How to write a fairy tale
Writing fairy tales is easy!
So you want to know how to write a fairy tale? I can tell you how. I am professional writer for more than twenty years and I wrote about three hundred fairy tales and short stories for children, all published (radio shows, magazines, picture books, collections of short stories and audio books).
I am among most popular authors in Slovenia and I got several awards for my writings for kids and adults. Most important of all, I can support my family with my work and stories for kids are among best family resources because of their potential of passive income producing.
Enough about me. You came here to learn about writing. I have a good news: writing a fairy tale is pretty easy. Same stands for every kind of story writing, including stories for kids. In most cases you need just couple of hours to make your very own if you follow some simple rules.
I'll try to present them as illustrated step by step instructions. Look at them, take some time to enjoy their beauty and think about great stories they represent.
Hi ho, let's go!
(Intro image by Hermann Vogel, all used images are public domain, sources: Archive.org and Gutenberg.org)
Writing a tale...
You need a hero...
You need a character your audience can relate with. It can be human being, animal, plant or object. It really doesn't matter, but in practice humans and animals were always best for the main role.
If you want a teapot playing main character in your fairy tale, be my guest. Hans Christian Andersen and Oscar Wilde wrote several pretty good ones with objects in leading roles but even in their best works main characters are humans or animals.
The most important thing is set of characteristics. Your hero must have some characteristics the reader of fairy tale can relate to. Is he funny? Smart? Brave? Nice? Good-looking? And even more important: what are his shortcomings? Is he too small? Too weak? Too shy? Too lazy? Boring?
Good example is a main character in Valiant Little Tailor. Every child, boy or girl, can totally relate with him because every kid has to deal with mean spirited giants (adults who simply have too much power) on daily basis.
Make your hero believable!
Positive set of characteristics makes your character a hero.
But only with some faults he can be believable hero!
We can debate about equal rights, living in 21st century and so on, but let's face it: lady in trouble always sounds great as a basic story synopsis.
Almost all of most famous (or may I say popular or even profitable) fairy tales of all times use that idea. Kids of both genders can easily sympathize with girl in some sort of trouble, because...
Well, kids are in all sorts of troubles most of the time too. No problem to identify with a hero of the story... So if you want to know how to write a story for kids, you actually just put your main character in some sort of troubles
O.k., we have a hero or heroine, but we certainly need something else!
(Little Red Riding Hood, illustrated by Walter Crane)
Do you prefer reading a book to learn the tricks of the trade?
Writing stories is a craft, everybody can do that:)
For some reason many of us decide to write a fairytale. Most of these creations will never be published but they can still give us tremendous pleasure when we make them and read them. Just to ourselves or to wider audience.
The basic rules are really simple and they can be covered by a cheat sheet presented in this page. But in most cases you will still need a little extra to make a really good story for kids. Maybe you can get some help from the books written by people who had already done it several times?
They share their tips in great books in your nearest store: Amazon on-line!
Creating a good character takes some time
Yes, creating interesting and convincing character can be time consuming. Actually pretty time consuming.
But I can disclose you a little trick (I use it all the time, but I have some even better tricks in my sleeve).
When you create a good character, you can use him (or her) in many fairy tales or stories.
Of course even the greatest character is not enough!
Every single story (for kids or not) needs a setting
Yours should be no exception
What is a setting? Well, think about place and time of your story. Does it start once upon a time when young girl must leave her home because of poverty, or is it a modern tale about divorced parents who fight for their only kid?
What is its range? Will everything happen in couple of minutes, or will it last for decades?
How important will your setting be? Will determine heroes' actions or will just add some touch of credibility?
Don't forget the possible symbolic meanings of setting! Fairy tales are stories about growing up. So in most cases you should start a story with a kid or youngster facing a great challenge. Challenge should be bigger than him, it should be so big, the reader could feel the possibility of being lost in the situation.
And what is better place to be lost in than dark dark woods?
Send your hero on the mission!
What is his quest? Is he searching for wealth? Love? Wisdom? Wants to rescue or protect somebody? Set his goal!
Set it high!
Then think again...
Can you set it even higher?
Perfect opponent in is of course... - ...the evil witch!
Put your hero in some serious troubleClick thumbnail to view full-size
Reward on the end of the journey should be spectacular!
Don't forget -.in most of great stories the biggest obstacle to heroes' success is hero himself!
In quest for success we really have only our limitations. So we have to overcome them, improve ourselves and earn a reward - a change, become responsible and respective part of society.
Introduce a helper...
In old stories for kids we have wise men, in fairy tales fairies, in real life friends, ...
With a helper you don't only introduce a new skill, you can open a whole new world of interactions among characters.
Human being is never a lone island. Even Robinson Crusoe had Friday!
...or more helpers!
... the more the merrier!
Don't underestimate side-characters!
In most stories a side-character is introduced only because of his function (to do something instead of hero, to give him important information, magic object, etc.), but it is your job to at least try adding him some depth.
Think about the hunter in Snow White. Think about his dilemmas. He surely didn't want to hurt Snow White, but if he wouldn't listen the evil queen, he would put in danger his and his family's lives!
Every dilemma makes a story stronger, more recognizable, better!
Now you just need to add a pinch of magic!
Make your stories through play! - Writing stories as a child's play!
Yes, you read it right. Making your own stories is fun and you don't even have to be literate for this. You can actually learn how to write a story for kids without noticing you are learning!
A fairy tale or a story?
If you wanted learn how to write a story for kids, you can skip this part.
But if you want to write a fairy tale, some kind of magic should be added too!
Most effective climax is a confrontation of the heroes with their nemesis
The final confrontation
Don't be too easy on your hero or the audience. Especially don't be too easy on yourself!
We all know how fairy tale should end...
But if you want to write great story add something special, some surprise, maybe humor, unexpected twist, just something to remember.
Note: harder the battle, more glorious the win!
Give your audience a happy ending!
They breathed and trembled with your hero.
They expect happy ending.
They deserve it!
Do you believe, you can write a fairy tale now?
Well, do you?
It is really nothing extraordinary. In fact everybody already lives his very special fairy tale right now!