Friday, April 18, 2014

How to Write a Greek Myth: Step-by-Step Guide

I love reading the mythology stories of the Romans and Ancient Greeks, but after a while, I start to see a pattern.

How to write a great Greek myth:

1. You need to chose one of the male gods in the Pantheon to start with. Hint: He needs to be a man’s god. A real horndog. However, for a nice twist, you could also choose one of the goddesses, though not a virgin one. If you choose a goddess, make sure she’s got something to offer the human (remember the story about Paris and his really bad decision?).

2. You need a pretty human – male or female, doesn’t matter. But, they must be more beautiful than average, if you decide to mess with the outward appearance, you better make it up with some REALLY awesome talent and moderately good looks. Royal bloodlines are best.

3. Now, add in some twist of fate. This is where things get exciting. A parent dies and leaves nothing to their child  except a horrifying curse. A child is thrown away in the trash and raised by an animal or the peasants. A plague befalls the entire kingdom. A god or goddess demands recompensence for some random wrong against them. An unclear, but doom-sounding, prophecy is read upon a birth. The sky’s the limit.

4. The twist of fate effects the human either directly or indirectly causing the human to seek the sanctuary or advice from their god or goddess of choice. Hilarity ensues: love at first sight, wrong deity, deity is having a bad week, deity off on vacation and leaves someone else in charge. A true case of “right place, wrong time.” A shakespearean comedy of errors.

5. The Meet. Deity and human. If you can work in one of them becoming an animal, so much the better. Especially if the animal in no way should be attractive or dangerous to a normal human being.

6. At this point, if you are going for a romantic myth, the god or goddess needs to fall in love and use their wiles to force the human into a compromising situation. Bonus points if the human and deity get busy in a temple or wherever the god’s domain is (i.e. If you are working with Poseidon, then in the sea; if Zeus, in the air; etc.). Double bonus points if conception occurs instantaneously.

7. If instead, you are going for a more traumatic myth, the human needs to insult or injure the god or goddess in some relatively minor way. Bonus points if the human did it unconsciously and spends the rest of the myth confused about why they are being punished.

8. The punishment. Whether this is a romantic or traumatic myth, there needs to be a punishment. Humans cannot interact with the gods and goddesses without punishment being a part of the action – kinda like a good strip club. This is where you get to have a lot of fun thinking of the worst ways to truly terrorize other humans.

9. Death occurs. Obviously not the god’s or goddesss’ but of course some human’s. It may or may not actually be the death of the main human – instead it could be all the rest of humankind. But, death must happen. And, it usually isn’t expected.

10. At last, the solution. Either a baby is born and acceptance is found or the human begs for forgiveness. The deities involve do not forgive or really even remember what happened previously in the story and just kind of move on with their immortal lives. For the human though, what has transpired has changed their lives, for the good for the worse, only you know. But, not only their lives, but the lives of all those around them.

Bonus points if you can work in a moral or reason for a natural occurrence throughout the myth.

Now, go out, good people, and share the word!

p.s. If you use this guide to write your own ancient myth, please share. Drop me a line. I'd love to read a few self-created myths. Oh, how cool! I can hardly wait!