Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

KS3 English - Fairy tales: What's their story?: Conventions of Fairy Tales

Fairy Tale Conventions

People all around the world continue to invent new fairy tales and retell traditional fairy tales.

Universally, people enjoy the appeal of a story in which truth prevails over lies, generosity comes to be rewarded, obstacles are overcome by hard work and love, good triumphs over evil and mercy and kindness are the greatest powers.


Fairy tales will often include a moral message for the reader.


You can use the two links in the box below to help you to plan your fairy story.

Follow the steps on this page find out about all the elements which make a fairy tale.

Features of a Fairy Tale

(Slide from: Burton, A., 2011. Features of a fairy tale,  Fairy tales. Tanglin Trust School)

Plan Your Plot and Plan Your Story


Use this interactive website to plan the plot of your fairy story. The website will guide you to enter all the details of your tale, helping you to include important elements. You can then print out your plan and use it as you are writing your magical story.



This interactive website will help you plan your story. You can enter details of the characters, the conflict which will occur, how this will be resolved and the setting for your story.

STEP 1: The Moral Lesson

Your first task is to decide what the moral of your fairy tale is going to be.  A moral or a lesson is a key concept in fairy tales so you should work out what moral message your story is going to have.  If you are retelling a fairy tale you may wish to keep the original moral or you could introduce your own.


This video explains how fairy tales can be used to teach morals to children:

STEP 3: The Baddies


Devise a baddy for your story, such as a witch, a goblin, a dragon or an ogre. The bad character acts as an antagonist to the good character and they usually have evil powers which are used to cause the good character pain.

STEP 5: Magic

Design a magical character or object to be included in your story. Many fairy tales have both good and evil magical characters that work to off-set the other's influence. Magic should always play a part in a fairy tale, whether it be pixie dust, a magic wand or any other form of magic you want to include.    


The numbers three and seven are very special and fairy stories wouldn't be the same without them. There are plenty of examples of these numbers being used in fairy tales - 3 little pigs, 7 dwarves, 3 fairy godmothers, 3 wishes, 7 mermaid sisters, 3 bears...  Try to find a way to include three or seven in your fairy tale.

STEP 7: Happily Ever After...

(Source of picture:

Finish off with a happy ending, your character must succeed and your evil character must lose so you can write your "happily ever after" ending.


Nearly all fairy tales start with "Once upon a time" and end with "And they all lived happily ever after".

STEP 2: The Good Character

Here is another slide you will have seen in your lesson, which explains the typical characteristics of the different types of characters in a fairy tale. You can find out more information about different characters on this page.


(Slide from: Burton, A., 2011. Characters, Fairy tales. Tanglin Trust School)


All fairy tales need a good character, they don't need to be perfect but the reader must like them.  You will be able to think of lots of 'good' characters - Cinderella, Snow White, The Ugly Duckling; think of any fairy tale and you should be able to identify a 'good' character.

STEP 4: The Supporting Characters


You will also need a number of supporting fairy tale characters, these may include:

  • a task-setter (this may be a king, for example)
  • other accomplices (these may include talking animals)
  • adversaries (such as an evil step-mother)
  • the character(s) that the hero has to rescue and release from a spell

STEP 6: Obstacles or Tasks


The basic structure of a fairy tale involves a hero or heroine performing one or more tasks and then being rewarded as a result.  Think about the obstacles your good character is going to face.   The obstacle should appear to be insurmountable but with a bit of creativity and some magical assistance they can find a solution.  The obstacle may be overcome by their 'good' qualities, such as courage, cunning or goodness, by timely intervention of an accomplice with magical powers or by using a magical object.


Look at this interactive website for more information on how ordeals feature in fairy tales.