Although those of us living in the South Pacific couldn’t be further removed from the European woods of Grimms’ fairy tales, we, like the rest of the world, are immersed in fairy tale lore — so let’s have fun with it!
Submission Eligibility: Contributing authors should be citizens or residents of New Zealand, Australia, or one of the South Pacific islands.
Word count: Any length up to a maximum of 10,000 words.
Accepted forms and genres: Fantasy, science fiction, contemporary fiction, historical fiction; poetry, flash fiction, short story (all for a young adult audience). No parodies or horrors. Please query if unsure.
Submission Deadline: Submissions open 1st August 2016 and close 31st December 2016.
Submission Requirements: Stories should follow standard manuscript formatting. Email stories as .doc, .docx, or .richtxt attachments to email@example.com, clearly stating in the body of the email your name and contact details, the title of the story, what fairy tale it is retelling, your word length, and providing a short description of the story and an author bio. You will receive an acknowledgement of your submission. If you do not receive an acknowledgement, please let me know on Facebook, as your submission may be lost. No previously published works will be accepted. Multiple and simultaneous submissions are accepted (but please specify if making a simultaneous submission).
Publication and Distribution: This collection will be independently published on the Kindle and Createspace platforms and distributed online at Amazon and Smashwords, with the potential for admission in selected physical bookstores. Contributing authors will receive a free e-copy and hard copy of the anthology.
Story Rights: Wish Upon a Southern Star maintains first publication rights for print and online. Rights will revert to the contributing authors after 1 year.
I ran this writing exercise with the NZSA Children's Literature Hub a few months ago - now's your chance to give it a try!
The intention is to explore the possibility of writing your own radically retold fairy tale. Follow the steps below and see how you go.
You may like to refer back to my blog post on Approaches to Retellings or use some of the resources below to read up on some fairy tale originals.
Step One. Brainstorm fairy tales you know well or would like to get to know better – get a list of four to five fairy tales that you might be able to work with. Pick one fairy tale to use for the next activities - or follow the steps below for each of the fairy tales on your list.
It can be a good idea to do the next steps below without revisiting the original fairy tale. This will help you to see what you have remembered or misremembered and what elements of the tale really held meaning for you over time. However, if you can't remember enough about the original fairy tale to complete any of the activities past Step One, then reread the original before continuing.
Step Two. Brainstorm some of the key elements in the fairy tale you have selected – jot down the key characters, events, motifs and objects.
Step Three. Think about a character whose motivations are unclear in the story and try to work out their back story. Consider: Why do they behave the way they do now? What has happened to them in the past to make them act like this? What was their childhood like? What do they really want now and why? Give them some psychological realism. Repeat this activity for as many of the characters as you like. Now choose which character captures your interest the most. Whose voice is strongest to you? Whose history and motivations are most interesting to you? This character will be the character your story is about - either its focalising character or its narrator, depending on your choice of narrative perspective.
Step Four. Brainstorm possible settings and genres for your fairy tale (note: setting and genre goes hand-in-hand - if the story is to be set in the future or in space then it is likely to be science fiction; at a bus station or on a crowded beach, contemporary fiction, and so on). For each setting and genre you jot down, imagine what in the story could or would be changed by this setting and genre. How does this influence your characters (their appearance, their speech, mannerisms and personality traits)? How could it change the events, motifs and objects that appeared in the original fairy tale?
Step Five. Work out what kind of message you want to deliver. What do you want people to believe about themselves and the world? How could you develop your character/s and structure your story's events to deliver that message?
Step Six. Write! Start with ‘Once Upon a Time’ or a radically different starting point... Explore the characters and the events. See where the story takes you.
After you've got some basic ideas, or if you get stuck while writing, revisit the original fairy tale. This will help you to better shape your retelling as you isolate the key elements you would like to keep and those you would like to change to deliver your interesting new story with its new message/s.
Do you fancy retelling some fairy tales yourself?
First step in fairy tale retelling: Get knowledgeable and get inspired
Know the original fairy tale well in all its forms; research its origins and meanings – what lesser known qualities could you explore and highlight? What motifs do you want to keep or change? What ideas can you get? What version will you use or will you blend versions together?
Next, decide how you want to retell the fairy tale
Option 1: Keeping it fairly straight
Option 2: Taking Different Angles
New point of view
Explore before or after
Option 3: Getting Radical
All of the changes below will ensure a radical retelling of the fairy tale
As discussed in my post about the definition of the fairy tale, the fantasy genre has much in common with the fairy tale and thus seems the obvious place for a fairy tale retelling to sit - like fairy tales, secondary world fantasies can take the reader to another time and place that does not exist, a place where magic and magical creatures need not be out of the ordinary.
But it can fun to retell fairy tales in other genres as well.
Changing the key events, including the ending (outcome)
Mixing different fairy tales together
Have fun with these considerations when thinking through your fairy tale retelling. See next week's blog post for a writing exercise that will help you really get into the swing of radical fairy tale retelling.
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