Fairy Tales As Inspiration with Francesca Lia Block

Craft a contemporary fairy tale using classical inspirations: multifaceted characters, enthralling plot twists, mesmerizing otherworlds, and timeless themes.

Your Instructor: Francesca Lia Block, author of the Weetzie Bat Books and The Thorn Necklace

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: This class is not currently enrolling. To be notified when it is offered again, Click Here


Price: $350

Class Description

Everyone loves a good fairy tale; there's a reason they're classic. But how do you blend those elements into a modern story?

This four-week class looks at the way traditional fairy and folk tales can inspire contemporary literature through characterization, plot, setting, style and theme. Students will create and/or revise their own fairy or folk tales (a contemporary retelling of an existing tale or a story containing certain elements of the original), either starting from scratch in response to the assignments or developing a work in progress. Each week you will receive a brief lecture, a discussion topic and an assignment.

Your instructor, Francesca Lia Block, is the author of over twenty-five acclaimed and award-winning works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, including the memoir/writing guide The Thorn Necklace: Healing Through Writing and the Creative Process and the cult classic Dangerous Angels: Weetzie Bat Books.

What This Class Covers

Week 1: Introduction and Character

After defining the fairy tale, picking one as inspiration and sharing it with the class, we will begin to look at character. In traditional fairy tales, the main character is often inherently “good” or “gifted” while the contemporary hero/ine is both gifted and flawed, with room to grow on their arc. Traditional characters can be “stock types” while contemporary characters are usually more nuanced. We will discuss ways to create dimensional protagonists (and antagonists) based on the traditional characters in the original tales.

Week 2: Plot

The scholar Vladimir Propp categorized thirty-one elements of the traditional tale.  We will look at these elements as a way to inspire or expand plot through conflict.

Week 3: Setting

Many traditional tales take the protagonist into an “otherworld” in the middle of the story. We will look at how to utilize a literal or figurative otherworld to expand the story and challenge the protagonist.

Week 4: Voice and Theme

For our final assignment, we will discuss the traditional fairy tale voice versus the contemporary voice. We will also look at the themes that attracted us to the original stories in the first place and examine the personal themes we want to add or emphasize.

Goals Of This Class

You will learn:

  • Definitions of fairy tales
  • How to create dimensional characters based on traditional tropes
  • How to create a complex plot using the fairy tale and the work of Vladimir Propp as inspiration.
  • How to create an “otherworld” to test the character
  • How to create magic through voice
  • How to develop themes that are of most relevance to the writer
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