Writing fiction is a versatile art form. In this series of “types of fiction,” I’ll not only identify and define different types and styles of fiction, I’ll help you find resources right here in Long Beach.
Note: Since March 21-28 is Weird Folk Tales & Fables Week, I thought I’d talk about folk tales, tall tales and fables today.
Folk tales, tall tales and fables defined
Folk tales come from the oral tradition of story telling, before writing was invented and widely used. Often they teach lessons about every day life while using quirky or fantastic tales. Fairy tales are a subgenre of folk tales that include magic, faire folk and good triumphing over evil. Tall tales are stories with unbelievable elements treated as if they were factual and true. Often, tall tales are exaggerations of actual events, although many have no basis in fact but just involve familiar surroundings. Fables are short tales with a moral lesson, often using animals or inanimate objects as the protagonists.
Examples of folk tales, tall tales and fables
- Goldilocks and the Three Bears – a little girl happens upon an empty cottage where three bears live
- Little Red Riding Hood – a little girl who wears a red cloak helps out wit a wolf that eats her grandmother
- Cinderella – a young woman, tormented by her stepmother and stepsisters finds love with a handsome prince
- Johnny Appleseed – a man spread apple tree throughout the US
- Pecos Bill – an American cowboy who helped tame the wild west
- Paul Bunyan – a giant lumberjack and his blue ox helps chop down forests (back when that was a good thing)
- The Ant and the Grasshopper – warns against laziness and procrastination
- The Tortoise and the Hare – warns against sitting on ones laurels and preaches the benefits of stick-to-it-tiveness.
- The Boy Who Cried Wolf – warns of the dangers of lying
Resources for writing folktales, tall tales and fables
Aesop wasn’t the only one to write fables. There are authors writing fables even today, including Bill Willingham, author of the Fables graphic novels. Re-writing follk tales in your own voice is a common modern literary form. And who hasn’t told a tall tale or two in their day? Here are some resources to help you write your own folk tales, tall tales and fables.
- Write Your Own Fairy Tale by Rosinsky and Natalie M
- The Science of Fairy Tales: An Inquiry into Fairy Mythology by Edwin Sidney Hartland
- Write Your Own Tall Tale by Rosinsky and Natalie M
- Literature & Writing Workshop: Exploring Tall Tales (Scholastic)
- Essays on the Art of Writing & Fables by Robert Louis Stevenson
- The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales 3-volume set by Donald Haase
- Encyclopedia of Fable by Mary Ellen Snodgrass
Folk tales, tall tales and fables in Long Beach
The library at California State University Long Beach has a collection of folklore, mythology and fairy tales, which you can learn about at www.csulb.edu/library/subj/folklore.html. This could be a value resource when you are researching for your own folk tales, tall tales and fables.
Every year, Toastmasters International holds a Tall Tales Speech contest. The contest for my club was held a couple of weeks ago and the winner will be moving on to the next level at the Area contest this Friday.
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