On Friday Dec. 18th, our kids’ writing workshop made up new stories involving one or more fairytale characters. Kids got to draw two names from a basket–these were names of characters from some European or American fairytale, such as Brothers Grimm fairytales or Hans Christian Andersen fairytales, and usually not from the same fairytale. (I do apologize for it being rather culturally homogeneous.) Kids had to figure out how to put both characters into a story, and were invited to add other characters as needed.
Then kids drew another slip, and this contained one problem. Kids had to work that problem into their story somehow, to give them a starting point for creating conflict which is the heart of all plot development. Basically, they were given the three most basic elements of a story: two characters and a problem.
These are some of the problems they had to work with:
- One of your characters is applying for a job, and the other character is the employer interviewing them.
- One of your characters wants to avenge a dead parent or sibling.
- One of your characters is seriously ill.
- One of your characters is trying to make amends for doing something wrong.
- One of your characters is homeless because his/her house was blown down.
- One of your characters is on the run, fleeing from an evil queen.
- One of your characters has to find a special plant to cure a sick relative.
- One of your characters is being bullied at school.
- One of your characters was turned into an animal.
- One of your characters finds a child lost in the woods.
- One of your characters is the victim of a theft.
- One of your characters is under an evil spell.
- One of your characters is allergic to the other character, but needs him/her for something.
- One of your characters has been accused of murder and has to clear his/her name.
- One of your characters is temporarily blind.
- One of your characters is hopelessly clumsy.
I provided copies of our fairytale books for the kids who weren’t familiar with their character’s story. And I gave them composition notebooks to do their brainstorming and writing in.
There were a lot of laughs as kids thought of ways to get their characters interacting. Here is a great story created by Ashley in the form of a letter from Prince Jermy to Goldilocks:
Here is the story of a queen (formerly a miller’s daughter) who has to make amends with Goldilocks’s grandma:
This is just the beginning of a longer planned story about Rapunzel and Snow White who have to work together to save her sick grandmother:
And here is a story that reimagines the beginning of the Big Bad Wolf, being cared for by Rapunzel when he was just a wee pup:
I love all their stories! I gave the kids optional “homework” to read an article about writing modern twists on fantasy tales and brainstorm a modern twist of a fairytale.
If you’d like to check out some books that either combine fairytales or give a twist to a well-known fairytale, I highly recommend these authors: Gail Carson Levine, Grace Lin and E.D. Baker. I put a few of their books on display at our workshop:
But despite not having a copy on hand, no such list would be complete without our awesome Young Reader’s League 2016 author Liesl Shurtliff, author of Rump!
Don’t forget, next month we’re having a special guest instructor, Emily Arrow. You can find her music at emilyarrow.com. She will bring her warmth, creativity and skills as an award-winning songwriter to inspire you all to write your own stuff and “make your mark”! She will do both the 8-12 year old workshop and the 5-8 year old “Creative Writing For Beginning Readers” workshop. More information in this flyer:
Other writing news here at Pasadena Public Library: our recent What’s In a Name? writing contest winners have been notified. I wasn’t involved in judging but I heard we got around 170 entries, which is fantastic! Thank you to all who participated! We love doing these writing contests and I promise to continue to try to inspire entrants with related prompts at our workshops.