Tag Archives: storytelling

The Difference Between Myths, Legends, and Fairy Tales

Myths, legends, fairy tales—we know them well, the stories we pass down from generation to generation. Add in folktales and fables, and you have yourself a plethora of names for the sort of stories people often lump under the same category.

Yet each of these represents a story with its own distinct characteristics. The terms are not interchangeable.

Editors and readers have certain expectations associated with different genres, and you’ll want to play into those.

Myths

Myths explain the reasons why things have come to be—why our world looks and feels and works the way it does. Think creation myths. These provide a worldview, telling the reader how it is that a certain practice, belief, or natural event came about. How the world itself came about.

Gods and goddesses, in all their various shapes and traditions and cultures, fall under this category. We are living in the mud on Big Turtle’s back. The Fates are spinning their thread, doling out misery and suffering. He said “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Myths are old, ancient things, generally speaking.

They inspire legends.

12 Literary-Based Dramas on Netflix

As a modern day writer, I have a love/hate relationship with Netflix. On the one hand, movies are another form of storytelling. In fact, many movies are based on their own literary counterparts, and as such, watching movies is a bit like studying—if you’re a writer. Or so I tell myself.

Especially if you want your book to be adapted for the big-screen, a goal that is elusive but often sought after.

I once told a friend that this is the ultimate achievement for some writers—a film adaptation—which they told me was the sign of a sell-out. But I disagree. Whether you’re in it for the money (because, who are we kidding, writers deserve some, and an adaptation just might be the only way to it for some) or the ride, film adaptations are exciting. Of course, there’s the lights, cameras, and action, but there’s also the thrill of seeing a world you made up out of thin air being acted out right before you.

On the other hand, watching movies takes away from time spent writing. In other words, it’s distracting.

So writers, if you’re going to binge, help yourself feel less guilty by taking notes. What do these films do well? Read the stories. How do the adaptations differ? And then reflect on how to improve your own stories.

Below are twelve dramas currently on Netflix based on books, short stories, or novellas:

Adore

Based on the novella The Grandmothers by Doris Lessing

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Defiance

Based on the book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans by Nechama Tec

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Cold Mountain

Based on the book Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

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Devil’s Knot

Based on the book Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three by Mara Leberitt

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The Firm

Based on the book The Firm by John Grisham

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Keith

Based on the short story “Keith” in The Hotel Eden by Ron Carlson

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Joseph Campbell Meets The Hobbits

Joseph Campbell was a prolific comparative mythology writer and lecturer of the twentieth century. Some of his works include The Hero with a Thousand Faces, The Masks of God, Historical Atlas of World Mythology, and The Power of Myth.

What I’m going to focus on in this article is often referred to as The Hero’s Journey and it comes from Campbell’s first venture into writing, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The book, in essence, looks at the underlying structure of myth that has been pervasive in cultures around the world for thousands of years. In his studies, he found parallel structure and breaks the hero’s journey down into steps that the hero takes and the options he has along the way.

Here’s a simple representation of the Hero’s Journey

What is surprising is how many of our modern day literary and movie heroes follow much of the same structure. Take, for example, Bilbo and Frodo from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien. These two heroes follow much of the hero’s journey Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces laid out.

Prewriting Characters

Alas, my friends, I’m here to admit that I was wrong (gasp!), which is probably something my boyfriend would be shocked to hear me say—so let’s not tell him. Last November, all of the contributors at The Poetics Project decided to join together in a pact to complete our own NaNoWriMo projects. We failed, miserably, but along the way we wrote about our failure and our writing processes. I wrote this little gem about how I hated the idea of outlining an entire novel. It’s much better to dive right into the unknown, right? Wrong.

You see, I didn’t actually say I didn’t see the need for an outline. Instead, I said that I prefer to write a shitty rough draft before wasting my time with one. After all, the stories that form in our minds as we excitedly conjure them up at the most inconvenient times—in the shower, in the car, or, you know, in the throes of passion (yep, that is how you spell throes)—are not entirely formed. And diving, as it were, is not a horrible idea. A little free writing can help spark connections in your developing plot and help you feel out the direction you want to take things in.

What I was wrong about, however, was the value of prewriting.

That Place Where Abandoned Writing Projects Live

Long ago, in a far away galaxy, Amanda Riggle wrote a short post on where abandoned writing projects go, and I liked it so much that I wanted to share it again with our readers today. I, as well as Amanda, believe that you should never toss out any writing projects, no matter how small and no matter how hopeless they may seem. I have folders hidden away on my computer that sometimes, years later, I return to. Some of these weren’t as horrible as I originally thought, and I have turned them into longer pieces, while others—still horrible—had something about them that stuck with me. I used them as jumping off points for other pieces entirely.

Here’s what Amanda had to say about abandoned writing projects:

When my little sister was younger, she watched a TV show called ChalkZone. It was about the land where erased chalk drawings go once they are cleared from the board. It was a creative and cute show, and I’ve always imagined what it would be like if there were a land where abandoned writing projects went.

There would be less chalk, that’s for sure.

I’d like to imagine there’s a world out there where unbelievable plots fight with each other, bad puns run amok, cliche rhymes can roam free, and confused similes and metaphors ruled the land.

This land would be beautiful. I want to go there.

But, in all seriousness, what do people do with their abandoned writing projects?

Twitter: Storytelling in the Digital Age

(Credit: publishingperspectives.com)
(Credit: publishingperspectives.com)

From March 12-16, 2014, Twitter will host this year’s Twitter Fiction Festival, partnered with The Association of American Publishers and Penguin Random House. Participants have until February 5 to submit their fiction idea to Twitter in order to be a featured storyteller.

A panel of judges will select the featured storytellers. A wide range of publishing professionals are on the panel, including Sarah Bowlin, senior editor at Henry Holt, and Diana Gill, executive editor at William Morrow.

So why participate in a something like Twitter Fiction Festival? A lot of people in the publishing industry use Twitter. Just browsing through the list of judges, it’s evident that participating could bring attention to your writing, which is never a bad thing if you hope to be published one day. Never doubt the power of social media.