On Rulebreaking

I’m taking a college class, and I always like to use anything I write. This assignment was a short journal entry on breaking rules in literature.

I believe that breaking any of the rules should only be done after one has a reasonable amount of experience with writing and to be aware what those rules are (and why they’re rules in the first place!)

Diana Wynne Jones wrote “Howl’s Moving Castle”, which was adopted by Studio Ghibli into a beloved anime classic. She did several things that went against the fairytale trope. The main character is a young girl, but she is cursed so she is an elderly woman throughout most of the story. Most fairytales use characters that are around the same age as the intended audience, or are close enough that younger readers can identify with the protagonist. The story consists of several seemingly unrelated threads that slowly weave themselves into a complete story tapestry in the background. Almost all fairy tales have a singular purpose, and that is to teach the young reader about something important, especially for how life was hundreds of years ago when the original ones were written. Many of the original fairy tales were pretty horrific and gruesome. Ms. Jones does mix in some of that dark world, but she also brings in things such as the whimsical scarecrow that keeps following them around. It’s the bizarre mixture of oddball storylines that makes this book an exceptional tale, one that was good enough to attract Miyazaki from Studio Ghibli and to craft a full-length movie.

Diana has a back catalog of fairytale-inspired stories, and she knows the tropes and purposes of the fantastical genre. What sets her apart from many is that she can use her rulebreaking skills to twist those expectations and plots into something that can be understood by contemporary audiences without it being Disneyfied into something that is far from the original tale or trope.

I hope more folks go out on a limb and try some rulebreaking after they have had someHowlsMovingCastle success, something so out of the ordinary that it gives them the recognition many authors deserve but never find.

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