In case you missed it, last week Bri outlined the “blueprint” of a fairy tale, two of the most important ingredients being, of course, the hero and the villain. But there’s another more subtle character in many fairy tales that plays an equally important part:

The Forest

hansel-and-gretel-nielsenForests and fairy tales go together like tea and scones. Folk have been mythologising the Forest since trees came into fashion! Ancient, mossy trunks, bluebell patches and burbling brooks, tangled briar patches and shadowy caves… the perfect backdrop for a tale of magic and adventure. But the Forest acts as more than just a backdrop to the tale’s action; it’s often what sets story in motion. The Forest is home to fairies as well as monsters. Home to the magic, the danger and the adventure that our hero must face. It is in the red riding hoodForest that Little Red Riding Hood meets the Big Bad Wolf, where Hansel and Gretel are lured into a trap by a witch’s gingerbread cottage, where Belle is pursued by hungry wolves only to be rescued by the Beast.

Forests have been inspiring storytellers through the ages, from the ancient Greek to Tolkien. The Brothers Grimm were particularly inspired by the dark, spooky Forests of their native Germany. The opposite of the town, the Forest was the place where the hero could escape ordinary life and enter a world of otherworldly beauty. Of course one was bound to meet with dangers: conniving hungry wolves, evil sorcery, you name it!

Just imagine some of your favourite fairy tales without the Forest? What if Red Riding Hood visited her grandmother in a beach condo? Or Hansel and Gretel got lost in a shopping mall? What if the witch hid Rapunzel in the top story of a metropolitan high rise?


These make for interesting retellings, but certainly no other setting carries with it the deep magic and ancient mystery of the Forest. Anyone may lurk just behind the next tree; anything may happen if you walk just that little bit further in…  The Forest is a world of endless possibilities.

Need inspiration for your own Fairytale? Go for a walk in the Woods!

Brimming with ever-changing sights, sounds, smells and textures, the Forest is a storyteller’s treasure chest! If you want to write your own fairytales, I recommend a regular diet of forests. Get to know the trees, observe life under the leaves or up in the branches. Forage for forest treasures, and then write a short fairytale based on those object… what magic might an acorn possess? Who might live in that nook between that tree’s roots? You get the idea! Have fun, and don’t forget… the best ingredients for a fairytale adventure are magic + danger. No better place to find them both than in the Forest!

*REMINDER: Still SEVEN days left to take part in our Fairytale Retelling Competition! Click HERE for details.


Maybe you could get some inspiration from the Forest… or you could always tell the metropolitan version of Rapunzel! 😉

What’s your favourite foresty fairytale?