13 Underrated Folktale & Folklore Inspired Story Ideas (2023)

Folktale and Folklore Inspired Story Ideas and Writing Prompts

Looking for enticing and creative folk tale inspired story ideas and writing prompts? You’ve come to the right place!

Read on for story ideas like a fox shape-shifter that loves to steal human’s energy by way of a deep kiss, or the adventure of a rain charmer in a land plagued by frequent flooding!

Enjoying what you read? Buy me a ko-fi here šŸ™‚

Jump to Section

Related posts:
14 Chilling Urban Legend Story Ideas and Writing Prompts
Dark and Eerie Gothic Story Ideas
Mesmerizing Fantasy World Ideas
Urban Fantasy Story Ideas and Writing Prompts
22 Spellbinding Witch Story Ideas
Deep Dark Fantasy Story Ideas & Writing Prompts


folktale or folk tale is a folklore genre that typically consists of a story passed down from generation to generation orally, often involving fantastical or supernatural elements and are used to convey important cultural values, beliefs, and customs.

They may also include animals, magical creatures, or ordinary people who encounter and overcome challenges or obstacles in order to learn important life lessons. Folk tales are a form of folklore and can be found in cultures all over the world, often with variations in plot and characters depending on the specific cultural context in which they are told.

Folktale vs. mythology

Folktales and mythology are both types of traditional stories that are passed down through generations. However, there are some key differences between the two.

Mythology often refers to a system of stories and beliefs that explain the origins of the world and the gods or supernatural beings who created and control it, involving a complex and interconnected set of stories and characters, and may be associated with a particular culture or religion. It is no wonder that mythology is often transmitted through formal religious or cultural institutions, such as temples or oral traditions that are maintained by priests or other religious leaders.

Folktales, on the other hand, are often simpler, self-contained stories that are intended for entertainment or to teach a lesson, exploring themes such as love, bravery, and cleverness. They may involve supernatural elements, but are not typically part of a larger mythological system. Furthermore, folktales, by contrast, are often transmitted through informal means, such as storytelling or popular literature.

Modern retellings of folk tales

Modern retellings of folk tales are important for several reasons:

1. Cultural preservation: Many folk tales have been passed down orally from generation to generation and are a part of a culture’s oral tradition. By retelling these stories in a modern context, we can ensure that they are preserved and passed down to future generations in a new and relevant way.

2. Relevance: While the themes and lessons of folk tales are timeless, the specific details and context may not always be relevant to a modern audience. By retelling these stories in a contemporary setting, we can make them more relatable and engaging for modern readers and viewers.

3. Diversity: Many traditional folk tales come from specific cultural backgrounds and may not be as widely known or understood by people outside of those cultures. By retelling these stories in a modern context with diverse characters and perspectives, we can broaden their appeal and make them more accessible to a wider audience.

4. Exploration of themes: Folk tales often contain important lessons and themes that are relevant to our lives today. By retelling these stories in new and innovative ways, we can explore these themes in greater depth and provide new insights and perspectives on them.

Examples of modern retellings of folk tales

Did you know that “zombie” is originally a term that comes from Haitian folklore? Beyond zombies, vampires and werewolves, here are some more examples of modern retelling of folk tales.

“The Gracekeepers” by Kirsty Logan is a dystopian novel that draws inspiration from Scottish and Scandinavian folklores, featuring a world where the sea has engulfed much of the land.

If ancient creatures are more your thing, “The Golem and the Jinni” by Helene Wecker is a historical fantasy novel set in New York City in the late 19th century, featuring – you guessed it – a golem and a jinni who must navigate their way through human society and confront their own limitations and desires.

Folk tales can also be reimagined to fit a more adult readership base. “The Bloody Chamber” by Angela Carter is a collection of short stories that draws on various fairy tales and folk tales, but reimagines them in a darker and more sensual way.

In a more family-oriented note, “The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey is a novel inspired by a Russian fairy tale, featuring a childless couple who create a snow child that comes to life and becomes a part of their family.

Folk Tale Inspired Story Ideas and Writing Prompts

So, you want to write a folk tale inspired story? Let’s dive in for some intriguing story ideas!

Instead of drawing inspiration from famous folktale characters (because I’m sure we’ve had enough Cinderella and King Arthur retellings), we’ll take a look at fascinating folktales from around the world, which will hopefully drench you in inspiration.

Please note that the genders in these prompts and story ideas are just placeholders. It is not the intention to enforce any hurtful stereotypes or offend anyone.

Manuscript Critique


Here are some folktale-inspired story ideas with adventure as the main underlining theme.

1. The twelve Chinese Zodiac

Put a fresh spin into the origins of the Chinese Zodiac, which could stand on its own as a bedtime story for little children. Or, paired with a teenage hero or heroine, spin it into a coming-of-age story.

2. The keeper of the forest and his half woman, half snake wife

Papa Bois is a popular folklore character of St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. He’s the keeper of the forest, with short stature and cloven hooves. He is married to Mama D’Leau, the healer of river animals. Her tongue is forked, with elongated and coiled lower body resembling a snake.

If that is not a promising idea for an adventure story, I don’t know what is.

3. The stone labyrinth

This is a picture of the stone labyrinth of BlƄ Jungfrun, Sweden. Who made it? Why? What awaits at the end of the labyrinth, or inside of it? Let your imagination soar, and tell an origin story of the labyrinth

4. The Golden Conch

The story of a golden snail or conch that houses a normal-sized human is a prevalent folklore in many Asian countries including Thailand, Korea, and Indonesia.

Think of it as a variation of the genie in the bottle, but with a human and a conch.

5. The Shape-shifting Shaman

If a shaman may transform the course of history by the influence they have over the ruling monarch, what about a shaman/shapeshifter? Inspired by the Scandinavian gonagas, a Scandinavian shaman with an ability to change into a bird figure.

6. The Rain Charmer

You’ve heard of rainmaking or rain dance ritual, which is the ritual to invoke rain. But have you heard of a rainstopper or a rain charmer? It’s a ritual from Indonesia that is done to divert rain clouds from ruining important events such as weddings and other celebrations. It might be unthinkable to other cultures and countries, but in a tropical country in which rain falls in approximately 233 days in a year, stopping rain is sometimes a necessity.

So what do you think? A face off between a rain charmer and a rainmaker? Or what about a rain charmer who’s stranded in a barren country and is forced to learn the craft of ranmaking? Or a rain charmer who allies with a dragon to control the weather?

7. The black dog and the white dog

The cadejo is part of the Guatemalan folklore, a dog-shaped supernatural spirit that often appears to travelers at night. The black cadejo seeks to harm those travelers while the white cadejo seeks to protect them from harm, however, it is said that turning one’s back on either of them or speaking to it will be a recipe for disaster.

Play around with the concept to highlight that classic pull and push between evil and good.


1. The Goddess of the Sea

Poseidon, who? If you ask any Indonesians, Javanese in particular, they’d be quick to tell you about the borderline mythical Nyi Roro Kidul, the magnificent ruler of the sea. In its native Indonesia, this folktale has inspired many retellings of the enigmatic, legendary woman who ensnares men with her beauty, magic and charm.

Her Chinese counterpart is Mazu, a shamaness who is revered as the deity of seafarers following her death.

2. Human-bearing tree

I’ll see your dryads and tree nymphs, and raise you Nariphon, a tree from Thai folklore which bears humanoid female creatures as its fruits. Created by the god Indra for the purpose of distracting other men’s lust away from his wife, these fruits will wither if unpicked within seven days since their appearance on the tree.

3. The fire demon

From Japanese folklore, Akuma is an evil, female fire demon said to be the cause of mental illness. Diana Wynne Jones‘ Howl’s Moving Castle is an example of a fire demon retelling with a fascinating origin story.

4. The dhampir

Commonly associated with Balkan folklore, dhampir is the offspring of a vampire and a human. I think it will be fun to play with the concept of dhampir in an original story. Make up their characteristics in comparison to their parental heritage, and so on and so forth.

5. The cambion

In the same mixed parentage camp, we also have the cambion. It has its root in the European folklore, and is said to be the result of a union between an incubus, a sucubus, or other type of demon, with a human.

6. The Korean half-fox, half-human creature

Kumiho, the Korean half-fox half-human, shares some similarities to the ChineseĀ huli jingĀ and the JapaneseĀ kitsune. However, Kumiho has an intriguing exception: it can steal human’s energy via a method that resembles a deep kiss. But, if the human is somehow able to swallow the yeowoo guseul (fox marble/bead) of the Kumiho, the act may grant the human preternatural knowledge.

A very intriguing premise with many potential for drama and, of course, romance.



I hope the various folktale and folklore inspired story ideas and writing prompts above spark some inspiration in you! If you need more story ideas and prompts, please browse our Story Ideas & Writing Prompts Category!

Have any question or feedback? Feel free to contact me here. Until next time!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase using these links.

Leave a Comment


Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

Follow by Email