Found a pretty interesting opinion about what makes a fairytale here. Creative Writing is sometimes so constrained. Like everything, there are rules, but sometimes those rules can become rather claustrophobic.
Are fairytales not actually fairytales if they don’t start with ‘Once Upon a Time…’? Do they have to follow certain structural rules? If that’s the case, it would make it near impossible to write fairytale flash fiction.
I like Rogers’ take on it – you can disregard the rules, the characteristic and structural necessities. If it feels like a fairytale, you’ve achieved your goal. So, the first critic is yourself. And no matter how harsh a critic you are on your own work, you’re easier to please than your readers will be.
We learned in class, at the very beginning of studying Creative Writing, that a story only belongs to you when no one else has read it. As soon as you share it, it no longer belongs to just you. The ideas, feelings, characters…they’re not just yours anymore. You have no right to tell someone they’re wrong for what they feel or think about the story, because you have no claim to their imagination.
Everyone who writes, does it for their own pleasure, they do it because a story or certain characters won’t leave you alone until you start paying them attention – a symptom of insanity in some cases, but a writer’s reality in most. There’s something rather sad about the characters you spend so much time with not fully belonging to you anymore. It’s exciting when the person you share it with gets it, but it’s devastating when they don’t.
So, the next critic is your reader. Do they think the story achieves what you hoped it would? Does it really matter if it didn’t? Your success is pinned on other people understanding your intention or premise. However, another opinion or a different read can actually be illuminating. Either way, in the end, it isn’t your story now. They read it, they now own a little piece.
That’s why I always liked English class growing up: the teacher could never tell you: You’re wrong.
Fairytales aren’t that much different to other stories. If you want to eventually publish a story, you should write for an audience. To write well, you have to know who that audience is. Is it for children, young adult, new adult, adults…is it fantasy, sci-fi, horror, thriller, romance…? Fairytale has its rules, just like any other story. You just have to understand who you’re writing for and, most importantly, understand your story and characters.