Stories from a Fabulist

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?

Another week, another creative writing prompt/ exercise. We’re going for Fables this week, seeing as we are at the sixth letter of the alphabet already.

The most famous fables are, of course, those we heard as children, believed to have been written more than 2600 years ago by an ugly Greek slave turned story teller, Aesop.

He’s described as a Fabulist, that is, someone who writes fables. And that’s a rather fabulous title, don’t you think? Except, according to my trusty Oxford dictionary,  it can also describe a liar…

When I looked deeper, I discovered there were 750 fables attributed to Aesop, although there has always been some controversy as to their origins, since all that time ago they were not written down but recounted in the oral story telling tradition.

But here today, we are dealing with the written word. A fable is usually a simple story with a moral, often featuring anthropomorphized animals or objects to get the message across. There is frequently a humorous touch which moves the story along, pointing out absurdities to make the moral lesson pill easier to swallow.

The Hare and the Tortoise is probably one of the best known Aesop fables – the moral being slow and steady wins the day. And the Fox and the Grapes gives rise to the modern expression ‘sour grapes’.

Your task today is to write your own fable – it can be for adults or children, but follow the style of an Aesop fable. Challenge yourself to find another way to tell the story of the Wolf in Sheep’s clothing, or  the Lion and the Mouse, or the Fox and the Crow. Do you rely on traditional concepts about the cunning of foxes or the slow moving ways of tortoises? This is where you can get creative.

Traditional fables are usually very short with just two animal characters and a conflict and resolution which show flawed behaviour your reader can relate to. And if this idea leads to you writing a longer story using humans rather than animals, that is fabulous!

Call back next week for another creative writing prompt/exercise. There’s a new one every Wednesday at 5pm, Dublin time. More about what this is all about here.