It's been a while since I posted about it, but I haven't forgotten about the "diversified fairytales" plan. I've been planning to lead this project, while involving a lot of discussion, so feel free to query any points in this post (or in the comments) and discuss them. Some of this has already been discussed with a couple of people, but it's still not certain.
For those of you who might be new to the project, this
is the original post about it, and this is the original idea: to create an anthology made up of 'diversified' retellings, which bring to the fore stories, characters and issues that are typically ignored or deliberately excluded by tradition.
Here are some thoughts I've had on things we need to discuss. I apologise if this seems disorganised: I've never tried to do anything like before.Things that would not be allowed:
-Fanfiction. It's a legal gray area, for one thing, and we're looking to publish it, so characters and worlds copyright to other people are out of bounds. (There could be some discussion of allowing derivative works based on out-of-copyright canons. If you want to do something like that, let me know before you start work and we'll try to puzzle out the legality of it and whether it fits within the scope of the project.)
-Erotica. While stories should not stigmatise sex, I think we want to make something accessible. Including sex is fine, but I'd say not higher than R-rated, and it should not be the entire point of the story.Stories that would be allowed:
-Traditional fairytales. Examples: Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, etc. Be wary of using anything Disney can claim is copyright, though.
-Myths. Examples: Cupid & Psyche, the Trojan war, the Mabinogion, etc.
-Legends. Examples: King Arthur, Robin Hood, etc.
-Fables. Example: Aesop's fables, etc.
-Original fairytales/myths/legends. Example: Neil Gaiman's Stardust. By this I mean anything that uses the tropes of fairytales (or myths/legends) to create a new story. If you want to write a creation myth for a hypothetical fantasy world, for example, that would be appropriate.
Basically, one of those stories we tell and retell. I'm going to collect a list of resources for where to get source texts for free online, so feel free to send me links to add. Ways to diversify:
-Using myths/legends/folktales from traditions not well known in the West. (It may be well known in the country of origin, but it hasn't been taken up by the West.)
-Including characters of different races, or expanding their roles, in texts where they have been excluded deliberately or used as the generic 'heathens', etc.
-Including characters who do not fit into the normal gender roles given by the original stories, or expanding their roles. I don't want to include a gazillion stories that simply recast the traditional ones with flipped gender roles, but women are often given very unsatisfactory roles in these stories. I'm also talking about including transgendered and agendered characters, who have even less place in the traditional stories we tell.
-Including characters whose sexuality does not fit into the traditional roles. This would include homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, and also polyamorous relationships, and possibly also kink-positive ones (bearing in mind that we would want the focus to be on the relationship, not on sex).
-Including characters who have disabilities, whether inherited genetically or received during their lifetime. (E.g. a princess who was born unable to see, or a soldier who lost a leg, etc.)
-Including characters who are not neurotypical in positive roles. Villains can be mentally ill, in these stories, but it's rare for this to be treated with compassion or accuracy.
We're trying to make a collection where there is space for everyone to see something of themselves and their own experiences, in short. Rewrites that simply involve defence of the villainous characters, for example, are interesting, but not appropriate here. 'Dark' retellings are also not necessarily automatically relevant. Either of these could be relevant if coupled with other ways of diversification, of course. The list above is not exhaustive, and I'm happy to discuss adding other things to it -- I have my blindspots, and would appreciate anyone pointing out if I've left something important out.Other notes:
It's important to remember that this material comes with baggage. Often its deeply misogynistic, and that could even be unintentionally intensified in a rewrite. I'm happy to discuss plans with people, and I'm sure other participants in the project would volunteer to help as well. We as writers also carry our own prejudice, with everything we write, so please be aware of and sensitive to that.
When it comes to the length of these stories, I think they should all be somewhere between 200 and 5,000 words. Microfiction is welcome, as are longer short stories, but we're not going to go as far as accepting novellas!
Re: publishing: my thoughts are pretty much Smashwords, Lulu and the Kindle store, but people with other suggestions to add are very welcome to do so. The ebooks would be non-DRM, and if there is a fee for buying the book, it would be nominal. Personally, I'm inclined towards a nominal fee, and whatever profits we get being donated to charitable causes, but I'm not wedded to any idea yet. Again, discussion is welcome. What this comes down to is that I don't have money to pay you for your stories -- this is a one woman operation, here! Whatever happens, each person would have some space to talk about who they are, what other things they've written and where they can be found, things like that.
I haven't thought much about submission yet. I do want to warn you that I'm not going to automatically accept everything. I will probably ask for a couple of volunteers to read everything and help me decide, but we'll be limited based on how many submissions we get, the diversity of submissions, the quality of submissions, etc. Just because you're my friend will not be an automatic pass.
If you've already published such a story, as long as you still have the right to have it published elsewhere, it's welcome.
We will not only need authors, but someone to make a cover for the collection. I'd welcome volunteers, or we could wait and see whose work will be included and at that point club together to commission a cover...
I will also need help with understanding if there's any legalities I need to be aware of and deal with, anywhere in the process. I am a total newbie to doing this.
Right. Deep breath! I think this is ready to post. As I've said, remember that I intend everything to be up for discussion, and while I do see myself as the final decision maker, I will ask for advice and listen to other people's views.