Friday, January 27, 2012

Gaining Something From Fairy Tales and Mythology

I hear authors all of the time telling me that there are no new stories out there. Whenever I hear this, I am always frustrated. Unfortunately, these writers are missing the point. There are a ton of new stories out there. What these authors seem to think is that we just recycle plots. In reality, what we tap into are similar motifs and story elements. This is when we go to stories such as Fairy Tales and Mythology.

When we think about mythology, every culture has stories that go back to the beginning of time. What researchers will often tell us, is that stories have used the same ideas and motifs over time. Each time they tell a story they draw on similar ideas to convey a bigger message. Again, we are not talking about using the same plot, but combining elements of character, conflict and such.

Think about the common fairy tales we have. Let's start with Cinderella. We have a simple story of rags to riches. But, within that story, we can draw on different character and plot elements and put these into our stories:
  • The conflict between jealous siblings and someone who gets something from nothing.
  • The evil step mother
  • The idea of things just showing up when you need it.
We don't have to simply use the whole storyline, but just take the pieces we need.

What about the Beauty and Beast storyline?
  • Finding something in a person we don't view as being likeable
  • A character hating themself because of how they look
  • The concept of punishnment for being mean
In the end, a successful author sees patterns in writing. They see how elements from other stories can be tapped into to enhance their own writing. Don't limit yourself to simply the entire plot. Just work with pieces and build on that.

Have a great weekend.


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