Step 3: Write Your Folktale Previous Next

Here are some challenges that will help you as you think about the story you want to tell. Give them a try! Feel free to use either Alma's tips or Rafe's tips as you write and revise, or use a combination of both.

Alma's Writing and Revising Tips


Photo Credit: Ariya Martin

Create your main character. Describe how your character looks. Is he or she tall or short, animal or human? Does he or she have big feet? A small head? Is she young or old? Draw your character on a piece of paper to help you imagine him or her. Then, once you have a clear picture of your character, think about his or her personality. Is he gentle, brave, dumb, clever, generous, greedy? What are the things your character is known for? How will his or her personality affect your folktale?


Decide what message you want your folktale to give your reader. Folktales often explain a phenomenon in the world, or tell a lesson about human nature. For example, my folktale "Half-Chicken" explains how weather vanes first came to be — but it also tells the reader a message about how helping others will make those others want to help you. As you begin planning your folktale, think about what moral or lesson you want your story to tell. The way your plot develops will depend on this message.


Plan your plot. A good story will need:

  • an interesting, engaging beginning
  • a conflict or moment of tension — a question to be answered, or something that needs to be resolved
  • an ending that is satisfying because the conflict has been resolved or the question has been answered

The message of the story is important — but it's also critical that you make that message part of a good story!


Revision Guidelines. Are you finished with the challenges? Have you done a first draft of your folktale? Then, it's time to begin revising. Writers will tell you that rewriting is one of the most important parts of writing — n fact, some even think it's the most important! Here are some tips I always find helpful when I begin revising my own work.


Review the my tips and check to make sure you've used as many as possible in your writing.


Read your folktale with an objective eye. As a writer, you can get so close to your work that you might miss something that doesn't make sense to others. Ask a friend to read your story for you. Does it make sense? Does it flow well?


Make sure your dialogue works for your characters. Each character needs to have a different style of talking,just the way people do!


Read your folktale out loud to a friend or family member. Remember that folktales are designed to be told. Is your story interesting, short, easy to remember? Is the language you've used easy to remember and conversational? Have you used phrases to help you remember your story?

When your Folktale is complete Publish it online to share with other kids.

Rafe's Writing and Revising Tips

1. Picture the story in your mind. Try to see it as if you are there. The secret of writing is seeing the story — for yourself, your way. What do those trees look like? What is the color of the sky? How big is that lion? Once you can see it in your mind, you can begin to write. You don't have to make it up. Trust your imagination.

Photo Credit: Ariya Martin


Think about the story's problem or conflict. Try to understand its themes as though they are a part of your own life. For example. The Rough-Face Girl as well as my latest book, The Shark God, both explore themes of fairness. The Boy Who Lived with the Seals is about finding your own way, no matter how different it may be and how.

Remember this is just the beginning. You will still want to rewrite the tale. (I rewrite many times. Ten or twenty times with each story is pretty usual).


Revising or Rewriting. Rewriting is a way of going deeper into the story and into your imagining it. By rewriting, the story gains detail. Every time you rewrite, you see more, learn more, about your own story — of how things look and feel and what the characters need to say. You may also see that some action or scene could work better elsewhere and you may move it. You may find that some scene or character is not needed at all — that the story might be clearer or stronger or work better for your reader without it there. So out it goes. Writers don't rewrite because their first effort was wrong. They rewrite so the story can grow slowly into itself. It is a magical and mysterious process.

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