Some explaining to do….

What sparked my interest to get into fractured fairy tales as a writing assignment?

Graphic: fairy godmother with wandI was raised on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show and I loved the “Fractured Fairy” Tale segment. There are 91 cartoons in this series, all written by A.J. Jacobs (not the currnt journalist and best-selling author by that name), according to Brownielocks. You can also find the originals on YouTube. I loved the playfulness with language and liberties taken with the standard plots of the fairy tales. Just a quick Google search reveals many writing prompts using the concept as a starting point, most for elementary school level, but not entirely.

In my teen years, I watched a Jewish comedian (the face is in my head but not his name) who retold Bible stories in a “fractured” style and I even took a few stabs at writing comic scripts along those lines. It got me in trouble with several people in my dad’s congregation who did not like the irreverence.

In college, I ran into a free-spirited hippie who used verbal renditions of fairy tales to entertain young women (they loved him). I saw in him the seduction of heroes, adventures, ogres and happy endings. As soon as our ways parted, I adopted the trick of telling stories in fairy/folk tale format to influence young women. I even used the fairy tale style in some of my poetry.

Years later, I returned to fairy tales after reading Bruno Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. The Freudian psychoanalysis probably served to put a more intellectual veneer on my fascination for children’s stories that tell big truths and hidden plots. By then, I had my own kids. I bought a multiple-volume collection of fairy tales from a fabulous British mail-order bookstore and read from them to my kids. The books still have their place in a bookcase in my home.

This entry is turning into a thread with beads knotted at different dates on the timeline, half stream-of-consciousness, half the meanderings of Googling references and characters. What I really wanted to say is that I enjoyed the process of taking a storyline and interweaving dialogue and plot twists, tweaking the stiff original version to make it more resonant to a 21st century mind. Update: for that matter, each fairy tale can have so many versions (bowdlerized, simplified, country- and region-specific) that there is no real virtue in remaining faithful to the single plot. It is the story-telling that appeals to both the writer and the audience.