Friday, July 19, 2019

Transformative Fairytelling

It's been a busy, messy week involving surgeries (one complicated and expensive, the other not so much), a drama queen, an all-nighter (which was last night - I'm running on two hours of sleep so no warranties expressed or implied as to the coherence of my post). Oh yeah. And a book re-release.

I wish I'd worded this little piece of pretty differently, but what the heck. 

I was also invited to step into a podcast to talk about the creative process, the excuses that derail it, and how to approach overcoming those. If you want a listen, check out Creativity Quest on Sound Cloud or on If you prefer video, the episode is also available from the Creativity Quest YouTube channel. Truth: The sole reason for vid was the opportunity for kitty photo bombing. Which happens. Now you can make an informed choice.

We're writing about fairytales - which ones inform our work and which ones we want to write. I come from a Jungian background, which translates into having followed the work of Joseph Campbell for more years than I want to admit. I love the fact that a folklorist made the psychology myth and fairytales so accessible that he and his work entered popular culture. Most of us are familiar with the hero's journey cycle. It's the basis for most TV, movies, and genre fiction in Western culture. But there's also a heroine's journey. It's very similar to the hero's journey in most respects. There's the call to adventure, the descent into the Underworld, mentors, gatekeepers, everything we're familiar with. It shifts near the very end. In the hero's cycle, the hero has to conquer the monster(s) facing him or her. (The great thing about these story cycles is that gender is meaningless - you could just as easily say 'protagonist' rather than hero if you don't want to get hung up on gender.) In the heroine's journey, rather than conquering or defeating the monster, the protagonist's challenge is to transform the monster(s). It's a subtle shift, but the implications can be really profound both from a character standpoint and from a plot standpoint. How do you overcome someone or something you can't kill (because to kill or destroy would also wreck your character arc and you would fail your quest). I feel like the romance genre spends a lot of time and page space exploring the differences between hero's and heroine's journeys and I love when I run across a book that unabashedly gives all that transformational power to its protagonist.

If I get to play around with fairytales and myths in my stories, I want it to be from within the confines of the heroine's journey. I'll admit that Enemy Within didn't make that benchmark. It is solidly a hero's journey rather than a heroine's, but that's my aspiration.

As to which fairytale I prefer? I'm an author trying really hard to grab my own glass slipper. I'm comfortably certain you can work that one out. :)

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