Our first Young Writers workshop of 2024 found us in familiar territory, exploring the history of fairy tales. We began by introducing Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, and then started playing with these well-known stories to encourage reimagination.

Before bending the rules, you need to know what they are in the first place, so we explained the conventions of the fairy tale genre and the impact of these elements on storytelling in general. The way that fairy tales are presented today continues to remind us of their spoken origin, and the ‘fairy tale ending’ is synonymous with a happy outcome.

To start the writing, we invited the participants to pick a fairy tale and convey it in just six words.

Then we moved into the main element of the workshop – reimagining fairy tales in different historical settings. Our writers could situate a fairy tale in a historical context ranging from the Great Plague to World War II, whilst adding an element of their own cultural identity to it.

We offered a list of magical objects to embed into the stories, ranging from a mirror, broom, needle and thread, a comb, a sword or knife, a chest, a mask, or a rose, a shawl and a stone.

The significance of these within the context of the story was up to the writers, before we invited them to focus more on the relationship between their hero and the villain of their story. Perhaps they knew one another – the writers could decide how and what the impact of that might be.

We invited the writers to think about the moral of their stories, and then asked them to write a blurb which they could keep to themselves or share with the group.

The writers said they found the workshop useful, and we are already looking forward to our next Zoom session.

The next Young Writers workshop will take place on Zoom on Saturday 10th February between 10:00 am and 12:00pm. Booking information can be found here.