I love reading fairy tales, myths and legends. I have a ton of those sorts of books on my bookshelves. I haven’t done this in a while, but I used to regularly randomly pick up one of those books and just skim through some of the myths every now and again. May have to start doing that again.
I also love writing myths. When I’m writing epic fantasy, I’ve found myself starting off by writing the creation myths. What a people believe about their origins can inform a lot of their current, daily actions and thoughts.
For the current book, I had to write more than one creation myth, one for each of the people in the world. Then, while I was actually writing the books, I’ve had to come up with myths and legends on the fly – something like, “If only she could communicate with the animals like the heroine XX!”
I’ve kept track of every one of those myths I’ve created. I’m thinking about writing them all out after I finish the novels, creating my own “Bullfinch’s Mythology” book for the world.
In addition, I have been thinking a lot about how the current heroes and heroines of the books will be remembered. While they are doing what’s necessary for their people to survive, will the they be remembered as the heroes? Or as the villains?
For example, one of the older female characters is pretty much out of fucks. She’s stubborn and opinionated. The elders don’t really respect her because of things that she’s done in the past. She is doing what she needs to do in order to save her people. She’s also killing a lot of people. Once all those who know her personally have died, will she be remembered as a good person? A hero? Or as a villain?
Her people will win, will be the victors, and will be writing the histories. But her people also don’t have much in terms of the written word or books. It’s mainly oral story telling.
I’ve been thinking that if I write out the myths I’ve been gathering into their own collection, I might add a section at the end entitled, “Two Hundred Years Later” and write out the myths of the heroes who are alive in these books, describe how they’re remembered, write out the tales that are told by them, though the reader will know the truth.
And I think that’s it for this morning. I’m going to a special Mystery Writer’s of America event today – “Tracking the Crime Scene”. If you’re a local, I would advise joining MWA because the local chapter is really active. www.mwanorthwest.com
So what’s your favorite myth? Or your favorite ways to use myths in your writing?