‘Grimm’ lessons for corporate writers and editors

Fairy tales offer important lessons for writers of all stripes—including those who work in the PR and marketing fields, according to the author.

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In his recent book, “Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm,” I was struck by his description of how fairy tales are different from modern fiction and how these differences make the stories work. Pullman writes:

“There is no psychology in a fairy tale. The characters have little interior life; their motives are clear and obvious. The tremors and mystery of human awareness, the whispers of memory, the promptings of half-understood regret or doubt or desire that are so much part of the subject matter of the modern novel are absent entirely.”

The “flatness” of the characters also helps the tales to move along:

“Swiftness is a great virtue in the fairy tale. A good tale moves with a dreamlike speed from event to event, pausing only to say as much as needed and no more. You can only go along that fast, however, if you’re traveling light; so none of the information you’d look for in a modern work of fiction — names, appearances, background, social context, etc., — is present.”

The driving narrative also forces the author to just tell the story, as Pullman told Mother Jones magazine in a recent interview:

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