How to Tell a Bedtime Story
A Bedtime Story, in 5 Steps
A story is a mysterious creation, but it’s also a recipe: You need a hero, a world for him or her to live in (that’s the setting and the time), something to imperil that world (the plot twist), and a happy ending. Of course, it’s hard to come up with all of that when you can barely keep your eyes open. So we tapped a few children’s-book authors—Christopher Healy, the author of The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom ($17, amazon.com); Laurel Snyder, the author of Bigger Than a Breadbox ($7, amazon.com); and Barry Wolverton, the author of Neversink ($17, amazon.com)—to do most of the work for you. Pick a story element from each of the following sections and you have the building blocks for a rip-roaring tale.
1. Choose the hero.
Anything from the ordinary to the fantastic is fair game.
2. Choose a setting.
A Few More Ideas
• Your child’s school
• New York City on a snowy night
• The site of your child’s favorite vacation
• The caverns of Neptune
• A secret tree house in your own backyard
• A ship on a magical ocean that’s full of serpents and helpful mermaids
• Grandma’s attic
3. Choose a time.
If you're stuck think about your child's favorite story and pick a similar time period.
4. Choose a major plot twist.
• A hippopotamus has taken over the hero’s above-ground pool.
• A bird poops the seed of an Evil Tree in the heroine’s backyard.
• All the world’s pies have been stolen. Even potpies!
• The hero wakes up in a cave, surrounded by treasure and sleeping dragons.
• The crew of space rangers won’t be able to make it home unless the heroine can build a rocket engine out of dinner scraps.
• The hero is locked in the zoo overnight.
• The super-villain reveals himself to be…Mr. Wiggles, your pet dog!
• That mysterious new hat starts eating people’s hair.
5. Choose a happy ending.
• The hero hits a game-winning homer that also happens to crash through the windshield of the world’s most evil man, killing him instantly.
• The heroine founds Upsidedownlandia, where every dark place has a night-light and books are the most popular form of entertainment.
• The hero rescues the puppy and gets to keep it.
• Mom and Dad promise to never again use the time machine without child supervision.
• The heroine’s exploits are made into the world’s best-selling video game.
• The feared, gargantuan beast is banished to its lair under Antarctica for the next 200 years.
• The hero eats the biggest ice cream cone ever.
• The heroine wakes up in bed to discover that it was all a dream.… Or was it?!