What All Writers Can Learn from Folktales (Writing Exercise)
“The spirit of the woods — the Bwca. I saw him once, when I was a child . . . He can look like whatever he wants to. But his true form is a sharp-eared thing, a hairy thing, a little like an old man and a little like a child, with a snout of a nose and paws for hands. If he likes you, he’ll help you. If he doesn’t like you, he’ll make your life a misery.”
Folktales like this can ignite our imaginations and reveal facets of human nature. Fairy tales, fables, legends, and myths are related categorizations that fall under the folklore umbrella.
Generally speaking, folktales are stories passed down through a culture by word of mouth that aren’t attributed to a single author. They often revolve around superstitions, fantastical situations, and life lessons that feature humans rather than animals as the main characters. Folktales create new ways of interpreting the world around us.
In any story, writers design challenges that force their characters to confront their worst fears and insecurities. In folktales, those fears manifest as creatures that exist in the physical world.