ConversationTo write a fairy tale: Narrator: Listen to a conversation between a student and her literature professor. Student: Hi professor Mills. I just have to tell you how much I'm enjoying your class. You knew fairy tales could be so ... so complex, I always thought of them just children stories. Professor: That's certainly a common view. But if you understand that's not necessarily true. Then I've accomplished one of my goals for the class. And I guess you now know that fairy tales have hidden meanings and aren't just for children. Student: Uh. Yeah, there's more than what appears on the surface. It's interesting where they teach a lesson or reflect cultural values. And yet, even though they're so complex their structure is so simple, formulaic even. Which brings me to a question about our next assignment. Professor: Ah, the fairy tale I have asked you to write. Well, the important thing is that it contains the elements we discussed in class – a hero or heroine, a task, a bit of magic and of course a happy ending. Student: Yeah. And that's my problem because it seems so restrictive. In my creative writing class we're always told to avoid using some kind of formula. Professor: Um. I see your issue, but you can still be creative. I just want you to demonstrate that you are familiar with this form of literature. So your story should contain recognizable features of a fairy tale, like the plot structure or typical functions of the characters. They help us identify stories as fairy tales. I want you to be able to separate them from fantasy stories, a whole different genre. Student: Okay. So how do I keep my fairy tale from sounding like everyone else is? Professor: Actually, I expect them all to sound kind of similar as far as the plot elements are concerned, but you can choose the characters. Student: Ah, the elements are the same, but the details are different. Right? Professor: Exactly. Um ... So for example, your hero or heroine goes on a quest to complete a task that seems impossible to complete. But along comes a magical helper, who helps your hero or heroine do the impossible. Now a magical helper and an impossible task, or plot elements that are the same in so many fairy tales. But the details change. The magical helper might be a person, an animal or an object, or in a possible task might be to find berries in winter for example, or anything else you can come up with. Student: Okay, I get it. What about the setting, the time in place? Fairy tales seem timeless. We never really know where or when they take place, though they usually seem to be set in the past. Professor: But that doesn't mean that they have to take place in some unspecified past. Your tale could be set in the present or in the future as long as you captured that timeless quality. Remember, we've talked about this in class. Student: Well, I can see this is going to be a challenge.