#AuthorToolBoxBlogHop and… Fairy Tales

Last night I thought that I glanced at a writer’s craft book all about how to transform fairy tales into original fiction. I was wrong, but it did give me an idea for this week’s #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop. 🙂 How *do* you fracture a fairy tale anyway?

Take some tips from storytellers, via Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale.


Something that I like to do when working with folktale material is to create a beat sheet from a particular telling (written or oral, as I remember it). Forcing myself to remember the story helps to reduce it to its essential plot points. For storytellers, reduction often happens accidentally by forgetting details between tellings but it can also be a powerful tool for authors, especially combined with…


If reduction involves paring a tale down to the essential points, expansion is when the teller elaborates on that skeleton. Most authors can do this naturally, adding colour, specificity, and detail to the story beats we gained through reduction.

And finally…


Several times I have found myself troubled by several stories that seem to hold so much potential but something critical about their essential beats just does not work. They work as anecdotes, sometimes, but don’t have the depth of a well rounded tale. What to do? Reduction only reveals the underlying problem here, and expansion can only do so much to hide the flaws. What I like to do, and what many storytellers do naturally, is assimilate related or similar tales into one. In this way, the strengths of each story get to shine in a whole new tale!

Have you ever written your own fairy tale, or fairy tale retelling using established folklore as a base? How did you go about it? Or maybe you’ve been wanting to give it a try. Let me know either way in the comments! 🙂

6 responses to “#AuthorToolBoxBlogHop and… Fairy Tales”

  1. I’ve never written a fairytale! But wow, this has given me some ideas to think about for SURE!

  2. Ah this is neat! I’ve never done this myself, but I’ve really enjoyed reading some contemporary retellings of fairy tales, and seeing a guide like this to how the process works is really interesting. I really like the idea of reducing first, to get to the heart of the story. I’m going to have to this a try. Thank you for a great post!

  3. I broke free from them and started where I guessed the magic began. Mexmur, the huntress is on Wattpad and free to read if you’d like a look. Links on my blog. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  4. This is such an interesting way to think about story beats.

  5. A few years ago, I started working on a retelling of “Sleeping Beauty.” I had completely forgotten about it until I saw this post. I’m definitely going to dig it out this afternoon!

  6. I like the explanation of beats in a story. As for fairy tales I wrote a magical sprite chapter book. It is the closest I have come to a fairy tale per se.

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