Ideas for writing a tall tale include fish stories in which the narrator embellishes the actual facts of a fishing trip, or any other outlandish story told in a playful manner. Tall tales involve the use of hyperbole, which is an exaggerated account of an event, either real or imagined, that is not intended to be taken seriously.
A tall tale is usually told in first person with the narrator present at the scene of the story, even if the tale took place years earlier. When composing a tall tale, plausible facts should be mixed in with the more outlandish ones to give the story substance and to allow for the suspension of disbelief. Tall tales are meant to be entertaining and are often comical.
However, a tall tale is not as simple as a joke, which typically involves only the setup and the punch line. Instead, a tall tale has elements of classic storytelling, which includes the set-up, a turning point event, rising conflict and a satisfying conclusion.
Tall tales are an essential part of American folk literature. They describe legendary folk heroes, such as Paul Bunyan — a giant lumberjack with superhuman strength who could accomplish amazing feats. Historically, tall tales often took the form of bragging contests amongst the settlers of the American frontier.