A found story is a creative writing prompt inspired by traditional tales found in literature, such as the classical fairytale or Italian opera. The prompt comes with a basic structure but allows flexibility in how the story is interpreted. When paired with a brainstorming tool like FreeCell, the result is magical – you’ll have story ideas flowing in within minutes.
The best thing about found stories is that they can be used in a variety of ways. They can be used to prompt creativity, brainstorm story ideas, or flesh out a plot. The prompt also works well as a standalone exercise, providing flexibility for writers who want to practice their craft.
How Do I Start?
The best way to get started with a found story is to try a few out and see how they work. Some of the most popular ones include:
- Snow White – The Grimm’s fairytale was one of the first stories to be set in modern times and it still regularly appears in modern retellings, from the 2007 Broadway musical to the 2011 Lifetime film. The basic plot: a beautiful young woman works her way through a series of unfortunate events to find true love.
- Cinderella – It was the classic Grimm’s fairytale, redone for the modern age. A handsome prince falls in love with a beautiful woman on her way to the ball, only to have her clothes transformed into animal pelts by an evil stepsister as punishment for their engagement. They must work together to save her brother from the same fate, which leads them to become a family.
- Sleeping Beauty – In this version, the prince sleeps with the princess who awakens every night to kill her as she believes that beauty causes misfortune. She tries to poison herself nightly so that she can be with the prince, but his slumber interrupts her plans. A kindly fairy puts an end to her curse and she and the prince live happily ever after.
- The Frog Prince – A frog wins the heart of the beautiful princess by charming her with his singing and proves himself to be a true prince by aiding her in getting her brothers to stop fighting and kill each other first. He turns into a handsome prince and they live happily ever after.
The Pros And Cons Of
There are a few things to consider before using one of these prompts. First, make sure that you are using a version of the story approved for public consumption. Some publishers and production companies won’t allow for their materials to be used for advertising or promotional purposes, so you don’t want to end up in hot water over a story that contains content that could be considered objectionable. Second, make sure that you are using your own words to tell the story. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: would a five-year-old like this story? If not, it probably isn’t suitable for younger audiences. Finally, be mindful of how others might interpret your story. The person reading it may not ascribe the same meaning to events that you do.
When Should I Use It?
It’s best to use a found story as soon as possible after you’ve found it, particularly if it’s one of the more popular ones. The reason being that the more time that passes, the more likely it is that someone else will have used the same plot. Preventing plagiarism is one of the main reasons why these prompts are preferred over others because you can be fairly certain that no one will steal them. Also, the earlier you start using one of these stories, the better, because it will give you more time to flesh it out before a submission deadline rolls around.
These stories are not ones to rush into writing. Some of the best writers in history, such as Richard Rogers, have said that they never began a novel until they had already written several short stories. They believed that the short story was the perfect format to experiment with, because it was easy to experiment with and allowed for significant rewriting and improvement. If you’ve got a draft or two already, that’s perfect. Otherwise, take your time and polish it into a piece of art.