Friday, January 3, 2014
Using Fairy Tales to Create Your Own Stories
I recently read the first book in the series The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy-Tale Detectives, The Unusual Suspect by Michael Buckley. I feel as if now more than ever writers are using the base of other stories to create new ones.
This has definitely become a trend, and this is exactly what Buckley did, however, I love the way he did it and believe that he pulled it off.
What's it about?
The story is about two sisters Sabrina and Daphne who, after bouncing from foster home to foster home, are taken in by their long lost grandmother Relda Grimm. They learn they are the descendants of the brothers Grimm and that the stories the brothers wrote are not stories but case files and history books. In the first book of the series someone has set a giant loose in Ferryport Landing. The sisters must stop the giant and find out which Everafter is responsible for setting him loose. The girls are also on the hunt for their parents, who disappeared several months ago. With the help of the man in the mirror and their grandmother's huge library, they hope to rescue them and be a family again.
Why is this a good book to curl up with?
The characters’ voices really ring true in this series. The two young girls are hilarious, Sabrina has an attitude, and Daphne is enthusiastic about absolutely everything. Granny Relda is delightful and slightly insane, living in a house that is wallpapered in books.
I think this really works because Buckley isn't simply retelling a story, he's creating a new one. He uses old characters like Pan, the Mirror on the Wall, and the Three Little Pigs, but he creates an entirely new tale, which keeps readers wanting to continue on to the last page.
Another great addition to the books is the illustrations. Each chapter has an illustration drawn by Peter Ferguson, and I'm a huge fan of illustrations because I think it helps readers paint the pictures of the story. While I don't think they should be on every page, Buckley has them spaced out, and allowing one illustration per chapter leaves something to look forward to.
Another great addition is the questions and quizzes in the back. Buckley shows readers where he got his information as well as where readers can find other stories like the one they have read. He shows how fairy tales can be like mysteries and even provides matching games. I love this guy; he's an elementary school teacher’s dream.
How can this help me write?
Hollins University, we read several fairy tales and then were required to create a piece that was inspired from the story. My story had absolutely nothing to do with what we had read, but I had been led down a rabbit hole to my characters. It turned out okay, but I definitely had a character that I could come back to and use again.
Never be afraid to use another story and, from it, be inspired to create your own. I'm not saying plagiarize something, but it's okay to read something else to get your wheels turning.
So, go read! I recommend the leather-bound versions of Hans Christian Andersen and Grimm. They are gorgeous and will make you look like a true princess as you sip from your teacup. Just a suggestion.
Courtney Warren is a writer for her local newspaper, as well as a graduate student at Hollins University where she is pursuing a degree in Children’s Literature. She has a bachelor’s degree from Delta State University, the home of the Fighting Okra (which she is incredibly proud of). She loves to read just about anything placed on the shelves but has a special place in her heart for the Harry Potter series.
When she is not writing about herself in third person, she loves to write stories about middle schoolers with spunky attitudes who intend to save the world, as well as drinking Earl Grey tea from a very prissy teacup.
Check out her blog, Tea, the Spirit, & a Pen.