Fairy Tales for Women: A Writing Exercise

Forget Prince Charming, forget Walt Disney. As anyone who has read the original Grimms’ tales knows, traditional fairy tales are not cute kids’ stories at all but very adult and often dark tales that don’t always have happy endings. They are tales of power that show us strong female characters deemed unacceptable in mainstream culture: the witch, the hag, and the wisewoman. And it is to these forbidden women that the young maiden goes to learn the secret that will save her. These powerful archetypes can help fuel our writing and inspire our creative process.

Brainstorm as many fairy tales as you can think of, also from non-European cultures: African, Asian, etc. If you can’t think of any or if you want inspiration, peruse the links at the bottom of the page. After you have come up with a list, choose the tale that pulls you in the strongest.

Writing exercise: Rewrite this fairy tale as though it were happening to you, as though it was your personal story, your heroic journey as you face all the challenges in your life right now. Make this your personal tale of power.

Resources: The following links will lead you to an abundance of tales.