Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mythos and the Muse

by Calista Taylor

I've heard it said that there are no new stories, only new ways to tell them, and I think this is very true. Although the possibilities seem endless, I'm afraid writers often jump on the bandwagon when a particular story becomes popular. Wizards, vampires, werewolves, zombies anyone? Unfortunately, trying to follow a trend can be a difficult thing to do, because unless your timing is perfect or you have a truly amazing twist, it becomes difficult to make your story stand out amongst all the others that are similar.

So instead of traveling down a road thronged with people, why not pick a path less traveled? I would suggest embracing the old and making it new again.

I've often found myself paging through an encyclopedia of mythology as my imagination races through the possibilities. There are so many mythological creatures to pick from, and so many amazing stories waiting to be retold in a new and fresh way that's relevant to our time.

Here are a few sites on mythology and mythological creatures to help guide your muse down a path less traveled.


If there are any other links you find useful but that we haven't posted, please let us know by leaving a comment.

Do you often use mythology for inspiration? Where do your new story ideas come from?

15 comments:

Ruth said...

Loved this post. It's true that there are only so many themes and I love your ideas.

I'm a rather boring reader. Give me a good category romance and I'm happy. Sure I know where the story is going form almost page one, but much like slipping on my favorite sweats at the end of the day, it's comfortable. I love unique humor and interesting twists as long as they don't break the unspoken promise of the category romance.

Calista Taylor said...

Ruth, I too have my go-to story types, but I love it when the writer puts a new twist on things. It's like falling in love all over again. :)

Richard said...

Never have. But I don't write genre fiction. Of course, never say never.

Anonymous said...

Sophie Perinot said . . .

(yes I typed that in myself because blogger continues to distain me)

We in historical fiction are huge fans of the "everything old is new again" concept. Some go as far back as myth. Many stop along the way to take their inspiration from events or characters that are long past but contain at their core some illumination of the human condition which will never be outdated.

Calista Taylor said...

Richard, writing outside of genre fiction can certainly still make use of the mythologies and tales of old. As Sophie pointed out, the stories have at their core the human condition, which changes little over time.

Sophie, that's so very true! Historical fiction is great for revisiting the old and making it new and fresh again.

Connie Jensen said...

Thanks for this reminder about the eternal truth of archetypes- came just as I was re-reading Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey. Although not available online, you can get Kathleen Herbert's English Heroic Legends from Amazon at http://amzn.to/jK5g8r She wrote it with the express purpose of giving writers old stories to cast in new moulds. I am personally acquainted with one writer who is doing just that.

Calista Taylor said...

Connie, thank you for the recommendation. It looks like it'd be a great addition to any writer's collection. And I'm so happy to hear you already know of one author retelling the stories of old.

Jemi Fraser said...

The publishing industry doesn't move quickly so following those trends is kinda crazy. Much better to find a new twist on something! A lot more fun :) Thanks for all the links!

jennysararyan said...

I was having a hard time figuring out how to write my next novel. Like you say, so many stories have already been told. So I have decided to open it up to the readers--it's like a choose-your-own adventure where the readers vote on what I write next! (come visit at youweregoingtobefantastic.blogspot.com)

So far no one has recommended I write about zombies but I know they're coming! Either zombies or unicorns...?

Calista Taylor said...

Jemi, it really is so hard to time a trend just right so that it works to your advantage.

Jenny, sounds like loads of fun! Maybe zombie unicorns? ; )

Rick said...

Good references, Cali, and good post. Trying to jump onto a trend is most often catching a train that's passed, but going back to the age-old mythos and archetypes, the wellspring of all storytelling, is a path to stories that, as Sophie said,"contain at their core some illumination of the human condition." It can work for genre fiction and even literary, where the "hero's journey" is more interior, within the character's arc.

I was also thinking of Vogler's book (a great resource) and had found this IMO good summary: http://www.divineparadox.com/arts/archetypes_on_the_path.htm

Now back to the zombie unicorns...

Leslie Rose said...

Fantastic links. I'm totally immersed in Joseph Campbell's myth work at the moment. It's a treasure chest of story ideas.

Calista Taylor said...

Thanks for stopping by, Rick and Leslie! Both the link and book sound like excellent resources!! It's always so much fun to explore story ideas and find new inspirations.

Christopher Hudson said...

I wish I was fast enough to get on board with a trend ... but by the time I get something going, it's already nostalgia.

Calista Taylor said...

Christopher, that's why it's best to write something new and fresh.