Articles,  Behind the Scenes

The importance of myth

640px-Paradise_Lost_1When I think of all the stories I have written or am writing one thing that stands out to me in retrospect is the sheer amount of myth I put into my stories. Everything from scrolls holding Bible-like texts that the characters follow and believe, to the way the world works and the roles of the characters set into a framework of expectations, past histories and destinies. In all of these, mythologies are what hold them together.

But why?
Because they enable me to show the reader more than just what is happening but what could happen or what they expect to happen based on the histories and stories that make sense to those characters. It opens up different ways to convey how the worlds work and what the people believe and shows the reader what motivates and guides the characters in a more interesting way (I think) than me just telling you.

Myth, stories, beliefs, ideals, they make us tick in our day to day lives so it makes sense for these same things to be present in the worlds and characters I come up with.

More often than not I am not really given a choice when I begin writing a book or a character there will be something they do or say that will make me pause for thought, something I wouldn’t do, say or think and from that their underlying psychology or even the wider mythology of the world begins to take shape.

I love this way of fleshing out the world and the characters but it is not without its drawbacks, the main one being scale: often these myths end up being massive, sprawling across millions of years of in-story time and even being the link between different stories. I quite like having these themes interconnecting my stories but each story has to be able to be read on its own and that’s when the drawbacks or at least the difficulties set it: making them understandable both as part of that one story and part of a bigger whole.

Nonetheless I find it fun and challenging and love doing it and watching these myths evolve.

p.s. I also did a video about this topic here.

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