How to Write a Tall Tale for 5th Grade

Tall tales are stories about American pioneers.

Tall tales are stories of the American pioneers in the 1800s. They were originally written to give people courage when they were exploring and settling the wilderness, which sometimes felt overwhelming. The tall tales told stories of pioneers who had super strength, super size or other characteristics that made it easier for them to handle the wild forests and mountains they were trying to conquer. Tall tales all include three things: a main character with a mission and exaggerated powers or characteristics, a problem with a funny solution, and exaggerated descriptions of details in the story.

Create a main character for your story. This character can have some sort of super power, or he can have other exaggerated characteristics. For example, maybe she can jump 50 feet in the air, or maybe his beard is so big that he can hide things in it. She should also have a particular job or mission to accomplish.

Visualize a setting for your story. Your teacher may want you to set it in the Wild West or in pioneer days or only require that you set it in the United States. Pay attention to the instructions.

Outline the plot for your story. Your main character should accomplish a mission or solve a problem with help from his super power or exaggerated characteristic. For example, your character who can jump 50 feet is able to cross a river without a bridge to get to where she is going, or your character with the enormous beard can hide birds in it and do magic tricks to raise money for his mission.

Plan your exaggerated details. A tall tale includes descriptions of events, people or places that are told in an exaggerated way. Remember to keep your details true to the setting you have chosen. For example, you may decide to talk about the river your character must cross as "louder than a herd of buffalo," but you should not describe it as "louder than a helicopter."

Write your story, following the plot outline you have already written and using the exaggerated descriptions you have planned.

  • Remember to make your ending funny! Tall tales have happy endings that make the reader laugh.

Stephanie Mitchell is a professional writer who has authored websites and articles for real estate agents, self-help coaches and casting directors. Mitchell also regularly edits websites, business correspondence, resumes and full-length manuscripts. She graduated from Syracuse University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater.