While I like to consider myself a neo-fabulist, my short stories tend to be slipstream, spanning fables, fantasy, science fiction, suspense, prose poetry and modern fairy tales. And, when I share that I write fairy tales, the response if often, "Oh, you write children's stories?"
But fairy tales aren't limited to the nursery — nor bound by happy endings. Unlike fables, they don't always carry the responsibility of teaching a moral lesson.
Here are just a few of my essential elements when writing a fairy tale:
While you can always look to classic fairy tales for retelling or reinvention possibilities, there are countless sources of modern inspiration. Atlas Obscura is a wonderful visual guide to the world's hidden wonders. And The Dictionary of Imaginary Places: The Newly Updated and Expanded Classic is a curious catalog of of a catalogue of fantasy lands, islands, cities and other locations from world literature.
I can't imagine a time when fairy tales won't be a part of my writing life.
As Neil Gaiman, who has enchanted countless readers with his modern fairy tales, paraphrased G.K. Chesterton: “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
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