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How to write a fairy tale

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...

Jack and Giant by Arthur Rackham

Jack and Giant by Arthur Rackham

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.

Great example of heroine in fairy tales

Great example of heroine in fairy tales

...or heroine!

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!

Snow White by Franz Juttner

Snow White by Franz Juttner

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!

Jack and Beanstalk by Jessie Wilcox Smith

Jack and Beanstalk by Jessie Wilcox Smith

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!

Reward on the end of the journey should be spectacular!

Source: Wikipedia.org, PD licence

Source: Wikipedia.org, PD licence

Don't forget -.in most of great stories the biggest obstacle to heroes' success is hero himself!

Narcissus admiring his image

Narcissus admiring his image

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...

illustration by William H. Robinson

illustration by William H. Robinson

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!

Snow White by Franz Juttner

Snow White by Franz Juttner

... the more the merrier!

Cinderella from Alexander Zick

Cinderella from Alexander Zick

Now you just need to add a pinch of magic!

Cinderella and Fairy Godmother by Oliver Herford

Cinderella and Fairy Godmother by Oliver Herford

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!

Most effective climax is a confrontation of the heroes with their nemesis

Hansel and Gretel by Arthur Rackahm

Hansel and Gretel by Arthur Rackahm

Three Little Pigs by Leonard Leslie Brooke

Three Little Pigs by Leonard Leslie Brooke

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!

Source: Archive.org, PD licence

Source: Archive.org, PD licence

They breathed and trembled with your hero.

They expect happy ending.

They deserve it!

Do you believe, you can write a fairy tale now?

It is really nothing extraordinary. In fact everybody already lives his very special fairy tale right now!

Will you try to make your own story for children?

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on November 26, 2019:

Begin; Once upon a time.

Ending; And they lived happily ever after.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on November 19, 2019:

Begin with; Once upon a tyme.

End with; They lived happily ever after.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on November 18, 2019:

We're following the piper, dancing to his tune.

Oh so merrily, underneath the moon.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on November 07, 2019:

When the dew is on the meadow and the moon is in the sky.

You can hear the lonely piper, playing on the pipes nearby.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on July 13, 2014:

@Cesky: I hope you have found something useful:)

Cecilia Karanja from Nairobi on July 13, 2014:

This is an awesome guide. Thank you for sharing

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on April 28, 2014:

@Charito1962: Please do, it's fun!

Charito Maranan-Montecillo from Manila, Philippines on April 28, 2014:

Thanks for these valuable tips! I must say that writing for young minds is a difficult task. But I'll try to write a tale someday.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on April 27, 2014:

@cendana1: Thanks!

Samsuryani from Malaysia on April 26, 2014:

Interesting lens! You make it sooo clear and look easy on how to write a tale. it's good that you highlight this here.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on March 23, 2014:

@Coffee-Break: You are very kind. I hope you can use this inspiration for some other writing activity as well:)

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on March 23, 2014:

@flycatcherrr: Good to know that. Let's hope it will stay on-line;)

Dorian Bodnariuc from Ottawa, Ontario Canada on March 22, 2014:

Not sure if I would ever write a fairy tale, but your lens is definitely a great resource. It's almost magical how you explain the basics and what makes a fairy tale great. Thanks.

flycatcherrr on March 22, 2014:

Your writing is so entertaining, I smiled all the way through reading this - but you offer the wannabe storyteller a great deal of good practical advice in there, under the good humour. Well done - I'm bookmarking this one to come back and read again!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on March 16, 2014:

@traveldestinations: I hope this helps a bit:)

traveldestinations on March 16, 2014:

Thanks for the instructions. I have often thought about doing this.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 13, 2014:

@blestman lm: Indeed!

blestman lm on February 12, 2014:

What a great lens! My wife illustrated a fairy tale for some friends. It just came out. Even though we are adults, she loves having me read them to her out loud. I do it with an English accent to add a touch of culture. Great fun.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 03, 2014:

@VioletteRose LM: Maybe you should start with a climax and build a story from there? I sometimes start with an ending and write it backwards!

VioletteRose LM on January 31, 2014:

This is really great information. I have never even written a short story myself, even though I tried many times. I start really great, move forward then get stuck somewhere and I drop it there unfinished. I usually struggle with finding a climax.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on September 09, 2013:

@darkflowers: Great to hear that:)

Anja Toetenel from The Hague, the Netherlands on September 08, 2013:

I loved your Lens! In my life I've been writing many things, but not stories for children. It sounds like a great and not so hard challenge. Children are great so it's very rewarding to write them a story! Thanks for this great short guide into story telling for our little ones!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on July 24, 2013:

@katespetcorner1: Go for it!

katespetcorner1 on July 21, 2013:

Great lens, I really want to write a story for my niece, with her as the princess, for her birthday :)

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on July 20, 2013:

@kenweiss66: We all have to write stories through all our lives...

kenweiss66 on July 17, 2013:

This is a great lens for my daughter to read, since she has to write stories and fairy tales for school.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on July 04, 2013:

@anonymous: I don't have a system for creating messages. sometimes something happens and I feel the message with such intensity to build a story around it without any planning. On other occasion I simply 'steal' a message from old story, like I presented in my step by step instructions bellow (example: Cricket and Ant by Esop) and make a story with original view, or twisted message, or completely new setting etc.

I hope I answered your question. If not, give me more details...

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on July 04, 2013:

@MissRubyStars: Go for it!

anonymous on July 04, 2013:

I am a writer myself but I have never quite written a fairytale. I am going to now thanks a lot for this! I shall practice it! It seems a lot of fun! But a question, how do you make an over-all message or theme for it?

MissRubyStars on July 02, 2013:

Great info and tips! I'm inspired to write and create a wonderful fairy-tale with my young sons as co-authors!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on July 02, 2013:

@MaryMitchell: Nice to hear that. Good luck!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on July 02, 2013:

@anonymous: Thanks!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on July 02, 2013:

@anonymous: Depends... I think the hardest is to write something short and meaningful. With fairy tales you have a lot of room where certain mistakes in structure are forgivable.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on July 02, 2013:

@Judy Filarecki: It is simple to write a fairy tale. But I never said it is simple to make good fairy tale;)

MaryMitchell on July 02, 2013:

All good advice thanks Tolovaj - I'm just thinking of writing a children's book so this has been a great help!

anonymous on July 02, 2013:

fairy tales are probably the hardest to write! a squirrel party made me smile :)

anonymous on July 02, 2013:

fairy tales are probably the hardest to write!

Judy Filarecki from SW Arizona and Northern New York on July 01, 2013:

You make it sound so simple, and I guess it would be (within reason) now that you have pointed out the things we have always taken for granted in reading a fairy tail.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on June 29, 2013:

@KerryVor: I hope my tips help... If you persist, everything could be done, really!

Kerry Voronoff from Sydney, Australia on June 27, 2013:

Thank-you Tolovaj. I have a kids novel, half-written, that I think using some of your wonderful advice will help me to finish.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on June 27, 2013:

@anonymous: Go for it!

;)

anonymous on June 27, 2013:

now to start writing...

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on June 24, 2013:

@jeskasight: You just have to start. It gets easier from then on!

jeskasight on June 23, 2013:

I have a series name and ideas planned out but need to put them together and get the first book done to get started. Thanks for all of the helpful tips:)

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on June 19, 2013:

@LauraCarExpert: Glad to hear that. Great idea is a great first step. Now you just have to make another step. It is simple. One step at the time.

LauraCarExpert on June 19, 2013:

Yes I already have few ideas to start, and this lens helped me a lot.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on June 14, 2013:

@LaptopLeader: Drop me a note when you finish it:)

LaptopLeader on June 13, 2013:

Amazing lens! You make it sound so easy. :O I'll definitely try it out when I get the time. :)

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on June 11, 2013:

@Dabdab: :)

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on June 11, 2013:

@Dabdab: :)

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on June 11, 2013:

@yarfodg: Hope it helped a bit!

Dabdab on June 11, 2013:

What a wonderful lens - thank you

yarfodg on June 10, 2013:

Great most sensitive lens... Thanks a lot for sharing

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on May 24, 2013:

@LynetteBell: Please do:)

LynetteBell from Christchurch, New Zealand on May 23, 2013:

Thanks for sharing..this is a lens to refer back to when I start my Fairy Tale!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on May 17, 2013:

@gadifi lm: Thank you!

gadifi lm on May 16, 2013:

This is a very interesting lens thanks for sharing this

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on May 15, 2013:

@Arod17: Thank you!

Arod17 on May 15, 2013:

Thanks for the comment

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on May 15, 2013:

@Arod17: Thanks!

Arod17 on May 14, 2013:

Thank you for liking my Lens on online guitar lessons. Great Lens on how to write a fairy tale!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on May 06, 2013:

@anonymous: It's always a pleasure to get some feedback from the fans. Thanks for your support! Keep reading:)

anonymous on May 05, 2013:

Tomo, I absolutely love your writing style! I have almost read everything yours since Zmaji so... I haven't written anything for fun for many many years now, but I am bookmarking this. As soon as I am done with writing a book for my work I'll give it a try. So glad I ran into this. Keep writing!!!!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on May 03, 2013:

@webscribbler: Thanks for your explanation. Although I understand the informational oriented writing doesn't have a lot of space for poetic elements, I believe all writers can add something special to any kind of writing. I was working as a sport journalist for several years and trust me - even a boring soccer game can be presented as exciting piece... I also 100 percent agree with you thoughts on writing for small circle of audience like family etc. The most important thing is to try.

Thanks again for your kind visit!

webscribbler on May 03, 2013:

@TolovajWordsmith: I think you may have misunderstood my post. It was meant to be a compliment to you. Reading it again, I'm not sure it turned out that way.

I write primarily informational pieces. My dandelion lens that you so generously praised is a good example. There's not much room for poetic type writing in the pieces I usually write when conversions and keyword count are more important than writing to draw a picture, create suspense or tell a story. I tend to write tall tree. Getting more visual in my writing is one of the areas I hoped to use Squidoo to work on.

I do plan on visiting more of your lenses as they provide the first useful information for aspiring writers that I have seen in a long time.

I love the idea of encouraging people to try. Even if they write fairy tales that only their children will hear and love, they should give it a go. It could even be a family project that becomes a treasured heirloom.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on May 02, 2013:

@webscribbler: Well, it is my intention to sound easy, because I sincerely believe it can be easy. Of course there is no guarantee you will make a masterpiece every time (or at all), but writing is still more of a skill than anything else. Talent can surely help and people without any kind of storytelling talents probably don't even want to write stories. They probably have talents in other areas of life and that's just fine:)

webscribbler on May 02, 2013:

You make it sound so easy but I know it's not. Good storytellers can set the scene by describing it to you. They don't say things like "tall tree" they say "the tree's limbs stretched up to the sky, higher than the birds fly". That style of writing takes practice but also a talent that not every writer possesses.

Thank you for the inspiration and I'm definitely going to check out your other writings too.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on April 18, 2013:

@kathysart: So go for it!

kathysart on April 18, 2013:

I have been meaning to! This is sooo helpful. I love the illustrations you used for your examples too.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on April 17, 2013:

@StrongMay: Maybe some day you'll be old enough to return to fairy tales;)

StrongMay on April 17, 2013:

I used to write short stories and fairy tales for my younger brother and sister when I was younger (second grade or so). Since then I have graduated to books.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on March 17, 2013:

@Bartukas: Hope they help!

Bartukas on March 17, 2013:

Great tips :P

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on March 14, 2013:

@LouisaDembul: It is not necessary a lot of work although sometimes you need to correct and correct and correct... But you are totally right on being fun:) Go for it!

LouisaDembul on March 13, 2013:

I've never tried to write a fairy tale, sounds like a lot of work. But would be fun to try!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 27, 2013:

@anonymous: Yes, do that. It's fun!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 27, 2013:

@DebW07: Sometimes development of the character is pretty easy. You can always use the characteristics of people you know and combine them with the goals you want to achieve. I hope I helped.:)

anonymous on February 26, 2013:

Perhaps. This would be fun to do with my kids. I guess we'll have to try one.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 26, 2013:

@goldenrulecomics: I hope it helps a bit:)

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 26, 2013:

@Jo-Jackson: Thanks!

goldenrulecomics from New Jersey on February 26, 2013:

Good advice!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 26, 2013:

@Kimberley Vico: Nice to hear that!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 26, 2013:

@DrBillSmithWriter: Family issues are always great inspiration:)

Jo-Jackson on February 26, 2013:

This is something I would like to do. Lovely lens.

Kimberley Vico on February 26, 2013:

I sure will endeavor to! Great Lens... thank you!

William Leverne Smith from Hollister, MO on February 26, 2013:

I'll probably give it try - my family sagas are considered fairy tales, by some! ;-)

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 26, 2013:

@Grandma-Marilyn: Enjoy!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 26, 2013:

@KandDMarketing: Thanks again:)

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 26, 2013:

@KandDMarketing: Thanks!

Grandma-Marilyn on February 26, 2013:

I am going to give it a try. I have a little story in mind that I might work up. Just have to think it through.

KandDMarketing on February 26, 2013:

great lens, fantastic info!

KandDMarketing on February 26, 2013:

great lens, fantastic info!

DebW07 on February 26, 2013:

Although I have a difficult time with character development, I will try to write a fairy tale. Thanks, you have provided excellent tips and advice.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 25, 2013:

@kabbalah lm: Hope I helped:)

kabbalah lm on February 25, 2013:

I still think I would have trouble writing one but this lens has sure helped me. Thank you

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 23, 2013:

@hmrezaul123: Certainly hope they will!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 23, 2013:

@hmrezaul123: Hope they will!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 23, 2013:

@Felicitas: Glad I helped a bit:) Thanks for your kind words!

hmrezaul123 on February 23, 2013:

Great lens. I think people will learn how to write fairy tails.

hmrezaul123 on February 23, 2013:

Great lens. I think people will learn how to write fairy tails.