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Once Upon a Rodeo Time


From the remote reaches of northern Idaho, the Carrot Ranch Weekly Challenges launched in March of 2014. From around the world, Norah Colvin accepted the first challenge from Australia. She’s held a special place at the Ranch ever since.

Norah cultivates the kind of growth mindset that marks a life-long learner. But she’s also a teacher. Norah frames her entries in posts that focus on education, giving her readers new points of learning or discussion. Last year she launched readilearn (a sponsor of the 2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo, so be sure to check out the site).

You can always expect to learn something new from Norah, and her Rodeo Contests is no exception.


Rodeo #4 Fractured Fairy Tales
By Norah Colvin

Do you love fairy tales? Chances are, unless you are a parent or grandparent of young children or an early childhood educator as I am, you may not have encountered a fairy tale for a while. Well, I am about to change that by asking you to fracture a fairy tale for the fourth Carrot Ranch rodeo contest.

What is a fractured fairy tale you ask? It’s a story that takes a traditional fairy tale and adds a new twist. Sometimes the twists are dark and sometimes humorous. Sometimes they are dark and humorous. They may even be sinister or subversive but rarely patronising or preachy.

A fractured fairy tale usually takes a character, setting or situation from a well-known fairy tale and presents it from a different angle or point of view. Sometimes characters from different fairy tales appear together. A fractured fairy tale is never simply a retelling of the original story with characters painted black and white. In a fractured tale, the lines and colours blur. But the characters or situations are recognisable.

Roald Dahl sums it up well in the introduction to Cinderella in his book of Revolting Rhymes.
I guess you think you know this story.
You don’t. The real one’s much more gory.
The phoney one, the one you know,
Was cooked up years and years ago,
And made to sound all soft and sappy
Just to keep the children happy.

In preparation for the contest, you may like to re-familiarise yourself with some traditional fairy tales, and read some fractured ones; for example:

Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs as told to Jon Scieszka by A. Wolf
The Wolf the Duck and the Mouse by Mac Barnett
The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
The Little Bad Wolf by Sam Bowring

Tara Lazar, author of Little Red Gliding Hood, has some helpful suggestions in this PDF.

Details about the prompt will be revealed on October 24, and you will have one week in which to respond. Judging your stories with me will be award-winning novelist and short story writer Anne Goodwin and children’s picture book author and illustrator Robbie Cheadle. Both Anne and Robbie were co-judges with me last year, and I appreciate the generosity of their support again this year.

Anne has already published two novels Sugar and Snails and Underneath, both of which I recommend as excellent reads. She has a book of short stories coming out soon and a third novel in the pipeline which I am eagerly waiting to read.

Robbie has published five books so far in her Sir Chocolate series of picture books. Her books are unique with their wonderful fondant illustrations. She also recently co-wrote While the Bombs Fell with her mother Elsie Hancy Eaton, a memoir of her mother’s wartime experiences.

The three of us are looking forward to reading your fractured fairy tales next month.

Here’s one from me to get the ideas rolling.

No Butts About It

Dear Editor,

I hereby repudiate rumours the Billy Goats are spreading. They accuse me of bullying, but they show no respect for me and my property.

All summer while I slaved to secure winter supplies, they gambolled frivolously. When their grass was gone, they proceeded to help themselves to mine.

I’m usually a neighbourly fellow, but when they come every day, trip-trapping across my bridge, scaring away my fish and eating my crops, it’s too much.

When asked politely to desist, the oldest one butted me into the river.

I ask you: Who is the bully?

Misunderstood Troll

Rules and prompt revealed October 24, 2018, at 12:00 a.m. (EST). Set your watches to New York City. You will have until October 31, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. (EST) to complete the Fractured Fairy Tale contest. Norah, Anne, and Robbie will announce the prize winner plus second and third place on December 07. Carrot Ranch will post a collection of qualifying entries.

Other competitions:

Rodeo 1: Dialogue led by Geoff Le Pard and judges Chelsea Owens and Esther Chilton
Rodeo 2: Memoir led by Irene Waters and judges Angie Oakley and Helen Stromquist
Rodeo 3: Travel with a Twist led by Sherri Matthews and her judges: Mike Matthews and Hugh Roberts.
Rodeo 5: The Sound and the Fury led by D. Avery and her judge Bonnie Sheila.

The Tuffest Ride starting in September will see 5 writers qualify to compete in October and is led by Charli Mills. For Info


  1. cindy knoke says:

    I have always loved fractured fairy tales~

  2. The first one I watch on stage was Into the Wood. I loved it!

    • Norah says:

      Ah, Miriam. So you know what this contest will be about. I hope you join in!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Oh, Miriam — the 24-hour Free-Writes are only for the TUFFest Ride. The Rodeo is made up of multiple contests, each run by different leaders at the Ranch. Every Wednesday in October, a new contest will open up that is free to enter. All writers welcomed. Each one runs for a week. Winners are announced contest by contest after the entire Rodeo ends. The TUFFest Ride is the only one that has a pre-qualification. I hope you’ll join in all the Rodeo has to offer!

      • Thank you, Charli. I’ll do some in October, hopefully the pressure of the final touch of my poetry book will be off by that time. Thank you for the clarification. 🙂

  3. Ritu says:

    Already got ideas rolling around in my head!

  4. Norah says:

    Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:
    As promised, here’s some information to start your thinking in preparation for the fractured fairy tale flash fiction contest in the Carrot Ranch Rodeo next month. (Try saying that five times real fast! :))

  5. Abhijit Ray says:


  6. Fractured sounds like fun, Norah. Great post.

  7. floridaborne says:

    I have a set of books from the 1940’s with the original fairy tales. They were rather gruesome. Little red riding hood isn’t saved, she’s dinner.

    Looking forward to trying this.

  8. love a fractured fairy tale! Looking forward to this…

  9. What a Grimm event. Have you come across The 3 Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig? In my opinion “fractured” fairy tales are wonderful, another means of continuing the tale. What does damage to the tale and its characters is Disney. But I digress.
    Good on ya, Norah. This is rich.

  10. TanGental says:

    Oh goodness, my head is spitting out nonsense… was Pinocchio’s dad really the carpenter – what if he has a dna test and finds he’s beech not oak? Hansel and Gretel have planning problems because they’ve dammed the magic river with their cottage. What if the gold from the giant comes from an illegal African mine and Jack is arrested for dealing in stolen precious metals… or the seeds from the beanstalk create havoc the next summer by creating a forest of sky high vegetation blocking out the light… ooo this is going to be so good.

    • Norah says:

      Oooh, Geoff. You have a crop of ideas brewing there. If anyone is short of one, I’ll send them over to you. I’m so looking forward to reading your story. 🙂

    • Charli Mills says:

      Geoff, your curiosity fractures a million fairy tales! I’m wondering how many recognizable characters, tales, and twists you can get into a single fractured fairy tale flash fiction?

  11. calmkate says:

    oooh sounds like I might have got back air just in time 🙂
    Going back to see if I can catch that last one …

  12. syncwithdeep says:

    Fractured fairy tale.. Sounds interesting.. Fingers crossed

  13. Liz H says:

    Another much-loved source are the cartoons “Fractured Fairy Tales” featured on the Rocky and Bullwinkle show (1959-64), set in Frostbite Falls, Minnesota.
    I was doomed from the very beginning, I tell ye!

  14. This looks too fun! I may try my hand at it again this year but actually submit it instead of posting for fun. These fractured fairy tales are a favorite of mine… Eek!

  15. I am looking forward to reading all the lovely fractured fairy stories, Norah and Charli.

  16. dgkaye says:

    Oh this does sound like so much fun! Which event shall I choose? Will I choose them all? We’ll soon find out! 🙂 xx

  17. Oh Norah, what a wonderful contest you’ve dished up for us! I can’t wait to give this one a go. I remember Revolting Rhymes, the incomprarable Roald Dahl enjoyed in many a reading session with my children. But I especially love your flash, having just returned from Norway where trolls roam just about everywhere, and just goes to show that some trolls have definitely had a lot of bad press. So much to think about! 🙂

  18. Sounds enticing and fun. I gather the stories are not for children? Do we know the word count yet?

    • Charli Mills says:

      The contests will release on each Wednesday complete with rules. You can expect a certain word count given what we typically write. 😉 All genres welcome — we won’t publish this for children, but that doesn’t mean you can’t write the flash for a younger audience. Hope you join in!

  19. […] Do you love fairy tales? Chances are, unless you are a parent or grandparent of young children or an early childhood educator as I am, you may not have encountered a fairy tale for a while. Well, I am about to change that by asking you to fracture a fairy tale for the fourth Carrot Ranch rodeo contest. [READ MORE…] […]

  20. This sounds fun, Norah. I don’t do writing prompts as I usually have a huge TBW (to be written) pile that awaits me. I’ll see what others write!

  21. Jennie says:

    Of all the fractured fairy tales I have read, and I’ve read many, Mo Willems “Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs is the best!

  22. Thank you so much, Norah for the clear instruction and examples of the fairy tales and fractured fairy tales. Tara Lazar’s tips are very helpful.
    I love the tales by Anne and Robbie. Thank you for giving me excellent examples.
    I’ll have my entry in soon! >3

  23. <3 <3 <3 <3 for Charli, Norah, Anne, and Robbie!

  24. Reblogged this on The Showers of Blessings and commented:
    Round up your favorite fairy tales, throw them into the pot, churn, stir, spin them around, and turn them into one piece, or take our one piece of the mixture and see what it looks like!
    Join the fun with the great prompt from Norah Colvin, <3

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