Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fairy Tales and how much fun they are to twist

Playing around with ideas for a new story (old premise, fairy tales in the modern world), I was pondering protagonists. Jack (of Beanstalk fame) seems to be pretty popular, and is usually lumped together with those Jacks of hill-falling and candlestick-jumping renown. Likewise every story with a nameless Prince Charming turns into one single womanizing Prince.

These are not bad things. I like their portrayal in The Sisters Grimm and Fables series, but, as fairy tales often do, they make me wander about the gender roles and amalgamation of characters. What if all the Jacks were separate people, what if there was just one Prince per princess/maiden/heroine? What if "Jack" was a girl, either a female version of the smushed together version, or one girl out of a slew of fellas?

One of the nice things about where my brain is going with this is that it lends itself well to short stories. If you've followed this blog for any length of time, I doubt it's a surprise that short stories are not my forte. I like novels. But the idea of a female Jackie amongst half a dozen other male Jacks is intriguing. I don't know if this thread will make it into the novel that's forming, but I want to write a short story and see how I can play with the gender stereotypes. Not just Jacqueline and Jill went up the hill, or Jackie nimbly jumping over things, but perhaps the most popular Jack finding that beanstalk the next morning, climbing, finding treasures to bring back to her mother, and the subsequent task of killing giants that are trying to kill her.

But for now, like with most of my recent stories, I'm just waiting for a plot to catch up with the characters and premise.


Jennifer Ambrose said...

I love these ideas!

Your talk of Jacks made me think of all the Jacks in Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book (more like Jack of All Trades for example, so not the same thing). I actually didn't completely love how he pulled that off, but if you haven't read it yet, it could be another idea to inspire you!

Sabrina said...

I've been mulling over these ideas for a few weeks now, but I read The Graveyard Book a couple days ago (even though I've owned the book for over a year, I read the first page and just didn't get into it at the time, then I picked it up on a whim the other night, read a few pages and devoured it the next morning). So strange that you happened to suggest it now. :D

I thought that NG could've done a little more with the Jacks, but it was interesting. And it made me think of having one Jack be "Of All Trades," especially when there's a line I read in the past week, maybe in TGB, that said a Jack of All Trades knew a little about a lot, rather than being an expert. Well, that's paraphrasing, but I really like that idea, a person who knows how to do everything, but only to a rudimentary or middle level of skill.