Hang Your Story on a Folklore Skeleton


by Tim Kane

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There are plenty of myths and stories that have been handed down for generations. Originality is a delusion. Use these stories to structure your own manuscript.

Hero’s Journey
There’s the now classic Joseph Campbell hero’s journey. Here the hero has a call to adventure, travels from his ordinary world through an ordeal and back again. The Hobbit is a perfect example of this format. The original version might be Odysseus.

This is a creation myth where the younger generation wrests control from the older ruling class. This is a classic revolution story that has its roots in the struggle of the Olympians and the Titans. Zeus’ brothers and sisters were swallowed whole by his dad, Chronos. Any story where a teenager rebels against his or her parents takes a page from this myth (hopefully without any child swallowing).

The Dying God
Many myths deal with a god that dies and then comes back to life. A medieval version of this story is the Arthurian cycle. As the king dies, so does the land. Only with the grail does he revive.

The Creative Sacrifice
Many myths deal with one god sacrificing him or herself to benefit others. The goddess Persephone agrees to travel to the underworld for three months out of every year to honor her marriage with Hades (thus the winter months). The Norse god Tyr allowed his hand to be consumed by the wild wolf Fenrir as a distraction to let the gods chain the beast. Many action films show central figures sacrificing themselves to save the day.

Myths endure for a reason. The stories attract us. The themes are universal. You can’t steal from something that’s part of a shared heritage.


About Tim Kane

Tim Kane is a writer of fiction.
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1 Response to Hang Your Story on a Folklore Skeleton

  1. Pingback: Top Picks Thursday 9-20-2012 « The Author Chronicles

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