How To Start a Quest

Hello all!

I’ve been filming some short pieces about myths, legends and fairy tales and how to write them. It was so much fun, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts here.

This week, I’m looking at how to set your story in motion. As my example, I’ve taken a classic quest story – The Leaves that Hung but Never Grew from my book of Welsh Fairy Tales.

You might not know the story, but you’ll recognise some of the patterns in it. It begins like this.


Quests always begin in the same way:

A Place

A Person

A Problem


You can see that you can simply take out the words in red and insert your own words.

Once upon a time, in a magnificent palace, there lived a King called Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh was sad because his best friend had died. And so one day he went out to find a way to defeat death. (That’s the legend of Gilgamesh, by the way, the oldest written story in the world.)

Or how about:

Once upon a time, in a miserable kitchen, there lived a girl called Cinderella. Cinderella was sad because her step-mother and step-sisters were horrible to her and so one day she went out to become a pirate. (Cinderella isn’t really a quest story but there’s no reason it can’t be. Cinders doesn’t have to sit about waiting to be rescued.)

That’s the start of your quest. Easy, isn’t it? See how many variations you can come up with and next time we’ll find out what happens to Seren in The Leaves the Hung but Never Grew and how that can help us plan the middle of our stories.

Please take a look at my books, and check out my schools page for details of workshops and fun things to do.