Writing Exercise: Be Myth-Taken

Mist in the valley beyond the stub lightSince the dawn of time, people have been telling stories to explain the parts of life that don’t quite make sense. The most powerful of these stories became repeated and repeated and repeated until they became sacred to the people who told them. A myth is more than a story that engages your readers – it is one that connects to them on a primal or even spiritual level.

Myths can be divided into several categories. One of the most popular, the creation myth, deals with the mysteries of how humankind became humankind. Sometimes, our species is created by a divine being. Other times, we wander onto the stage from the same shadowy realm as the divine beings themselves.

When humanity is not being created in a myth, it is frequently being destroyed in one. The end of the world, just like its beginning, can happen in a variety of different ways. Angry gods, cosmic catastrophes, and even plagues of zombies might be foretold in a powerful end-of-the-world narrative.

Between its creation and destruction, humanity needs to do something – and that something frequently includes being rather afraid of some natural disaster or another. As someone who’s been known to chalk up everything from bad traffic to garden pests to an angry god, I have a special appreciation for myths that explain life’s little frustrations as part of a nice, neat cosmic scheme.

Another fun category of myth is the trickster tale. From Puck to Coyote, tricksters have been delighting audiences for millenia with their ability to weasel their way out of any predicament. I like to write this kind of myth when I’m in the mood for creating something humorous and clever.

Regardless of what kind of myth inspires you the most, writing one can really help you grow as a storyteller. From pacing a narrative to using archetypal characters, you can practice a variety of storycrafting techniques when you write your own myth.