Clarification of “Fairy Tale Fantasy”?

Posted in: Guidelines Questions, What We're Looking For by Scott H. Andrews

07-29-2008, 03:22 PM

Quote: Chris Modzelewski

I have a quick clarification about your submission guidelines. You specifically mention that “Fairy Tale Fantasy” is probably not right for BCS. I’m wondering what you would characterize as “Fairy Tale Fantasy”?

I’m guessing this includes the obvious Hans Christen Andersen, Grimm, George MacDonald, etc. type of work. But what about more mythopoeic work? For example, would you characterize the likes of Lord Dunsany (especially in his earlier work), HP Lovecraft and many of the Victorian fantastists as “Fairy Tales” (although admittedly of a much darker tone)?

Much of this type of work has a fairy tale structure, but a decidedly different tone, style and theme...

I’d appreciate any clarification you can provide, and I’m looking forward to seeing your issues!

Thanks for the clarification and best of luck,
Chris Modzelewski

Thanks very much for posting. Basically, I’m looking for stories that are zoomed in tight on a protagonist who is facing struggles of some kind. I find that fairy tale-style narratives don’t usually provide that, for several reasons.

–The point-of-view in fairy tales is usually distant, with the tone of a narrator telling the story rather than the reader experiencing it along with the character. I prefer the more intimate feel of close points-of-view.

–The plot in fairy tales is often not a large or immediate struggle. For example, many fairy tales take place over decades, with large spans of time in between important events. I prefer a struggle that’s so intense that there can’t be any lapsed time before the character either conquers it or succumbs to it.

There’s a lot of fantasy short fiction these days that uses distant points-of-view and drawn-out plots and a dreamy feel. Those fairy tale-style elements usually prevent a story from feeling gripping and immediate to me.

As for fairy tale structure, I’m not sure exactly what you mean. The quest structure or plot comes from fairy tales, but it has been used the framework for many gripping, immediate tales, like Lord of the Rings and “At the Mountains of Madness.” The “rule of threes,” as writers call it–the escalation of a plot through three incidents of successively more tension–also comes from fairy tales, and it’s such a universal storytelling technique that it’s in movies, fiction, and even jokes.

I think that plot or structure is such a base framework element that it can be adapted to most any type of narrative voice or feel, so I think most any type of plot could work for the type of stories I’m looking for. I also think mythic archetypes, of both plot and character, can be used successfully in most any style of story. It’s more the fairy tale delivery and tone that usually don’t work for me in the types of story I want for Beneath Ceaseless Skies.


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2 Comments on “Clarification of "Fairy Tale Fantasy"?”

2 Responses to “Clarification of “Fairy Tale Fantasy”?”

  1. Chris Modzelewski says:

    07-29-2008, 03:44 PM
    Chris Modzelewski

    Scott,

    Thank you very much for the comprehensive clarification! I entirely understand what you mean, and will submit stories accordingly.

    All the best,
    Chris

  2. Scott H. Andrews says:

    07-30-2008, 01:57 PM

    No problem! Glad you found it helpful.

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