I often had my students create stories based on three random objects. In this case, I asked my class to give me:

  • a type of animal (They came up with a bunch. I thought an alligator would be interesting, so I went with that.)
  • a setting (any interesting place where something could happen, like a rickety bridge), and . . .
  • a random object (That’s where the gun came from.)

This technique is great for coming up with simple, fun story ideas. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to know where to start. That’s when I decided to go with another technique that I often used with my students, which is to rewrite a fairy tale/fable. It works well because it gives you a starting point, but allows you to play around and have some fun with it.

In this case it was pretty easy to make the alligator the bad guy, taking the place of the big, bad wolf. Since it’s a fable, the bridge made me think of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff”, so I knew that had to be where they’d meet the gator, who wouldn’t let them cross to the other side. That just left the gun, which I knew I’d want to use to rescue them somehow. I try to avoid violence as much as possible in kids’ stories, so having it shoot through a wasp’s nest got them rescued without any unnecessary bloodshed*.


*Note 1: No wasps were harmed in the making of this story.

Note 2: If you haven’t read “The Three Little Pigs”, you totally should.

Note 3: I love to hear from my readers! Where do you get your writing ideas? Share your thoughts (under “Get in Touch”, just to the right of this post).


Robin Pawlak
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