Once Upon a Workshop

March 10, 2023

Local YA author Leslie Vedder loves fairy tales. “I love reading them, I love writing them, I love watching TV shows about them!” she proclaimed to 14 teens last weekend.

Vedder stopped by TWJ to walk the young writers through the process of reimagining fairy tales into something new and fresh. She also took the time to talk about her new novel, The Severed Thread, and sign books for the teen attendees.

“My favorite thing about retellings [is that] it’s like meeting old friends,” she said.

Sometimes the writing process is daunting, especially when attempting to create a totally unique story, which is why Vedder loves the subgenre. She explained that by changing the genre, the perspective, or even by mixing and combining other stories, you can “change the entire story.”

The workshop was organized into three parts: a brief introduction where Vedder talked about her love of both fairy tales and retellings; a group brainstorming session; and individual writing/sharing time.

Together, Vedder and the attendees created a list of some of their favorite tales, including Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, Peter Pan and others. Then, Vedder challenged the attendees to identify key story elements, like Sleeping Beauty’s fairies or Hansel and Gretel’s witch.

One participant pointed out how there are often similarities between the various stories, to which Vedder agreed and added that those similarities are excellent places to start mashing the classics together.

After collaborating on a Beauty and the Beast/Peter Pan mash-up featuring a new character Belinda (who’s in love with Captain Hook and Peter’s the villain!!), Vedder set the teens loose to create their own stories before inviting them to share their creations.

“I always recommend thinking about what I liked most about this,” Vedder said. “It’s just as important to keep the things you love most”