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There are a lot of important ideas that go into creating a good folktale! Our folktale experts have come up with tips to help you get off to a good start. Read through them, and start making notes for your own folktale.

  1. We learn to write by reading. If you want to write a good folktale, read. Read as many folktales as you can get your hands on, and you'll begin to capture the style and feeling that goes into creating one. The more you read, the more your mind will learn to picture things for itself, in your own special way.

  2. Pay attention to the world around you. Once you have an idea for a story, try to imagine the world where it takes place. Is it a real world or an imaginary one? What is the place like? Describe your setting with color, smells, and noises. Describe how something tastes, or how it feels to touch. Research your setting. Read about the trees that grow in that location, the animals that live in that climate, the typical plants and flowers. Be accurate in your descriptions.

  3. Plan the timing of events in your story. You must sustain the interest of your reader. Keep adding details to your story. Don't rush the end.

  4. Remember that folktales are stories that are meant to be told. Try writing your folktale as if you were telling it to a friend. Many folktales use phrases that are easy to remember, like "once upon a time" or "in a land far, far away." You might also come up with repeated verses or phrases like the ones in "Half-Chicken":
  5. "Good-bye, good-bye!
    I'm off to Mexico City
    to see the court of the viceroy!"

    Using rhymes and classic storytelling expressions will make it easier for you to remember the details of your story as you're telling it.

  6. Invite the reader to hear your character think and feel, to enter his or her mind, to know the character intimately. Don't tell the reader what your characters are saying ? let them speak for themselves.
  7. Instead of:
    John told his mother he wanted to go out. He tried to convince her to let him go see his uncle Joe.
    "Mom, it'd be wonderful to see Uncle Joe," John said. "You always say you want me to learn new things. I learn lots from Uncle Joe."
  8. Don't stare at the blank page or screen. If ideas don't seem to come, begin writing anyway. One word will invite others. Keep on writing. Maybe you will discard some sentences later on, but you will be on your way.

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