I Love Turning Stories On Their Heads

Posted: January 20, 2013 in ideas, Reflections, Writing
Tags: , ,

We’re all familiar with the Brothers Grimm and their stories. Usually they involve a helpless princess being rescued by a dashing prince from some sort of evil, and then the evil is defeated and the prince and princess live happily ever after. They’re good tales, but once we get past a certain point we realize that the classic fairy tales are simple, slightly sexist, and don’t show much beyond the surface.Recently we’ve been getting some updated versions of the old classics: NBC has the supernatural crime thriller Grimm, where a Portland cop interacts with monsters in human form that inspired our myths of werewolves and dragons and ugly old hags. We’ve seen some reworkings of the Snow White myth with two movies this past year, plus Oz, The Great and Powerful rebooting the old Oz mythos this March. And who can forget Once Upon a Time, the ABC series that’s taking all the old tales and working them into a single, kick-ass narrative with a warrior Snow White, a Beauty dating a monstrous Rumplestiltskin, and a not-so-little Red Riding Hood with lycanthropy, told through flashbacks that relate to today’s events (of the story).

I was thinking of these sorts of stories and I realized something: I love those kinds of stories. I love how they take preconcieved notions that were before unbreakable and break them before building the stories into a new form. In fact, I’ve got four of those ideas for books or book series, though nothing involving Grimm. That’s probably best though: I can get a whole lot more fans by messing with 19th century children’s literature, Arthurian legend, Hans Christen Andersen, and Judeo-Christian mythology (that last one might offend a few people though. Oh well).

Why do we like these sorts of stories? Why are they so popular? Maybe we like seeing something we all grew up with in a new light, or perhaps we enjoy seeing something familiar without all the politically incorrect quirks we weren’t aware of when we were young. Or maybe we like seeing a new side of something familiar. Who’s to say? We’re all different, with different tastes, beliefs, and psychologies. Even identical twins aren’t always perfect mirrors of each other.

Whatever the reason, I can’t wait to tackle my own stories and turn them inside out. Just got to get some other stuff out before that. But I have a feeling I’ll do that soon.

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Comments
  1. cgparkin says:

    And we are probably tuned, due to experience, to a lot of set structures (Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey would be a good example). Nice post!

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