Last week, I shared my notes and ideas from a panel I sat through at ConDor Con in San Diego, CA. The panel was titled Using Mythology as a Basis for Fiction and was given by Stephen Provost. This week, I will wrap up my observations and notes. For the first part, click here.
Myth is often a reflection of real life or at least a way to explain things before science stepped in. Mordred vs. Arthur, Zeus vs. Kronos, Lucifer vs. Yahweh, Ishtar vs. Baal, Prometheus vs. all the gods. Of course, it does depend on who triumphed and then got to write the stories. Imagine if Lucifer had vanquished Yahweh’s angels and managed to tempt His son.
Warrior gods and weather/storm gods most often figure in conflict myths rather than creation. Game of Thrones pits new gods against old, Tolkien wrote the myths of the British Isles as war stories.
One of the best coming of age of a hero story is Spider-Man. Peter Parker is not a paragon, he’s someone most readers can relate to. While his life changes forever after he is bitten, he remains a slightly nerdy teenager when he’s not saving others.
Greek gods were never seen as perfect, either. They had foibles, were jealous, had affairs, fathered children indiscriminately, had rivals, and fought one another. This brings up the concept of the hero always wins. That no longer fits in with real life.
These days, audiences want gritty and realistic heroes. That’s why Deadpool has been so popular, why Ironman is loved, and Wolverine is flawed but sympathetic. By the way, somewhere back in time, Robert Downey, Jr., was predestined to be Ironman. No other person could ever have played Tony Stark and the guy in the suit as well as that actor.
Sometimes the hero changes to the villain week by week. If you watch national wrestling, you know this happens to keep the audience engaged. You see the flawed hero take the last blow, then come back with a vengeance.
Go ahead and give your hero super powers. It’s okay. But write in flaws and a kryptonite of one kind or another. As a writer, you make people realize they have abilities possibly hidden. When they look for more good inside, they will nurture the growth of those qualities.
There you have it. Pick a myth, learn it backward and forwards, avoid cliches, especially if you do another vampire book or another ghost book. Make your story unique. Make it your own. Thanks for reading, hope to hear from you in the future. Catch me on Facebook.