Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Examining Myths and Legends to Create Back Story
There is one major part of the overall back story/mythology for the series I was stuck on. Well, not so much stuck on as I just knew it wasn't completely fleshed out and wasn't sure where to go with it.
I'm participating in a Wheel of Time read-along right now. Robert Jordan's epic fantasy is pretty much my favorite series of all time and has been an unending inspiration to me as a writer. Jordan had not only an epic plot, but he fleshed his characters and settings out so well that no one can really compare to him.
It got me started thinking about myths and legends. You always hear it said that there are actually a finite number of stories in the world. All stories conform to one template or another, depending on the genre and plot type you want to have. It's details like character quirks, themes, motifs, and world-building that makes each plot new and exciting. Myths and legends play into that a lot. Many of our story templates come from myths, legends, and stories that have been around for thousands of years.
It occurred to me that if any writer is stuck about how to flesh out a plot--specifically the backs story to a world or character, or a history of any kind--it might behoove them to try and apply basic myths and legends to their world and see what fits.
Not that you should chronicle an allegory of the Fall every time you get stuck, but try to apply all kinds of myths--whether Christian stories, the basic templates of the Greeks (i.e. man vs. nature, man vs. himself, man vs. man) or some other cultural story--to see what sparks in your mind. You might be surprised how easy it becomes to flesh out your story based on these common stories.
I did this and was able to flesh out the back story for my dragon world. (Yea!)
What myths and legends have you used to help you write your stories?