Tuesday, March 2, 2010

'Murderati' Discusses The Fairy Tale Structure

Last weekend, popular mystery writing site 'Murderati' (think Literati with a twist) discussed the use of 'fairy tale structure' in stories and in putting together a novel. More specifically, the article discusses the fairy tale 'rule of three', which anyone who reads fairy tales regularly will be familiar with, and how incredibly useful it is to use as a template in writing.

Here's an excerpt from the Murderati post (written by Alexandra Sokoloff):

When I respond deeply to a movie or book, no matter how realistic and modern it seems on the surface, chances are it’s going to have a fairy tale structure.

SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, RED DRAGON, THE EXORCIST, THE GODFATHER, A WRINKLE IN TIME, STAR WARS, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, THE TREATMENT (Mo Hayder) – every single one of them is a fairy tale. And fairy tales have their own structural rules that just work for me.

I know JT and Cornelia have blatantly (my favorite approach) used fairy tales in at least a few of their books.

And yes - she talks about Pan's Labyrinth too.

I don't remember if I read this or heard this but I've always thought of the rule of three having specifically this effect: Once is chance, two might be coincidence whereas three is definitely not coincidence! (And therefore important.)

Click HERE to learn more about the 'rule of three' and to see multiple examples in fairy tales.

You can read the whole of this interesting article - which has something for both readers and writers of fairy tales - HERE.

1 comment:

  1. Not to forget the quote from Ian Fleming (Goldfinger):
    "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action."

    Marie-Louise von Franz and Jung have a lot to say about three (and four). Three often means incomplete, and four is complete. So if a tale begins with 3 brothers and 1 princess, it represents an unbalanced psyche, in which the feminine is lacking, and the healing-purpose of the tale is to correct the imbalance.

    Marie-Louise wrote a long piece about 'threeness'. It's titled 'The Number Three as Rhythmic Configuration of Progressive Actualizations in Human Consciousness and the Material Realm'!

    It's a very heavy piece, and covers such topics as the Christian Trinity, and the Chinese I Ching. It's on-line on Google Books:

    If the link doesn't work, the book is 'Number and Time: Reflections Leading to a Unification of Depth Psychology' by Marie-Louise von Franz, and it's chapter 6.