkfonzie said...

I love all of Shannon Hale's young adult 'fairy tales'. She has a way of putting strong heroines with a 'romantic interest'. Loved Book of a Thousand Days!

Katie Dodge said...

I'll have to check out that book, it sounds great. And I love the cover!

Chantele Sedgwick said...

That book sounds awesome! :) I love fairy tales. Obviously, since my first book is sort of kind of based off of a few of them. I love hearing about different ones though. Ones that not a lot of people know about.
Great post Brenda! ;)

Brenda Sills said...

@tkfonzie -Oh my word! I LOVE Shannon Hale's books! You're so right - she has such strong heroines.

@Katie -It's such an interesting book to read - so entertaining! Of course, nothing like people normally think of fairy tales - I love that!

@Chantele -Yeah, I would guess you love fairy tales too - Wahoo for you! It's so awesome to read unusual ones isn't it? It's like finding buried treasure!

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Oh rats! I should have gone to that conference. I love fairy tales. Thanks for posting about this and the book recommendations. I'll have to add that one to my library.

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

I love fairy tales too. Thanks for stopping by my blog - nice to meet you! Look forward to readingyour blog.

Brenda Sills said...

@Kathi -I hate that when I wish I would've gone to a conference and I didn't and it drives me crazy and I keep saying what if, and - okay! enough of that! But I'm just kicking myself because I wish I would've gone to the WIFYR conference going on RIGHT NOW! So I feel for you! :)

@Melissa Ann -Thanks! Three cheers for fairy tales! I'll be so happy for you to come on back!

Honey said...

Ahhh--the love of a great fairy tale has always intrigued me. Most of the children's fairy tales carried over into my adult life. There's nothing like Cinderella's Prince Charming or Adam Sandler being Drew Barrymore's prince in 50 First Dates! I'm a sucker for a happy ending! Great post and thanks for following me.

Brenda Sills said...

@Honey - Thanks! Oh how I love fairy tales too! I'm SO glad that we can still love fairy tales into our adulthood - we can enjoy their marvelousness all our lives! Wahoo! Thanks for your kind words!

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