I watched a movie called Winter’s Bone recently, based on a book of the same name, and it made me want to write a story that follows a girl on a sort of Folk-Tale Epic type journey set in modern day West Virginia. Similar in style to the Folk Tale, Mutsmag. If you’ve never heard the tale, which is likely, here’s a rendition, which I honestly haven’t watched yet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bydwEkRKq1Q
Anyway, the point of this post is it made me wonder what are the components of the type of story that I want to write? What gives it that feel that I’m going for: sort of cold and lonely with a purpose. So I looked up elements of a “Folk Legend” and 1.) found out that doesn’t really exist and 2.) there are a lot of differences between an epic, a legend, a myth, a fairy-tale, and folklore. I read this great article on a magical site called about.com–http://classiclit.about.com/cs/10th14thcentury/a/aa_definemyth.htm
In short, here’s the difference:
Myth-It’s sort of like folklore, but it focuses on how a culture came to be. Think of Greek, Roman, Norse, etc mythology. Or the Mayan myth of the earth being on the back of a giant turtle in the middle of the ocean. These stories are generally sacred in nature.
Folklore-these are also cultural, but they follow one person or animal’s journey as they deal with everyday life and oftentimes include superstitions from a given culture, as in Mutsmag.
Legend-historical in nature, these stories haven’t been proven to be true, but have a lasting effect on their culture and change as they continue to be handed down from generation to generation and from culture to culture. Think of King Arthur, Blackbeard, or Robin Hood. All based in a particular part of history, none proven true, many variations, and they’ll continue to live on and have lasting relevance.
Fairytale-The popular notion is that they’re meant for children, but this wasn’t always the case. They focus on fantastical creatures and other realms, so they’ll include fairies, witches, ghosts, ghouls, giants, that sort of thing. Though what a fairytale actually is has been disputed. C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, for example, have different views on what a fairytale should be. Makes me think of Romantic literature (aka Romantic era, not lovey-dovey…well, sometimes).
So that’s hopefully accurate. From these definitions, I’ll be going for more of a Folktale/Fairy-tale hybrid. And they can always be tweaked; I don’t have to stick with the traditional way of viewing a fairy-tale. But does it cease to be a fairy-tale? Hm…
One of my favorite legends has been passed down from generation to generation. A mighty blog-reader subscribed to the blog pretending to be magical, and then it became truly magical instead of just pretending! Oh, and that blog-reader was you. Because you know you want to. Or, if you’ve already subscribed, feel free to leave comments.