Monday, 25 November 2013

Once upon a time, there lived an aspiring writer

As I mentioned on Friday, I went to a workshop last week: ‘How do you climb a glass mountain? Exploring Fairy Tales Masterclass.’ It was run by the wonderful Jo Blake Cave, who gives her job title as ‘Storyteller’. Isn’t that lovely?

Sixteen of us sat round in a circle, and after some general discussion of what makes a fairy tale (not a fairy story, note, which is a story that has fairies in it), Jo told us her version of the Brothers Grimm tale ‘The Three Languages’, which I must admit I didn’t know.

Then, working in pairs, we had to retell it in our own way. I was surprised how difficult I found this. Clearly I’m not an auditory learner. Next, we had to plot the shape of the story on a graph, marking the fortunate and unfortunate events, and the threshold points that could be said to be decisive moments or turning points in the narrative.

Then we were each given four pieces of paper on which we had to write (1) a problem and a task, (2) a hero(ine), (3) a magical object and (4) a helper. These were shuffled and we were given back a different set of four unrelated elements from which to construct a story.

It was fascinating and tempted though I am to write up the entire two hours I will instead tell you that as well as the four elements above, a fairy tale needs its own internal logic, archetypal landscapes and some manifestation of the rule of three (three wishes, three bears, etc, etc).

Unfortunately, this masterclass came too late to help me write my entry for the recent WM adult fairy tale competition. Now, where’s my magic lantern?

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