Fairies seem to be quite popular in fiction (I’ve seen several in the last while, particularly in manuscripts I’m editing). The ones I’ve “encountered” are usually small, cute, have magical powers, but can sometimes be tricksters (they’re cute but not necessarily sweet).
That got me to thinking where “fairytale” originates from. The general dictionary consensus is that a fairytale is a children’s story about magical and imaginary beings and lands.
The genre originates courtesy of different spoken stories passed down through various European cultures. Per Wikipedia: “the genre was first marked out by writers of the Renaissance, such as Giovanni Francesco Straparola and Giambattista Basile, and stabilized through the works of later collectors such as Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm.”
Not sure about the other names, but I’m familiar with the Brothers Grimm, Wilhelm and Jacob. They sported several hats but were perhaps best known for their stories (folk tales), first published in 1812. Thought I’d throw that in there.
I digress, something I do well. In today’s fiction market, what makes a fairytale a fairytale? They’re set in the past is one of the criteria. I’d disagree with that; they can certainly be set in modern times but contain components of that mythical/mystical/magical world that differentiates it from the world as we know it. I’d concur that there’s that once-upon-a-time element, suggesting that the story transpired in another realm (a make-believe one).
Common features of the fairy’s fantasy world—forests seem to be particularly popular—include castles and palaces, villages and rural areas, rivers and streams. Royalty often resides in one form or another. There are bad sorts to challenge the good ones. Additionally, there’s a lesson and/or moral to be found. And, for sure, you have to have a happy ending (or should).
The purpose of this post was to enlighten myself infinitesimally, an amount as miniscule as a flitting fairy.