1. takadote26

    takadote26 Member

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    Fairytale motifs

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by takadote26, Mar 12, 2021.

    So basically I'm trying to structure my draft to have a dark tone (similar to a gothic fairytale, but with science-fiction termiology)...
    I currently have:
    • Several princesses stuck within a royal palace
    • An evil matriachal queen (who also takes an immortality potion)
    • An ancient alien civilisation (similar to Ancient China)
    • Many dragons, which are considered important to the alien's culture
    • A certain fortune-teller...
    • More to come? (a bit stuck on ideas at the moment, no inspiration
    Is there anything that I'm missing from my rather twisted fairytale? What aspects of it mimic an actual fairytale? This thread is to also discuss common motifs in fairytales and how they changed over time...
     
  2. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    Fairy godmothers, handsome princes, elves, pumpkin carriages, singing crabs.
     
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  3. Kalisto

    Kalisto Senior Member

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    Good question. There are so many different tropes and ideas you could put into this that I wouldn't even know where to begin.

    But I think what is the most important aspect that makes a fairytale a fairytale is simply that real fairytales don't lend any explanation to the story's logic. For example, if we look at something real basic like the Princess and the Frog. Family is childless, begs a witch to bless them with a child and the child is born a frog... why? No one knows. And then without any explanation a kiss from a princess turns him human. How? It just does.

    Magic can often feel random and almost chaotic, appearing at just the right moment for it to be useful, but then never used again. Motives of witches and other magical beings rarely, if ever, are explained.

    Basically, they just require you to suspend disbelief and just roll with everything without any expectation of an actual explanation. And this can be very difficult to do with modern audiences who often expect that the story make sense at all times.
     
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  4. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Here's a good rundown of fairy tale motifs: Elements of a Fairy Tale Story @ Pen&Pad

    One I can think of—often the hero or the heroine has 2 sets of parents; their ordinary parents and magical parents who live in the 'other world'. Often the child was given to the ordinary parents to avert some kind of trouble, because there's great danger if he/she remains in the secret magical world.

    This might actually be more of a myth thing now that I think about it though. Sometimes only one parent was magical or a god, such as with Hercules and Jesus. Odin and Zeus had many illegitimate children with mortal women, they became various kinds of heroes or villains.

    Ok, this is definitely about fairy tales—dark mysterious forests, deep wells or pools or lakes. Small strange characters, sort of Yoda-ish, who seem scary or idiotic or mean, but the hero or heroine trusts them and they turn out to be magical helpers. But they punish the people who don't trust them or who ignore their pleas for help.
     
  5. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber marshmallow Contributor

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    Serial murderers, grotesque tortures, witchcraft.
     
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  6. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    [​IMG]
     
  7. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    Pretty much anything that uses magic is considered
    fairy tale-esque. Also they tend to have happy endings,
    unless you look at the older tales that were spun off
    from for more modern means. Grimm's Fairytales
    and others tend to be much darker.

    Also a big thing in most fairytales is a moral.
     
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  8. SapereAude

    SapereAude Contributor Contributor

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    I'd say the major element missing from your list is a sorcerer. The question is -- do you need all the elements in one story?

    You probably also need either a knight errant, or a handsome serf who rescues the princesses and wins the hand of one of them as a reward. Perhaps the handsome serf IS the knight, but he has been made to appear as a serf thanks to an enchantment.
     
  9. ruskaya

    ruskaya Contributor Contributor

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    I prefer less known fairy tales, and so I would suggest to use their ideas/tropes. Many fairy tales shares tropes like the evil stepmother and sisters that have been already heavily exploited, but less known ones have also overlooked elements that make them different and enchanting. I often find their randomness to speak to my guts a lot more than the better known fairy tales that I already heard so many times before. Of course, it all depends on what you are trying to do.
     
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  10. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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  11. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    You can download Grimms' Fairy Tales or Hans Christian Anderson, or any number of other fairy tale books from Archive.org or Project Gutenberg and read a bunch of them yourself, rather than getting a lot of secondhand or thirdhand ideas about them filtered through modern perceptions and ideas.
     
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  12. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Dog mom Contributor

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    Andrew Lang's fairy books are classic.
     
  13. takadote26

    takadote26 Member

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    Basically because the evil queen of the whole city is a secondary character of the story, I decided that she should be also vain and rather cold in nature...

    But the royal fortune-teller needs to have a major role in the story as well... Which is rather complex, seeing as most of the first half of the draft takes place in the city itself
     
  14. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Banned

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    I really love these elements! They're striking and memorable.

    if you want a fairytale feel, something I suggest is thinking about the narrative voice and psychic distance. a lot of popular fantasy fiction snuggles up real close to the story's protagonist and the psychic distance is very close. but fairy tales are traditionally told by a distant narrator, so that's a possibility to consider when you're working out how to get the mood and the feeling you want for the story. another possibility is to use an omniscient narrator--but it's hard to convince the modern reader to sit still for it, sometimes.
     
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  15. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    Be careful with your Ancient China motif. As someone Chinese, I definitely bristled at the idea of an "alien civilisation" that would be "similar to Ancient China". Going from this idea to reading the next, "Many dragons, which are considered important to the ALIEN's culture" - I see a lot of problems.

    Now I'm probably reading between the lines too much as all you've supplied are one-liners. But your wording already sounds problematic. Like I need something exotic to inspire me and I need to create some aliens, well, China seems to fit! Because we're... aliens?

    I'm not especially sensitive, but this wording bothered me. I'd just be careful with how you develop these ideas if you pursue them.
     
  16. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Dog mom Contributor

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    Creating an alien Celtic-Norse hybrid culture that dances with dragons and kicks evil queen butt might offer fewer pitfalls. We're not as exotic as ancient Chinese, but some of our ancestors make damned good alien prototypes. Just leave the horns off the helmets, don't mention Guinness, and you're golden.
     
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  17. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Yeah, but nobody wants to piss off the Norse, male or female. :supershock:
     
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  18. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Dog mom Contributor

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    Or a Celt. Combine the two and you get someone like my daughter. Do not mess with her. Even if you win, you're liable to need a trip to the ER .:)
     
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  19. takadote26

    takadote26 Member

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    But my whole story is a respectful tribute to Ancient China, which is why I want to have a lot of fairytale motifs in my draft...
     
  20. SlayerC79

    SlayerC79 Banned

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    lol!!

    Oh boy...

    Not knowing the inside track or what the OP meant, I think they were talking about the general architecture, etc.
     
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  21. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    You're gonna have to explain the connection here. When you say fairy tales, and I see you talking about dragons a lot, I'm really thinking of King Arthur, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Little Mermaid. Dragons are not unique to the Far East, even though sure they are a major mythological creature in those cultures.

    You don't specify that in your post (or did I miss it?) and you're talking about evil step mothers (Cinderella, Snow White etc) - and from this thread you're getting suggestions for Brothers Grimm and fairy godmothers... Also this means none of the suggestions above would have been useful to you because you didn't specify that this should be a tribute to China.

    You've lost me. Absolutely none of those mentioned above are in any way connected with typical Chinese tales. How can it possibly be a respectful tribute to the country and culture?

    I am genuinely perplexed. Please explain. What is it you're trying to achieve? Are you trying to weave CHINESE fairy tale motifs into your story? Otherwise how is it a tribute to China and how does that connect with you wanting fairy tale motifs?
     
  22. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Dog mom Contributor

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    Oh, good heavens. You made your point: you are deeply offended by another writer's flights of imagination because he/she referenced ancient China and the possibility of merging elements of fairytales from multiple cultures into an imaginary literary world. Fine. That's certainly your privilege. However, determinedly badgering a writer who is exploring creative possibilities is bullying, if not an out and out attempt to censor his/her creative process. You said yourself you might be reading too much between the lines. Perhaps it would be enlightening to contemplate that possibility for a while before continuing the attack.
     
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  23. B.E. Nugent

    B.E. Nugent Contributor Contributor

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    I looked at the original post and substituted Ancient Ireland for Ancient China and, regrettably, found nothing offensive. Unless there's Leper Corns in it. But even then, if they're sarcastic little bastards like the ones I meet, I'd forgive it.
    I'd suggest some chill. Let the piece at least get written, not to mind published and purchased and there's plenty of time to work out if it's culturally insensitive.
    I have a piece in my head that I might try to write some day starting with "Once upon a time in a faraway land there lived a beautiful princess..........." and spend the entire exercise reworking the opening line to fit with contemporary mores.
     
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  24. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    I am saying I don't see how fairy tale motifs connect with ancient China. Unless you seem to understand how they connect? He said "that is why" he wants fairy tale motifs. I am confused.

    Deeply offended? Nah. I said I see a problem with the wording, and I said I was confused. That you think a question is badgering is not really my problem.

    OP can ignore me. It doesn't matter to me either way. He can write exactly what he likes. No one can stop him. And no one should. But if he publishes a book that seems to represent a minority wrong, his book's gonna get ripped to shreds. With the cancel culture as big as it is nowadays and Twitter's a pretty volatile place, it pays to be careful, that's all.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2021
  25. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Maybe @takadote26 meant something more like ancient Chinese mythology or legend, and doesn't know the proper terminology? Maybe you could help them figure out some of what they're asking for help with.
     

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