The Use of Myth and Legend in Fantasy

Saturday evening at 8:30PM in the Embassy meeting room of the Hyatt, D.L. Wainright, Mari Mancusi, Todd McCaffrey, and moderator Venessa Guinta discussed the use of mythology and legend in fantasy writing. The discussion started with why some authors choose to use myth or legend in their writing. The first point that was brought up was the Greek plays. As a type of fan fiction, they are the ultimate demonstration of the use of mythology. Today, the use of myth and legend is an opportunity to put a new spin on an identifiable subject and is a form of shorthand for subjects that may be hard to grasp. The panel mentioned the Rick Riordan series, Percy Jackson, as a strong example of the use of the Greek myths.

The following point the panel discussed was rule breaking. When using mythology and legend, an author must be careful not to disrespect the subject material. Living beliefs are especially touchy, and it must be remembered that there are people who really do believe. Misappropriation of beliefs must be avoided. It was suggested to speak with those who are believers to get the right spin. The panel stressed that writers should not let a fear of misappropriation hold them back from writing the story. There are professionals and experts like professors who can help you. On the production side, editors are beginning to include sensitivity readers to lessen potential issues.

New myths and legends are being created and built daily. Through the use of the internet, 20th and 21st century legends, which are typically viewed as urban legends, are still building. Using a lesser known myth or legend is a good way to build up your story. The more obscure the myth or legend, the more you can play with it. Because mythology started as an oral tradition, there will be contradictions. This can be used to your advantage. It is okay to cherry pick aspects of a myth; it is your universe after all.

Author of the article

Colleen Callahan is a freelance content writer and social media consultant specializing in food and beverage, writing blog posts, newsletters, and managing social media accounts. She recently sold her house and most of her possessions and moved into an RV with her two doggos. They live the full-time nomad life, traveling the US and chasing 70 degrees. Starting with A Wrinkle In Time and never looking back, Colleen is a huge fan of science fiction, fantasy, and the supernatural. Favorite time burners are anything by Joss Whedon, the entire Outlander universe, the occasional Neil Gaiman rant, and as many geeky TV shows as she can lay her eyes on. Recently, Colleen has decided to go back to her first love - writing. Since the third grade, creating neighborhood newsletters with a typewriter and copying them with a mimeograph machine (remember those?), the writing flame has been kept alive through short stints in industry magazines, copywriting for marketing projects, and writing on her blog, Volunteering for the Daily Dragon was the first stepping stone in a journey towards her Destiny. Colleen can also be seen on her YouTube channel, Sunrise 2 Sunset RV.