Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hans Christian Andersen Writing Prompts

In honor of Hans Christian Andersen's birthday, I would like to offer up a special fairy tale prompt.  Did you know that Hans Christian Andersen wrote 175 fairy tales in his lifetime?  Among them are The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, and The Emperor's New Clothes.  The Writer's Almanac has a nice write-up about him today.

Well, if Hans Christian Andersen can write 175 fairy tales, we can at least attempt to write one.  Today's challenge is to write a fairy tale using something magical and follow the guidelines below:

1.  The protagonist is stuck in a situation he or she hates (school, job, family, etc.).  You pick the situation and give the protagonist character (sex, age, personality, motive, etc.)

2.  The magical element is some kind of a talking plant or flower or tree.

3.  Somehow, love must be involved.

4.  Develop a conflict around the situation the protagonist hates and the person he or she falls in love with.

5.  Use the following items in your story:  a coffee cup, a pebble, a stream, stars, and music.

Alternative Creative Writing Prompts:

Here are some lines from Hans' stories, and you can start free-writing from any one of them:

1.  For many heavy days and dark nights the heart must suffer to. . .
2.  The bird flutters round us. . .
3.  In the country, close by a high road, stood a. . .
4.  It was made of clay in the shape of a. . .

You can read fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen for free here:



  1. Stuck in a dark and dismal city the great scribe Loraver, in dark and darkened gloom, lay down his great head and wept. On his window sill, in fading light and putrid air, did live one tiny golden flower encased in clay and hardening soil. One silent tear fell from the great mans eye that dropped by chance upon one golden petal. There rose a voice, like none other the old man had heard...a voice like the rushing water of a woodland stream as it turns the pebbles in its bed, a voice like the music of the stars. "Pluck me" it said. "I cannot, for I love you far to much to destroy your life." "Pluck me" it sang, "for I have mysteries to show you. I can give you the gift you yearn for. Pluck me." And still he sat, head in hand, for he could not reach out and end the golden life. And then, wonder of wonders, the tiny magic voice grew loud and louder still until the very air vibrated. "Truly you have chosen the greatest gift of all which is love." A beam of light struck through the city dirty window caressing the golden petals, reflecting until everywhere within sight was golden and beautiful and so it remains to this very day.

  2. You did a fantastic job with this, Delores. I love your storyteller voice, and I love the theme of true love and light. Beautiful writing with the line "rushing water of a woodland stream as it turns the pebbles in its bed, a voice like the music of the stars." Poetic! Thanks for taking the challenge.

    1. Sorry I didn't use the coffee cup.


I only ask that all comments be polite and constructive.