May #InkRipples: Mining Fairy Tales for Story Ideas

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on May 1, 2017 in Books, Creativity, Fairy tales, Ink Ripples, Writing |

When Monday falls on the first day of the month, #InkRipples always sneaks up on me. I made sure to get my post up on time because I was particularly excited about this month’s topic of fairy tales. One of my most popular archived posts is “Fairy Tale One-Liners” and I’ve taught a writing workshop about mining story ideas from myths, fairy tales, and legends.

Back when #InkRipples was talking tropes (see “Tropes Are All In The Execution”), I said that all tropes have been used before, so it’s all about how you use them in your own way. I believe that’s also true of story ideas. They’ve all been done before, so why not borrow/steal/draw inspiration from other people’s stories. Fairy tales are ripe for the picking because of the universality of themes, their use of archetypes, the fact that many leave threads open in their plots, and the many different fairy tales out there from cultures all over the world.

You might be thinking that there are so many fairy tales retelling that there simply can’t be room for one more. While I’ve thought that myself, it never fails that another retelling comes out to great success. Seems people can’t get enough of retellings and even plan-old redoings (see the long list in “Disney Live-Action Remakes & Other Fairy Tale Movies Release Schedule”).

And it’s not just retellings that can be inspired by fairy tales. I love when a minor fairy tale character gets their own story or when a story is written from a villain’s view point. Even an interesting take on a classic fairy tale theme, i.e. rags to riches or true love’s kiss, can be taken in many different directions.

If I haven’t yet convinced you that there so many ways to use fairy tales for inspiration, stay tuned next week for a post about some of my favorite stories that stemmed from fairy tales, myths, and legends!

What are your favorite fairy tales and stories that mined from those tales?

#InkRipples is a monthly meme created by Katie L. Carroll, Mary Waibel, and Kai Strand. We pick a topic (May is about fairy tales), drop a ripple in the inkwell (i.e. write about it on our blogs), and see where the conversation goes. We’d love to have you join in the conversation on your own blogs or on your social media page. Full details and each month’s topic can be found on my #InkRipples page.

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  • Jeff Chapman says:

    Great topic. Looking forward to next week’s post. Every culture has its collection of tales and most fairy tales are a bit open-ended or minimalist. Plenty of loose threads for writers to weave their own stories.

  • Dianna Gunn says:

    Fairy tales – and the different connotations associated with them depending on the time period – are certainly fascinating. Personally I like fairy tale retellings that combine their dark pasts with elements of the Disney-fied version; it’s nice to see something in the middle, that acknowledges life is gritty & tough without completely ruining the characters.

    Of course, sometimes it’s also great to just go as dark as possible – The Convergence of Fairy Tales by Octavia Cade is a great example of how to twist fairy tales into something even darker.

    • It is interesting when fairy tales get dark because so many of the original versions are very dark, like I wouldn’t read them to my little kids. I do love a good Disney version, too.

  • kaistrandauthor says:

    I really want to explore fairy tales from other cultures. I think adding culture to my Weaver Tales series would so much fun!

  • Eep, Ink Ripples sneaked up on me this month! 🙂 I do love a good fairy tale re-telling, particularly one where you may not even realize that it’s a retelling until deep in the story with a particular “a-ha!” moment that I always enjoy!

  • mirkabreen says:

    Fairy tales have made comebacks in “realistic” fashion in some novels. I miss the economical telling of the old. I’m very curious about your next post. Waiting…

    • Economy in writing can definitely be a good thing, though fairy tales of old did leave a lot of plot holes. *Evil laughter* at keeping you in suspense for the next post. 😉

  • I’m into fairy tale re-tellings, as evidenced by my recently published Snow White and the Eighth Dwarf. Red Riding Hood will be ready by late summer (I hope. The editing fairy has yet to swish her magic wand). I’ve tried to put a different spin on each and plan on 5 books in the series.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for popping in, Cheryl! It’s fun to play around with fairy tales. I haven’t done any direct retellings, but they have certainly influenced my work.

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