Write a Fable

Select one of the moral messages from the list below:

• A false tale often betrays itself.
• A fine appearance is a poor substitute for inward worth.
• A man is known by the company he keeps.
• A villain may disguise himself, but he will not deceive the wise.
• Acquaintance softens prejudices.
• An act of kindness is a good investment.
• Beauty is only skin-deep.
• Better a certain enemy than a doubtful friend.
• Do not attempt to hide things which cannot be hid.
• Do not attempt too much at once.
• Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.
• Do not try to do that which is not natural to you.
• Equals make the best friends.
• Every man for himself.
• Every tale is not to be believed.
• He who tries to please everybody pleases nobody.
• If words suffice not, blows must follow.
• In avoiding one evil, care must be taken not to fall into another.
• It is better to bend than to break.
• It is easy to kick a man that is down.
• It is not always wise to take people at their word.
• Look before you leap.
• Misfortune tests the sincerity of friends.

Think carefully about what this moral message means and complete one of the following activities.

Activity 1

A fable is a story with a moral message that often features anthropomorphised animals who speak and act like human beings. The most well-known fables – including The Tortoise and the Hare – were written by  a Greek slave called Aesop who lived around 550 BC. After reading Animal Farm, write a fable of your own that teaches the moral message that you selected from the list above.

Before you write your fable, try to think about the type of animals who will be your characters. What are the traits of these characters? Donkeys are often considered foolish and pigs greedy, for example. If your story has a villain, make sure you pick out an animal that fits that description like a snake or a crocodile. Likewise, if there’s a hero in your story, pick an animal that people often think about as noble.

Think carefully about the names of your characters and what they might suggest about your characters. In Animal Farm, for example, the name ‘Snowball’ has good and virtuous connotations, ‘Boxer’ makes you think of someone who is a fighter and ‘Squealer’ certainly lives up to his name by spouting shrill propaganda.

Start off with a scene that establishes the setting and the characters through the use of description. Show them interacting through the use of dialogue.

Activity 2

Write a short story that demonstrates one of the moral messages on the list above. Your short story should use dialogue and description to help engage the reader. You should also try to show, rather than tell when you’re writing your story.