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Once safely past the harvest season, winter begins, bringing with it a storytelling season that begins in November and runs through the end of the year. The Victorians especially delighted in the tradition of telling spooky tales during the darkest nights of the year, a custom that reaches back hundreds of years. After...

Holiday Horror (Part II)

November 28, 2022
by Carina Bissett

Adapting Folktales

November 18, 2022
by Gail de Vos

Storytellers today are indebted to early scholars who wrote down local stories and preserved them for future audiences. Without these records, many of our most loved stories would have been lost and forgotten.

Through the years, these traditional tales have inspired countless authors, and their structure and themes offer a wealth of ideas for a myriad of story genres and formats....

Gothic Sensibilities

October 26, 2022
by Carina Bissett

As a genre, horror is deeply rooted in the traditions of Gothic literature. These tales express haunting reminders that there is no escape from the past. They contain a creeping sense of dread that is magnified through setting, one of the hallmarks of the subgenre.

Named after the European, medieval architectural style (characterized by cavernous spaces dominated by vaulted ceilings,...

Holiday Horror (Part I)

October 13, 2022
by Carina Bissett

The presence of pumpkin spice, fall color, and lengthening shadows heralds the holiday season. Spectacle soon follows with creepy costumes, jack-o’-lanterns, and haunted attractions. It is the beginning and the end, that dreaded time when the dead walk among the living. After all, there’s a reason one of the most successful slasher film franchises in history is named after a day that...

Horror Sub-Genres (Part II)

September 22, 2022
by Carina Bissett

Horror belongs under a speculative fiction umbrella that also includes fantasy and science fiction, and while horror is identified by its ability to create intense feelings of terror, shock, or disgust in the audience, the genre’s aesthetic often infiltrates its sister genres.

These crossovers—such as dark fantasy and sci-fi horror—have joined the speculative fiction ranks of subgenres...

Horror as a Genre (Part I)

September 10, 2022
by Carina Bissett

One of the three main categories of speculative fiction, horror is a traditional genre of literature and film designed to produce a sense of dread or fear in the audience. Rooted in folk literature, horror stories can feature supernatural elements such as ghosts, witches, demons, ghouls, and monsters. However, horror can also be written in the style of realism (i.e., set in the real...

Resonating Your Writing Using Mythic Structure, Part 2

August 29, 2022
by Jim Jackson

In Part One in this series, we talked about folktales being stories stripped of everything but essential human truths. And we asked you to think of a folktale that speaks to the best and oldest part of who you are.

Now, let’s look at the four story elements we discussed last time and use them to reverse engineer our folktales. These elements will help us uncover the frameworks we need...

Resonating Your Writing Using Mythic Structure, Part 1

August 21, 2022
by Jim Jackson

Myths and folktales have an intrinsic power to move us. They seem to have always been around. Why is that?

Why do our hearts open when the glass slipper fits and Cinderella is united with her Prince? Why do we smile when Hansel and Gretel shove the witch into the oven?

As humans, we’ve evolved to consume information through story form. Stories are the best way natural selection...

What is a folktale?

July 25, 2022
by Gail de Vos

Folktales are traditional stories, told by anonymous folk, about ordinary people having extraordinary adventures. Fairy tales are a subset that includes major characters with magical powers such as fairy godmothers, the wee folk, and genies. These days, the boundary between folk and fairy tales has become blurred, as many of the stories we now call fairy tales have very little to do with the...