How to Write a Fairy Tale

How to Write a Fairy Tale
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Last year in Germany, 500 new fairy tales were discovered. Now we have new fairy tales about King Golden Hair and a girl who turns herself into a pond.

But writing fairy tales isn’t a thing of the past. In fact, there is a literary journal that only publishes fairy tales. See how you too can write a fairy tale by knowing the story structure and how to tap into your own creativity.

Choose Your Fairy Tale Elements

Protagonist

  • Is the good character?
  • Is he/she clever or helped by others?
  • Is he/she Innocent or mistake-prone?

Antagonist

  • How does the evil character work against the protagonist?
  • How does the evil character lose in the end?

Setting

  • Does the story take place centuries ago? Today? In the future?

Royalty

  • Are there castles? Princes? Princesses? Kings? Queens? Wealth?

Poverty

  • Are there poor characters? Families? Orphans?

Magic

  • Is magic used to create obstacles or solutions for protagonist?
  • Who has the magic?

Recurring Numeric Patterns

  • What appears in 3s, 6s, or 7s?

Weave in Common Fairy Tale Motifs

Consider writing in any of these patterns often found in our favorite fairy tales:

  • Talking animals & objects
  • Cleverness & riddles
  • Origin (where we come from) tales
  • Triumph of the poor
  • Human weakness explored (curiosity, pride, laziness, gluttony, etc.)
  • Human strengths glorified (generosity, trust, understanding, patience, etc.)
  • Trickster
  • Exaggerations
  • Magic words or phrases
  • Guardians (fairy godmothers, mentors, magical helpers, guides, etc.)
  • Monsters (dragons, ogres, trolls, etc.)
  • Struggle between good and evil
  • Youngest vs. Oldest
  • Sleep
  • Impossible tasks
  • Quests
  • Keys
  • Donors, Benefactors, Helpers

Define the Moral of the Fairy Tale

  • What is the story’s theme?
  • What is the lesson learned by the protagonist?
  • What is the lesson learned by the readers?

Remember That Fairy Tales Aren’t Just For Kids

Children enjoy fairy tales today, but it fairy tales were told and intended for young adults. That’s because these tales were cautionary guides for young adults on their way to adulthood, showing the listeners the dangers and challenges of adulthood and how to overcome hardship with virtue, prudence, and courage.

The best way to learn how to write fairy tales is by revisiting them. Read a variety of fairy tales not from a reader’s perspective but from the writer’s side. Why did the writer choose this setting? These characters? This dialogue? Why was magic necessary here? Why was an unhappy ending necessary?

13 thoughts on “How to Write a Fairy Tale

    • I’m so glad that I gave you the right pieces to finish your puzzle. Remember that it’s you who found it and you who applied the information to your writing. Will you share the link to your piece here in these comments when it’s finished?

      And thank you for taking the time to read my blog!

      • Hannah G

        Heh, well, I will should there be a link to post. The piece was conceived mainly as writing practice, but I may throw it up on a blog or some such soon.

  1. I just wanted to thank you for this post and let you know that I’ll be linking to it in a few days as part of a rather long analysis of Disney Princesses and their relationship to fairytales and popular culture. If you’re interested, the relevant link will be toward the bottom in the section called “More on Fairytales.”

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