Fairytales are known by many and passed down from generation to generation. They include magical characters and scenarios that are rooted in folklore. Discover how to write and develop your own world of fantasy and mystique.
How to Write a Fairytale
Follow these steps to create a captivating story full of exciting characters, lands, and adventures:
- Who is your main character?
- Who–or what–is the antagonist of the story?
- Will your character have a love interest?
- Will your character have a side-kick/a best friend
- How will your character defeat the antagonist?
- Will your character get a happy ending?
Let’s dive in!
- Who is your Main Character?
This is a key aspect of your story–the main character is who the fairytale will center around! Whether your character is a princess, a knight, a spinster, or even a dragon, you want to figure out their motives and characteristics. Some aspects to consider:
- What land is your character from? (Did they grow up in a castle or a small shack in an enchanted forest? Do they live in the ocean or a land made of sweets?)
- Does your character have special abilities? (a magic singing voice, a knack for finding anything that has been lost, ice powers)
- What is their fatal flaw? (AKA their weakness. This is an important characteristic for the character since it’s a deciding factor for whether they’ll win or not. You should think about this early on as it will be important when conflict arises in your story)
- What does your character look like? (It’s helpful to envision the look of your character, whether she has flowing red hair, or he has emerald green eyes. The most memorable fairytale characters always have some characteristics that stick out! Think Rapunzel’s 70-foot long hair or Snow White’s white skin and red lips)
- What are their motivations? (What are your character’s hopes and dreams? What do they want out of life? Belle in Beauty in the Beast loved to read; Little Red Riding Hood’s main goal was to visit her grandmother. This is helpful to consider as their antagonist will most likely try to stop them from reaching their goals).
- Who–or what–is your Antagonist?
This is probably the most important part of your story after the main character because it creates the conflict that will arise in the story and provides a challenge for your character. When thinking about what will stand in the way of your character’s goals, consider:
- Are they a who or a what? (The most iconic antagonists are villains–evil queens, sea witches, or trolls. But characters can also deal with opposing forces that aren’t personified, such as the looming threat of darkness or famine on their beloved home, or even dealing with their inner demons. Consider what will get in their way)
- How will the antagonist stop your hero? (Will they destroy their family? Take away their home? Steal their abilities? Figure out how they’ll interfere with your character so you can decide how they’ll be stopped)
- What are the antagonist’s motives? (This is a key element of the story’s opposing force. If the villain isn’t a person/creature then there may not be a motive. If they are, consider if this character is getting revenge on your protagonist for the past, or if they are riddled with jealousy and envy. It could even be an ex-friend or ostracized family member)
- The Love Interest
It’s no secret that nearly every famous fairytale has some sort of love interest. Decide whether your main character will find their own Prince Charming. As you write your story, keep in mind:
- Do I want a love interest? (Just because fairytales traditionally include a love interest doesn’t mean your tale needs one! Especially in modern times, your character could be perfectly happy riding solo!)
- If I want a love interest, how will they tie into the story? (Will they have a larger role, or a smaller one? Is the dynamic an enemy to a lover? A friend to something more? Consider how central a romance is to the story)
- The Best friend/Side-kick
Similar to the love interest, you can choose whether your character will have help on their quest from their best friend or someone new they encounter. Think about:
- Does my character need a sidekick/best friend character? (Think of the Seven Dwarves in Snow White, or Jimminy Cricket in Pinnochio. Maybe this character will assist your protagonist and help them defeat their enemy. They could provide comic relief or be the voice of reason in their head. Or perhaps your character will go on a solo adventure. You decide!
- How will your character defeat the villain/reach their goal?
This is also one of the most important parts of the story–how the main character behaves in the climax of the story. The climax is where most of the action takes place and is the part of the story where the stakes are highest. When thinking about this, consider:
- Will they use intrinsic or extrinsic motivation? (This ties back to your character’s motives and how the antagonist will interfere with their life. Think about what drives your character to fight the antagonist. What is keeping them going even if all odds are against them?
- How big is the battle? (In some cases, the fight between good and evil doesn’t last long. Some fairytales are shorter, while others stretch long. Will your climax be explosive, or will your story not as much emphasis on it?)
- Is there a redemption arc? (Does your fairytale end with the villain surrendering and promising to be good? Or does your character find out the truth about something that changes the way their view the antagonist? This is a good place to throw in a plot twist of some sort)
- Did they all live happily ever after?
You can’t have a fairytale without a happily ever after…or can you?
- Does your character get everything they wanted? (Again, this ties back to your character’s goals and motivations. Did they achieve success at the end of the story? Did they discover something new about themselves or reach their deepest desires? Did they marry the prince, become King or Queen, or save their family?)
- Does your character lose everything–including themselves? (Perhaps your story takes a unique perspective and doesn’t give your main character a happy ending. Maybe the villain succeeds and your protagonist falls. If you’re going for a dark fairytale, consider this twist)
- Is the ending open…for an epilogue or sequel? (You could write an ambiguous ending where it’s not clear what happened to the main character or if they reached their goals or not. You could also set up your fairytale for a sequel. The possibilities are endless!)
If you’re looking to craft the most spell-binding, charming fairytale story, you need to get to know your characters and determine their motivations, influences, and personalities. The major takeaways from this blog post:
- Identify the main characters’ motivations/special abilities
- Identify what drives the antagonist
- Determine how the main character will reach their goals and defeat their villain
- Decide on the happily ever after and what that looks like for your character
Most importantly, have fun with your story! The best part of being a writer is being able to defy the “rules” of conventions in terms of genres and use your imagination. There’s no right or wrong way to write a fairytale so get creative and start writing!