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Genres & Age Categories => Sci Fi & Fantasy => Topic started by: SarahW on August 08, 2014, 12:28 PM

Title: Anyone like fairy tales?
Post by: SarahW on August 08, 2014, 12:28 PM
Can original fairy tales still be written, and be relevant to a modern day audience? Or are older stories the ones limited to the title of being called Fairy Tales, and not be retellings?

I loved darker fairy tales as a kid, though couldn't get into Epic Fantasy -- as of yet.
Title: Re: Anyone like fairy tales?
Post by: nilaffle on August 08, 2014, 01:15 PM
Well, there's Stardust by Neil Gaiman - that is very much a fairy tale written for a modern audience, and Holly Black's Modern Faerie Tales as well. Personally I love the idea of modern fairy tales - I'd like to write one or two, myself! I don't think fairy tales has to be resigned to past centuries. Many of the stories we know as fairy tales came out of French salons in the 1600's. It was something of a game, with each participant taking an old folktale and putting a modern spin on it. Many of the stories were subtle critiques on the politics of the day through magic and whimsical characters. If fairy tales could be transformed and made relevant in 17th century France, I certainly think the same can be done in today's society. 
Title: Re: Anyone like fairy tales?
Post by: Franzilla on August 08, 2014, 01:35 PM
I feel like I've read quite a lot of modern fairy tales (modern as in they were written in the modern day). But maybe I'm using the term incorrectly. Wouldn't THE FROG PRINCESS series by E. D. Baker be considered fairy tale? And I loved THE MAGICAL MISADVENTURES OF PRUNELLA BOGTHISTLE by BBer Deva Fagan. I'd class that as a fairy tale, too.

But I may be classifying incorrectly!
Title: Re: Anyone like fairy tales?
Post by: SarahW on August 08, 2014, 02:07 PM
That sounds like a totally fun game. Something to try at a college party of writers. Yea I may need to look up the correct usage.

Aside: I came to fairy tales through studying Magic Realism. It seems less of a jump to go fairy tales, if I already like to watch (and eventually read) magic realism.
Title: Re: Anyone like fairy tales?
Post by: L.P. on August 08, 2014, 11:02 PM
I enjoy magical realism. I'm not really sure where you cross over from magical realism to a modern day fairy tale. After reading the definition of a fairy tale in Wikipedia, I think the Hobbit could be a fairy tale too. I'd have considered Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings to be fairy tales too, but the definition states that it is a short story based on folklore and fantasy. I would love to read a contemporary fairy tale.
Title: Re: Anyone like fairy tales?
Post by: cheryl-grossman on August 09, 2014, 04:14 AM
You may be interested to know about this: (

Title: Re: Anyone like fairy tales?
Post by: Kell on August 09, 2014, 04:34 AM
Oh, there are so many fairy tales still being written! Among novel-length stories, there's blur between traditional fantasy and fairytales. Merrie Haskell's Handbook for Dragon Slayers and Eilish O'Niell's The False Princess are two original tales that have the feel of retellings, for example. 
Title: Re: Anyone like fairy tales?
Post by: SarahW on August 09, 2014, 02:55 PM
That's definitely reassuring. I'm almost finished with a personal essay on fairy tales, and the modern day social science fiction style that I'm wanting to go for. I think my first novella failed some aspects of being a fairy tale. Though I'm not sure, I guess I'll see what my beta thinks.

Most difficult ending I had to write for an older chapter book though. (I had to somehow fit in my mythology from other stories, about how when you die, you merely die a physical death and watch over family to protect them.) I'm consider a first person past tense revision. Not sure yet.

In the mean time, found a list of fairy tale picture books to read.^^ I just need to check the date to see if they are current, if the publication date matters.
Title: Re: Anyone like fairy tales?
Post by: laurie-mckay on August 12, 2014, 09:16 AM
Personally, I love fairy tales, and I especially enjoy something new and different, but with all the feel of a classic fairy tale.  I think original fairy tales can and are being written today!
Title: Re: Anyone like fairy tales?
Post by: Melissa K on August 12, 2014, 10:50 AM
Anne Ursu's Breadcrumbs is an original modern fairy tale. And there are tons of retellings of older tales, like Marissa Meyer's Cinder.
Title: Re: Anyone like fairy tales?
Post by: Melissa on August 16, 2014, 06:40 AM
It all depends on how you use the term "fairy tale."  The term itself is only as recent as the 17th (see contes de fees & Madame d'Aulnoy), whereas the tales themselves are older. 

You can look at the Propp or Arne-Thompson types, and there are certain TYPES of fairy tales that are not popular as they once were or ones that evolved (in both pos & neg ways) since their earlier recorded tale roots.

There are a few good academic journals that cover this. For ex, The Fairy Tale Review or Marvels & Tales: Journal of Fairy Tales Studies.

In its most basic form, a fairy tale is merely a tale that
a) couldn't happen because of fantastic elements in the story
b) is distinct from other similar sorts (i.e. legend or tall tale)
c) is not characterized by a "moral of the story" (although that is open to argument)
d) often includes such fantastic beings as elves, trolls, and dwarves
e) is in "our" world (history included)

Fairy Tales do NOT require the often associated concepts of
a) A happily ever after
b) romance

That's the result of what scholars call the "Disneyfication" of the genre. (Term originated via the ever-brilliaant Jack Zipes, IIRC.)

So, yes, there are scads of fairy tales that are created every year, both for children and for adults. Much of modern contemporary fantasy has the markings of fairy tales. Some is more correctly called folk-tales or has been inspired by fairy tales, but it's thick on the ground from picture books clear through adult fiction.

Some (like most of Neil's books or Holly's or most anything Charles Vess or Charles de Lint do) will be more closely tied to the roots of the genre.  Often they will be rooted in something more obscure (as in Holly's WHITE CAT or Neil's ODD & THE FROST GIANTS), but the tie is usually there.

To read on the academic side of it, look to Jack Zipes, Maria Tatar, & Marina Warner as a starting point.  At least 2 of them have also done tale collections, if memory serves.  Zipes, in particular, has written the most significant books on the study of the genre.   

Hope that helps!

Title: Re: Anyone like fairy tales?
Post by: Keila on August 16, 2014, 05:30 PM
 :like Nice discussion. My retelling of the Gingerbread Man set in New Orleans will be published in 2015 in time for Mardi Gras. And it's true there isn't a clear moral or lesson or a happy ending for the mc and that is one of the most ''retold'' tales. Also one that teachers love to teach.

I've written a couple others just using our unique culture which I think works pretty well when putting a new spin on an old tale. I was quite shocked to see how many Gingerbread retellings there are and how many Pelican has already published. Guess they sell...or I hope so! 

And Mo Willems' has some that are really very funny!

Title: Re: Anyone like fairy tales?
Post by: SarahW on August 16, 2014, 08:40 PM

I'll have to check out Mo Willems then.

I've sort of tried compressing the traditional definition down to a way that I can work with. But it's extremely tricky. Something like, "stories that are told in a succession of episodes, that tell of rags to riches with the aid of a magical helper."

The reason I tend to be hesitant using this log line, is my own stuff tends to be riches to rags type stories. A succession of episodes of powerful magical adversaries that aid the downfall from riches to rags" I'm still very much learning what makes the genre what it is.

I'm actually checking out George MacDonald at the moment. Enough Brother's Grimm to last me a month.

Another thing I love reading, Japanese ghost stories.
Title: Re: Anyone like fairy tales?
Post by: zoraida-rivera on August 20, 2014, 09:22 PM
I love fairy tales and folklore. Read Breadcrumbs, Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, Palace of Mirrors by Margaret Peterson and The Magician's Apprentice by Trudi Canavan, among others. 

My fantasy novel has a princess as the main character, a very snobbish princess that uses her magic carelessly and must face the consequences. Princess no more!

Aaron's Shepard's page is an excellent site for those interested in writing with fairy tales and folklore. You find it at: (
More on  these topics and fables at: (

Title: Re: Anyone like fairy tales?
Post by: jennifer-bushroe on September 26, 2014, 08:23 PM
Oh yeah, for sure! One reason I love writing fairy tales (both retellings and original stories) is that they're universal--they speak to universal needs like the desire for familial love, romantic love, the conquering of fears, advancement in society, earning respect, gaining wealth...the list is a mile long. So whether a modern writer adapts an old fairy tale to suit a modern audience, or if a modern writer writes an original fairy tale (set in history or a contemporary time, it doesn't matter), I believe they all have their place.

Melissa mentioned Fairy Tale Review, which is a good example--it's a literary journal that pubs contemporary fairy tales for an adult audience. But there are stories written for all age groups that could be classified as original fairy tales, and people love them!