How to write a Fairy Tale
In fairy tales, there are no defined rules. So, you have the freedom to decide how you want to construct and use your fairy tale.
What characters should appear in fairy tales?
There are many generally accepted characters in fairy tales. Virtually any magical character is acceptable and expected in a fairy tale: dwarves, dragons, elves, witches, wizards, fairy godmothers, sprites, and so on. Fairies can appear in fairy tales, but certainly do not have to. Choose characters with traits that serve your story-telling purposes.
Where should fairy tales take place?
Any setting is appropriate for a fairy tale. They can take place in other, magical worlds. Often, though, fairy tales take place in our world, with magical characters appearing to and interacting with humans. For instance, in The Elves and the Shoemaker, two elves come to the shoemaker’s shop. They construct shoes for him, helping him to get out of debt and become prosperous. In return, he and his wife make new clothes for them, setting them free from their servitude.
Does a fairy tale have to have a happy ending?
There are conflicting opinions about this. Many of the people who have written about the fairy tale genre say that a proper fairy tale must have a happy ending. However, the original authors of fairy tales show us otherwise. In Disney’s movie The Little Mermaid, the ending is happy. Ariel defeats the witch and marries her prince. In the earlier tale written down by Hans Christian Anderson, however, the Little Mermaid does not. She is too late. The prince marries someone else and she experiences the despair of lost love. In addition, she cannot go back to her old life. All is lost, so she throws herself into the ocean, is turned into sea foam and must spend eternity on the waves. It is a tragic end. So, the answer to this question is, again, there are no rules. You can decide whether your story should have a happy ending or not.
How long should a fairy tale be?
Fairy tale length varies. They can be as short as a few pages or as long as several chapters. Choose a length that fully explores your subject matter.
Who should a fairy tale be written for?
Fairy tales are appropriate for any age. Adapt your fairy tale to your audience. The basic story can remain the same, no matter who you tell the story to, but you can change the details to suit that audience. When telling the story of Cinderella to a 3 year old child, you might make her stepmother and stepsisters more comic than evil. When telling the story to an adult, you can make them more sinister and abusive.
When to use a Fairy Tale
Fairy tales can be used for many reasons. They are works of fiction, so any situation where fiction is appropriate might be appropriate for a fairy tale. If your story is best told by using elements that do not fit within the rules of reality, a fairy tale may be appropriate.
A fairy tale can be used to explore all manner of ideas and questions: good versus evil, moral versus immoral, luck versus ill-luck, weak versus strong, and anything else that might be on your mind. Because the setting of a fairy tale is magical and the characters are not bound by reality, your story can be constructed around the point you want to make. For instance, in Pinocchio, Jiminy cricket serves as Pinocchio’s conscience. Through Jiminy’s character, we are told clearly how the author expects young children to act. Because Pinocchio regularly ignores Jiminy’s advice, he pays the consequences and learns hard lessons.
Use a fairy tale to explore and work out conflicts. There is nothing more satisfying than a story in which the good come out on top and the evil get their just rewards. In a fairy tale this can happen and it is appropriate. Think of the story of Snow White, in which the evil Queen is destroyed and Snow White lives “happily ever after” with her Prince and the Dwarves. In a fairy tale, you can put your main character in difficult situations, knowing that somehow he or she can be saved.
You can also simply use a fairy tale to tell a good story. If you are in the mood for a story which takes you to another place and allows you to escape into your imagination, fairy tales are a good place to go.