Using the Myths to Guide You

When walking past Barnes and Noble the other day, I noticed a flyer for an upcoming author’s panel and book signing. I like to attend local events in my hood, and when there’s something posted that has the words ‘myth, magic, and madness’, you can bet I’m all over that.

I awkwardly stumbled into the bookstore’s conference room, not really aware of the RSVP policy, but was able to secure a seat anyway. It was there I met authors Kathie Fong Yoneda and Pamela Jaye Smith, otherwise known as my fiction fairy godmothers. Not only did they provide me with invaluable writing information and storytelling techniques, they also opened up a portal to an aspect of fiction writing I’ve been eager to learn about; and that was using ancient myths as the background or basis of your story.

This may be old news to a lot of you, but for me it was like a breath of fresh air. I knew I always wanted to create a relationship between my story and some particular ancient tales of time, but I never knew the right etiquette to go about doing so. Would it be considered plagiarism for referring to these artistic monuments? Was there some unspoken rule about incorporating them into more current works of art? It was encouraging to hear other fiction authors not only approving this route but recommending it, and it instantly brought back that fire that had dwindled down in the past few months. Yoneda and Smith stressed these stories were written to interpret them in your own way, and it’s up to you to mold them and make it your own.

I read and write to leave the mundane instances of everyday life and transport to another world. The impact a good book can have on someone is priceless, and it is these types of moments I wish to create. Intertwining these myths only makes your story more believable, as if the magic could manifest outside your window.

Do you like to use ancient myths and stories to guide your writing? Shape your characters or setting? And if so, is there any particular one that has had made more of an impact on your work than others?

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