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Author: Subject: [Fantasy] Using real myth in fiction
Anagnorisis09
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[*] posted on 6-9-2011 at 08:51 PM
Using real myth in fiction


I've been doing research on mythology and reading specific references in the Bible, Dante's Inferno, and Milton's Paradise Lost (and thinking about Goethe's Faust) so that I can find something on which to base my own supernatural creatures. However, whatever literary/biblical reference point I'm going to use is just that--a reference, a STARTING point. The specific traits and abilities of my supernaturals will all be of my own imagination.

Should my supernaturals be more closely tied to real myth as portrayed in the Bible or literature or world cultures? For example, two of my favorite series, Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy and Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments are both constructed from actual cultural beliefs and Biblical ideas. Mead's vampires are based on Romanian folklore, while Clare's Shadowhunters and plots make Biblical and Jewish Kabbalah references.

I'm finding it difficult to base my supernaturals on something real without imitating other authors. (And I personally hate doing research.) The idea that's stuck with me for a while is that the creatures are fallen angels or demonic in some way...and then the specifics of said creatures are up to my own interpretations and logic.

Would you as a reader find it acceptable that a writer's supernatural world is the product of the writer's own rules and ideas that you've never heard of--instead of being loosely based off traditional myth and actual literature?
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cheyenne.r.trumbo
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[*] posted on 6-9-2011 at 09:04 PM


As long as it's explained well enough, that is, not over explained in an explanatory way, I will, as a reader, find anything acceptable.

If there is a certain way you see then, portray them in that way to your reader and don't harsh the small stuff. If you want to see how other's do it, hell, that's okay too.

Sometimes something unheard of, not seen, something novel is GOOD. It's not always something to be feared. I say go for it.




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[*] posted on 6-9-2011 at 09:08 PM


Don't use the Bible for myth. It will be controversial to your religious readers. I am Atheist and I don't see the Bible as myth, but more, a set of stories meant to teach morals. In my opinion any spin-offs of Biblical stories meant to reveal false truths or create intentionally false images to praise or put down God and whether he exists are stories I will not find enjoyable enough to read. Others might, however, but this is my opinion.

If you want to create supernatural concepts in a way I'd be willing to read, you can be unique with the supernatural existence. Reusing cliche supernatural themes tends to be completely overdone. Making your own from scratch gives you another advantage- you also have complete control over the history of your concepts. For example, Twilight vampires don't resemble vampires much at all as we may see them from other references, but Meyer made her own laws and properties and abilities and weaknesses and stuck them into a plot that we largely would not have considered fit for vampires. Huge success.




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[*] posted on 6-10-2011 at 01:42 PM


I would think it matters one way or another, as long as it is done well. It all depends on what you want. But I think that if you want to give the impression of a close connection to the real world, it might be easier if you keep more close to the real world references. If you don't want any connection to the real world, then you should not have many, or even any at all. Biblical references in a world where the Bible don't exist? Not going to work that well.



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[*] posted on 6-29-2011 at 10:52 PM


There's something I would like to discuss about before starting on my own venture on the world of story writing.

I am thinking about something more phenomenal in terms of "real" myths - "real" as in it's something predicted, yet it never happened. It's the myth of planets crashing into Earth and causing a so-called "Doomsday".

I know that this has caused an uproar over the years as these kind of predictions happened over the years. What I want to know is that, is it really OK to use this as a small little theme to move the story?

I want to talk about more of this story I'm planning to write, but I would need to do so later. But just a little "disclaimer", I am NOT writing a story about how a planet would crash into Earth (as that would be TOO SHORT to even talk about). I emphasize that, I am only referring to the theme of involving such a theory that is deemed ridiculous by many.

Let me know if I have not explained myself clearly. I just wrote what I have come up almost immediately when I see this topic.
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[*] posted on 6-30-2011 at 08:38 AM


Quote: Originally posted by twindelphine  
There's something I would like to discuss about before starting on my own venture on the world of story writing.

I am thinking about something more phenomenal in terms of "real" myths - "real" as in it's something predicted, yet it never happened. It's the myth of planets crashing into Earth and causing a so-called "Doomsday".

I know that this has caused an uproar over the years as these kind of predictions happened over the years. What I want to know is that, is it really OK to use this as a small little theme to move the story?

I want to talk about more of this story I'm planning to write, but I would need to do so later. But just a little "disclaimer", I am NOT writing a story about how a planet would crash into Earth (as that would be TOO SHORT to even talk about). I emphasize that, I am only referring to the theme of involving such a theory that is deemed ridiculous by many.

Let me know if I have not explained myself clearly. I just wrote what I have come up almost immediately when I see this topic.


I'd read a story like that. Apocalypse myths are awesome.

I'm pretty sure nobody worries too much if you use science-based myths in fiction. It's mythology that has a basis in someone's religion that can get writers into trouble.




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[*] posted on 7-1-2011 at 09:16 AM


I think that its definately ok for you to make up your own myths/mythological creatures. The important thing is that your characters believe in them and that they behave logically. By that I mean that they follow some sort of rules. For example, like any character the creature has to be well developed, with its own limitations and boundaries that remain steady (unless they go through some process of change).
If your characters believe in them, your readers will too.
I've actually thought about this a lot because I tend to work with magical realism. There are a handful of books I've read recently that are set in bizarre/completely made up worlds. And yet they still WORKED. Why is that?
Everything flowed naturally. The characters were grounded within that world.
Hope this helps! Good luck!
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[*] posted on 7-18-2011 at 01:21 AM


I look at it this way:
I'm a writer so I can create new worlds, new creatures, new peoples, new religions, and new stories. Not to be hemmed in by old prototypes.

Usually, though, I take what I know of real myths/religion + fantasy I've read, both all-new and real-myth/religion (of which there are several hundred, possibly thousands) based + what I've read/observed in person of people and how they react. Then I throw all this in the cauldron of my subconscious, stir, bank the fire to simmer, and let it brew. Periodically, I dip a ladle in and pull out a new world with its own rules, creatures, supernaturals, peoples, and religions and cultures.

Frankly, I see nothing wrong with creating your own supernaturals, etc. However, I FIRMLY believe that a wide base, the wider the better, of knowledge to draw from can only make your worlds and details better, more detailed, and more real to the reader. (And you.) I think if you can love your characters, you've taken the biggest step. The other good way to know you've got a winner is to get a reader who doesn't normally read your sort of fiction (fantasy) and see if you can make them fall in love with your characters, too. And one who does read your sort of fiction and will ruthlessly point out things that those who are unfamiliar with the genre wouldn't catch.

Lol. Look at me sounding all pompous. But really, there's a lot of easy research available on-line, and taking notes when you run across something interesting in any context is a good idea. I'm one of those people with a detail-oriented memory, and who writes from scenes that spring to life in full color in my head, so I usually take mental notes and do just as i said above. Even though it does sound a bit pompous. :) Oh, well. I rarely do actual research, mainly because I'm lazy, but in part because I've read thousands of books, and done study on history, Bible/religion, geography, politics, etc. for school and that gives me a decent amount to draw on, most of the time. When I do stop and research, though, I sometimes will spend hours researching one tiny detail...
...Which isn't the point, I guess. Just bear in mind that "People are diverse". New religions pop up all the time. New mythos do too, but more slowly, usually closely/loosely based on earlier mythos. Still, as you've noticed, religion has its own forms of mythos entwined inextricably through it, and usually closely tied to local myths. Which, of course, means new mythos pop into existence on a constant basis. And diversity is a fascinating thing...
As a reader, I always enjoy encountering new supernaturals and such.
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