Hickman Duo Explores Myth

. . . the very dreams that blister sleep . . .”

Tracy Hickman and Laura Curtis Hickman awed a packed Writers’ Track session Friday afternoon with their “Mythics Fundamentals Workshop.” The Hickmans compressed a week-long seminar into an energetic two and a half hours. The workshop covered story mechanics and world-building in the context of myth as defined by Joseph Campbell. (Campbell’s seminal work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, discussed by the Hickmans, is the source of the quote beginning this article.)

Tracy explained that “Mythology is hard-wired into everyone on the planet” and affects how we relate to each other. “Story is how we communicate,” said Tracy. The “Campbell Cycle,” tracking the journey of the mythic hero, is the foundation of science fiction and fantasy, according to Tracy and is our “alpha” or “founding” story. “When you use this, you communicate to everyone [in a way that is] innately recognized by humanity,” Tracy concluded.

Laura and Tracy graphically illustrated the eight archetypes of story by drawing volunteers from the audience. Using the original Star Wars story (Episode IV), the Hickmans and the volunteers demonstrated the key roles played by each character, including the “Evil Empire” as antagonist, in the mythic dance that creates stories. The concepts were detailed in greater complexity via examples from classic literature, drama (To Kill a Mockingbird, Hamlet), juvenile fantasy (The Wizard of Oz) and film (Cast Away).

The Hickmans also offered practical advice for writers, including using digital programs as a tool in creating characters and building worlds. Their new release, the co-authored fantasy novel Mystic Warrior, is an example of a comprehensive and detailed world created using these techniques. Available in both hard cover and as an eBook from Warner Aspect Books, Mystic Warrior is for sale in the exhibition hall.

Author of the article

Amy L. Herring (Louise Herring-Jones) writes speculative fiction, with a preference for historical fantasy and alternate mystery. Her stories, appearing in fourteen anthologies, include “The Poulterer’s Tale” in God Bless Us, Every One—Christmas Carols beyond Dickens (Voodoo Rumors Media, 2019). Amy is a NaNoWriMo co-municipal liaison. She also coordinates the Huntsville (Alabama) Literary Association’s writers’ group. Visit her online at http://www.louiseherring-jones.com.