Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sarah's Genre-Savvy Guide to Fairytale Survival

Maybe you know how it happened, maybe you don't, but one way or another, you've found yourself not in your own familiar world but in that of a fairytale retelling- and a very Grimm world it is! Naturally, you want to find a way back home, but in order to do that, you need to know how to keep from getting yourself trapped, killed, or worse. But never fear! Sarah is here to help with 10 simple tips that will- hopefully- keep you in one piece and unbewitched until you're safely in your world again!

  1. First and foremost, familiarize yourself with the local folklore. Most of them will probably have at least a grain of truth, if not more. Pay special attention to the creepy legends that no one likes to talk or think about and that are only mentioned in fearful whispers. These will, almost undoubtedly, turn out to be absolutely true in the worst possible way.
  2. On a related note, supposedly magical forests, haunted castles, and similar places are rumored to be this way for a reason! As a general rule of thumb, these places are also to be avoided- the less entangled you get with magical places (and, by extension, the magical beings that inhabit them), the safer you'll be! However, as it's not unlikely that finding your way home will involve going to one or more of these places (for various reasons), you should be familiar with where they are and what stories surround them.
  3. As I mentioned, getting entangled with fairy folk and similar tends to lead to trouble. However, the odds are that you will end up having to deal with them at some point. This leads to my next tip: do not tick off the fairies. Even the nice ones often have a tendency to overcompensate for perceived insults. Be polite and respectful- but don't be a pushover.
  4. Likewise, be nice to the old people. This should go without saying, really- what kind of person goes around being nasty to their elders?- but it's worth mentioning. After all, old people in fairytales have a tendency to be magical beings in disguise- and even if they aren't, they usually have pretty good advice. So, yeah, respect them. If they're  Also: if you meet them on the road, offer to share your lunch. They appreciate that. 
  5. Another thing: talking frogs are, invariably, enchanted princes or such. Other talking animals could go either way- cats and birds, in particular, tend to be shapeshifted fairy folk or just animals who happen to be able to speak like humans- but frogs will always, always be enchanted. 
  6. This next piece of advice is a really, really major one: if you must make bargains with fairy folk, enchanters, or anyone who's magical or not fully human in any way, be extremely cautious. If possible, don't make bargains at all; at least 90% of fairytale troubles occur simply because a character strikes a deal with someone or something. Not all bargains are bad, of course, but make one with the wrong being and you'll find yourself having to pay a lot more than you want to. In extreme cases, they end with someone dying or worse. (Yes, there is worse. Twelve Dancing Princesses remakes, in particular, seem to be full of this.) So, whenever possible, do not make bargains with magical beings. Of course, sometimes it's either a bargain or immediate death, in which case, well . . . you're in trouble either way, but at least if you make the bargain, you might have a chance of escaping later on. Even so, if you must make a bargain, be as careful as possible. Do not, under any circumstances, leave loopholes that the being with whom you're making the bargain can exploit. Likewise, if you agree to give something up, make sure you know exactly what the something is; don't say something like "whatever is standing behind my house" or "the first thing that greets me when I get home." 
  7. Also, as a wise cat once said, "Don't go giving bits of yourself to anybody." This can include hair, blood, teeth . . . even personal possessions, in the hands of certain beings. Best-case scenario, possessing a bit of you will allow the being to play Evil Twin and do a lot of nasty things that people will blame you for. Worst-case scenario, well . . . let's not go there. I can think of at least three possibilities, and none of them are pleasant to consider.
  8. Moving on from bargain-making: do not eat the fairies' food, even if they offer it to you! This goes for any food or drink offered by magical people or beings in general. Usually, this will result in the fairies or other beings gaining some kind of power over you, or your not being able to leave "fairyland" (wherever that happens to be). In occasional cases, it'll just make you lose your taste for human food . . . but that's still not very good, as you'll end up starving to death. However, food offered by wizards and other humans with magical powers (other than witches) is generally safe.
  9. If you get involved in any kind of quest, a good thing to remember is that things tend to happen in threes. So if you've faced two monsters, there will probably be a third (bigger) monster through the next door. Completed two challenges? There'll be another one coming. Met up with two mysterious old ladies offering you gifts? You'll come upon another one before you get wherever you're going. Keep this rule in mind and you'll have a slightly better idea what to be on the watch for.
  10. Finally, the simplest solution will often work, even if it doesn't make sense. Remember: you're in a fairytale, possibly even in fairyland. Things work differently here. Sometimes, the faster you run, the slower you get anywhere, and the easiest way to see what can't be seen is to look for its shadow. Essentially, don't just consider the possibilities; think of the impossibilities as well.  
In the end, of course, most of these tips come down to respect, kindness, and common sense- and a bit of uncommon sense as well. Keep that in mind and you should have little trouble surviving your fairytale and finding your way back home- not to mention having a nice bit of adventure while you're at it.
Best wishes!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade) 


  1. Oh, and you forgot the most important one: True Love's Kiss can break almost any spell - especially if it's of the First variety.

    Talking deer - especially if they're white - are usually enchanted princes/princesses as well.

    Be either an only child, a third child, or a seventh child.

    If a talking animal or otherwise enchanted being gives you explicit instructions, follow them to the letter. If they say to make sure you only touch the horse they've told you to steal, only touch the horse. It will be better for all parties involved (except for the previous owners of the horse, but they didn't deserve that equine anyways.)

    (You weren't inspired by my post today ... were you?)

    1. Oops! How did I forget that one? Or the one about the explicit instructions . . . that's another biggie. *nods* Thanks for the reminders.
      (And no, I actually had this in mind for a few days, since I'd been reading Wildwood Dancing and thinking about how people in fairytales tend to make a lot of the same mistakes.)

    2. I still find it amusing that you addressed some of the issues I brought up in my commentary yesterday. Great minds think alike and all that.

      And, actually, there is a way around the eldest clause - make sure your younger siblings are step-siblings, or at least half-siblings. Otherwise, yes, just marry a peasant - or if you're a prince or princess - whatever foreign prince/princess your parents already have picked out for you. DO NOT go and try to steal your younger brother's prize, however. That will end in disaster. (Banishment or death - your choice.)

  2. I love it! You're spot on with these. Fairy tales are so awesome. I'm actually writing a collection of my own! :)

    Here's another one- If you are the eldest child, don't bother trying to be a hero. Just marry a peasant and live a simple life.

    1. Thanks! And cool!

      Also generally true. *nods* (Though unfortunate for you and I . . .)

    2. Indeed. That as actually the inspiration for one of my latest novels. :D It's not finished yet, but it's coming along.

  3. HA! This is great. I know that, personally, the last time I didn't follow these rules, I ended up an enchanted hand mirror for a few hundred years. ; D

  4. What a helpful post! Ah, thank you for these words of wisdom and warning; i'll keep them in mind next time I find myself in a fairy-tale. :)

  5. If you end up in a magical world, and someone says you are a prophesied hero come to save the world, don't waste your breath saying you aren't, and you can't. Because like as not, they're right.


I'd love to hear your thoughts! But remember: it pays to be polite to dragons.