There once was a dress. One dress.
When it was new, it was gold and sparkly and shimmery like the glow of certain stars on the darkest night.
It was made by a graceful old woman, whose fingers were as lissome as a ruby-throated hummingbird, and though she sewed quickly, she sewed with care, threading the dress with a hundred silken stitches along every inch of its beautiful seams and hem.
No one knew she had also tucked a small rosy part of her heart into the dress, because every seamstress keeps at least one secret, and that was hers.”
So begins the story of The Golden Dress: A Fairy Tale. And, as with most stories, there are questions that arise, right from the start. You can use these questions, as well as other questions you eventually have while reading the story, to inspire your own magical stories or poems.
Example: 5 Fun Writing Prompts Inspired by The Golden Dress
1. When the golden dress was new, it glowed like certain stars on the darkest night. Why do you suppose it did that? Write a story or poem exploring why the dress glowed like stars.
2. The old woman has a young daughter. Is there a special reason she was granted this gift? Write a story or poem about the old woman’s life leading up to the time when she was granted the gift of a daughter.
3. This seamstress is quite accomplished! How did she come to be a seamstress? Where did she gain such amazing skills? And, why, even though she is now old, does the woman still sew with such flexible, deft fingers? (The word lissome means flexible, agile, deft.) Write a story or poem that explores the woman’s seamstress vocation and the sense that she maintains some kind of special youth.
4. The old woman is immediately associated with a lovely bird: the ruby-throated hummingbird. Later in the story, you will notice more bird imagery at important turning points. Write a story or poem exploring why the old woman or the dress is associated with birds.
5. The old woman secretly tucked a small rosy part of her heart into the dress. Why do you think she did that? Write a story or poem exploring her secret decision to do this.
Using the Method With Other Stories
To use this method with other stories, choose tales that have a little mystery in them and strong images. Classic fairy tales are a compact, rich source. Then do this:
1. Go through the tale and choose some of the facts and images that you may have initially taken at face value. For instance, in The Golden Dress, it’s stated that the dress glowed like certain stars, and we might be inclined to read quickly past that at first.
2. Apply a little “how, why, where” and create some questions from your chosen facts and images. For instance, in The Golden Dress, we have our “glowed like certain stars” fact. All we have to do now is ask why. For example: “Why do you suppose it did that?”
3. Once we ask why or how or where, that’s an invitation to answer with a story or poem exploration, such as in our current example: “Write a story or poem exploring why the dress glowed like stars.”
You can use this method with kids, or you can try it yourself. If you’re feeling inspired, we’d love to hear the poem or the beginning of a story you craft to any of the five Golden Dress questions included here!
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Callie Feyen says
The sentence, “[g]lowed like certain stars” stopped me in my reading tracks when I first read about this story. I wanted to know about that word, “certain.” Which certain stars? I want to know about these certain stars, and maybe I’ll glow, too. (Or maybe I need to buy a golden dress? I have sparkly gold shoes, because of course I do.) 🙂
Anyway, I loved reading this post because I understand one way I interact with stories.
I ordered the book this morning. Can’t wait to read it!
L.L. Barkat says
I love that you were almost immediately stopped in your reading tracks by a set of wonderings. Stories that inspire questions inspire conversation and further writing. I do prefer them to all-tied-up-with-a-bow, no-mysteries stories. 🙂
Yes, of course you have sparkly gold shoes! I would expect nothing less from Callie Feyen. 🙂
I hope you enjoy the book. Gail’s illustrations are amazing.