These days, the students at Fortellerkunst (oral storytelling) are working with wondertales. Wondertales are a subcategory of folktales, often called the real folktale. The Norwegian word “Eventyr” comes from the Latin word «adventura» which means a strange or wonderful event. A folktale is described as following:
A story of prose who has lived in oral tradition and has a fictitious content, «which is not being believed in”. It’s a story that has it’s foundation in experienced life, but breaks all reasonable boundaries and often the content is supernatural and imaginative. (Bø m.fl. 1982:11)
The folktale is without time and place, it is based on motives that once were living beliefs. The folktale is characterized by stylistic characteristics such as “the rule of three”, and opening and ending formulas.
Wondertales – this category of folktales is called the real folktales and they are a pleasure to tell. The British storyteller Hugh Lupton once said that wondertales are popularized myths and you undoubtedly find many mythical aspects in a wonder ale. Wondertales are characterized by being long and multi-episodic, they manifest a magical world where the hero or heroines fight against supernatural powers and must solve a variety of tasks.
Wondertales are some of my favorite stuff to work with, they demand so much of me. At the same time, they are complicated to tell, how to solve the fact that they are multi-episodic? How to handle all the repetitions? How to keep the tension?
When it comes to tension, you can think on variation between what is safe to listen to and where the story becomes an insecure place to be. You can look at the safe place as an everyday dialogue between you and the listener. But when the tension rises, you need another mental room that you mark through changing the storyteller mode, you may tell slower, maybe you use more breaks, maybe you’ll physically drag back into the room to create a greater distance to the listener.
Repetitions are a code, use the listeners as an interactive partner, use rhyme and rhythms so that the repetitions are perceived as a ritual one go through to grow with the story.
The multi-episodic makes the story seem like a long bad year if you are not dynamic and varied. Give the characters direct speech to make it clear that it’s actually about human beings.
A wondertale is a never finished process, after a few years the story you once started may appear as something else. You have changed and the story has grown. A wondertale is thus a story you should never give up.