Today we welcome author Kaitlin Branch.
Kaitlin Branch is from Omaha, Nebraska. She enjoys things such as running, dancing, singing, writing, and Patrick Stewart pontificating about the letter ‘B’. Her first e-book,Valeria,comes out November 5th, 2012 from Lyrical Press. You can find her (and her husband) at http://www.kaitlinandmichaelbranch.com on facebook at “The Athele Series” or on twitter, @theatheleseries.
by Kaitlin Branch
For every fairy tale there are hundreds of adaptions. Movies, book, spoken word stories, cartoons, costuming, even visual art. Fairy tales are woven into the very fabric of their respective culture and they show up again and again, in varying states of adaption.
Cinderella for instance, has all of these. To give you an idea, there’s more than fifty listed, including Opera, Ballet, Verse, Pantomime and an Ice Show. That’s not even looking at the other classics, just Cinderella.
But why all these adaptions? Why don’t we keep on writing original stuff? Why should you consider, even knowing that there arehundredsof competitors, adapting your own fairy tale?
#1 These stories are fundamentally easy to alter.
Here are the key important points of Cinderella:
- Girl is housekeeper under step-mother’s evil eye.
- Girl goes to huge party with chance to marry a powerful person with help of mystical power.
- Girl loses important and identifying item with which powerful person finds and marries her.
Notice how these things are really general. It doesn’thave to be a ball. It doesn’t haveto be a prince. It can be an airship soiree with a grand Admiral. It doesn’thaveto be a slipper. Heck, it can be a mechanical hand or fake eye! The point is that once you have these key ideas in place, you can go anywhere with the story. Side-trip at a slurpee-stand on the way to the ball? Sure, why not? Steam-powered talking robots? Disney had mice, you can certainly have robots.
#2 These stories are easy to understand.
This sort of stems from fairy tales being easy to adapt. Because the key points are so simple, they are also easy to understand. This is important because in Steampunk, the technology can sometimes boggle the mind. In order to have an good story, you need a good base theme. Fairy tales make a really great base theme, which allows you to spend a little more time on style. As an author, we need to make the story easily understandable and yet still exciting. An adapted Fairy tale allows us to go out on a limb with our telling of the tale. Throw in a complication! Add in an extra character. Because there’s that easy-to-understand base, we’ll catch on quicker but still have just as much fun!
#3 These stories are important to us.
Fairy tales express some extremely basic ideals no matter which form they are in. Romance, love, betrayal, honor, sadness, they’re all in there. Not only that, but their history in our culture (and their parallels with the stories of other cultures) make them incredibly important to us. So the fact that fairy tales are so endlessly adapted shouldn’t be surprising.
Don’t be afraid to capitalize on that. It’s a super cool tradition which you are completely welcome to take part in.
My first published novelette, Valeria,is a riff on the fairy tale of Rapunzel, one which most spectacularly was adapted by Disney lately in Tangled. Disney did an amazing job with it. I’m hoping you’ll like my Steampunk version as well!