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10 November 2018

Posted by Sophie Jones

Fairytale Writing

15-18 Age Group - 11 Attending

Our sessions this term will be based around our upcoming trip to see Shrek The Musical in December when it comes to the Mayflower Theatre, so we began by looking at the foundational components of the classic fairytale.

Exercise 1- Illustrations

Susmita handed out some illustrations from her father’s childhood book of fairytales, and asked the Young Writers to try to identify the stories and the characters in each illustration. These included Cinderella and the Princess and the Pea among some lesser known tales.

Exercise 2- Propp’s characters 

Susmita wrote up a list of the eight types of characters that Vladimir Propp theorised appeared in every fairytale. As a group, the Young Writers tried to match each of Propp’s eight characters to the characters in Shrek, but it proved difficult to separate the characters from the original film from its sequel. We ended up with a full list of characters, some from Shrek and some from Shrek 2. 

Exercise 3 - Heroes and Villains

The Young Writers split into two groups. All the writers in one group developed their own original heroes, listing name, age, personality, appearance, and what makes them a hero. The writers in the other group did the same, but for villains.

Exercise 4 - Heroes vs Villains

Each person from the hero group paired up with a person from the villain group. They discussed their new hero/villain duo, then individually wrote a scene in which the two interacted. The resulting meetings included a short detective in a blue top hat with a prejudice against goblins, trying to solve the case of the candy cartel in fairytale city and bumping into a goblin in a bakery; an old, anti-millennial robot called Frank trying to reinstate the glory of the 80s by holding Justin Bieber hostage, against a young boy called Barnaby Egg armed with stilts, a megaphone, and bad puns; and a Christmas elf massacring monster fought off by a young girl’s imaginary half-fairy, half-elf friend.

Exercise 5 - Six Steps

We finished with an exercise following ‘six steps to write a fairytale’, beginning with finding the moral, then the ‘humble hero’, conflict creating villain, magical element, cool setting, and the happy ending. These will be further developed in our session after next week’s Hands on Humanity day, but we managed to hear a few of the morals the Young Writers came up with, including: don’t procrastinate, it’s okay to grow up, don’t judge a book by its cover, and climate change is real. 

Next week, our session will be held at the University of Southampton’s Avenue Campus 11-2 as part of the Hands of Humanities day.


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