Fairy Tales: Fracture them to come up with something new

A favorite fractured fairy tale in the Edwards' household.
A favorite fractured fairy tale in the Edwards’ household.

I have yet to successfully write and sell a fractured fairy tale but Tara Lazar has inspired me to revisit a Billy Goats Gruff retelling.  Lazar is the author of Little Red Gliding Hood due out in October.  In this spin off of the well known fairy tale, Red is an ice skater.  There are many ways to fracture a fairy tale and Lazar’s post on this topic got me thinking.

Play with the title.  That’s what Lazar did in Little Red Gliding Hood.  She replaced Riding with the rhyming word Gliding.  Try this with something like the Three Bears.  You can have Three Pears (believe it or not my son LOVED this story as a preschooler), Three Squares, Three Mares, Three Hares, or even Three Eclairs.  I’m not saying any of these are brilliant but you get the idea.  Change one element and you change the whole story.

Play with the characters.  One of my son’s favorite picture books was Gator Gumbo by Candace Fleming.  This is a Little Red Hen retelling in which Fleming replaces the hen with an aged gator.  What if Goldilocks was a grifter out to take advantage of the bears?

Play with settings.  I’ve often wondered what Candace Fleming decided to do first — swap the hen for a gator or move the story to the swamp.  It would change the story just as much to set it on the tundra, in the rainforest, or in the outback.

Play with the POV.  That’s what Jon Sciezka does in The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.  Instead of telling the story from the pigs’ POV, he gives voice to the wolf.  What would happen if you retold The Gingerbread Man from the POV of the gingerbread man?  Granted, that could easily get too strange for a picture book, but with the right twist it could be warped fun.

Play with props.  Many of the characters in fairy tales have important props.  Swap out Jack’s beanstalk for a sunflower.  What if the witch tried to feed Snow White a cookie but couldn’t guarantee that it was peanut free?  Lazar puts Red Riding Hood on skates.

Take a familiar fairy tale or folk tale out and play with it.  You may end up with a twist that takes readers on a whole new literary journey.


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