Mythical creatures in a modern setting... how would a modern-day protagonist react to meeting a fairy tale creature?

by Leanne Atley
(Vancouver, BC, Canada)

Hi there, I'm currently trying to develop an outline for a story idea that's been churning around my mind for ages now. It's a romance/modern day fairy tale (more Hans Christian Anderson-tragic than Disney-comic). In it, my female protagonist, a high-school student with a critical mind, discovers a naiad/water nymph living in the lake on her family's rural property. Trying to envision and write about how she would react in the situation is probably one of my biggest challenges for this story. I've read a number of books involving modern characters meeting mythical creatures (namely vampires), but I've always found it hard to be convinced that their responses were realistic. I think that most characters are too easily accepting of fantastical beings (that said, I know a guy who convinced one of my friends that he was a vampire and she believed him wholeheartedly, but that's a different story).

Basically, my character is fairly rational and wouldn't readily believe in fairy tale creatures, but I'm not sure how to write about it. She might think that the naiad is a freaky hippie involved in some sort of pagan/wiccan wilderness-dwelling cult, or she might just call the police, or... I don't know. On one hand I really want to flesh out how she eventually comes to accept the unbelievable, but at the same time I don't want the story to drag on with the reader yelling "believe in it, already!" If you have any suggestions for how to write a believable "two-worlds-collide" scene, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks very much!

Answer: I think your solution is to simply keep your main character in the centre of events that she has to deal with even if she can't explain them. Maybe she doesn't know what to think at first, but the evidence of her senses is hard to ignore, especially if she is compelled to take action to cope with problems and challenges in front of her.

In other words, while you're busy fighting alligators, you don't have time to speculate on how they came to be in your kitchen.

By the end, after she has seen and experienced so many things she doesn't understand, she may be ready to accept an explanation that would have seemed preposterous in Chapter One.

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