My EPIC FABLES on the ELASTIC LIMIT of TIME utilize MYTH, the set rules of storytelling, and mostly I adhere to the system described at length by the late Joseph Campbell, who gleaned his basic points from various sources that came before him.
According to the predominant theory, MYTH as a literary tool is all-powerful because it’s an unconscious connection, or can be, that is.
Given this hidden aspect, MYTH moves one in unseen ways and this fact is most satisfying in literature, for it can be exploited to astonishing effect, slapping you in the face as it were, or coming from left field, especially if you play the established formula counter to form, which is what I do in all of my TIME TRAVELING books.
The conventional rules of MYTH are now well recognized but no egghead in some Ivory Tower dictated them, rather they were slowly honed through vast durations of TIME spent crafting the Art of Lore.
After all, spoken language predates written by some five millennia and that massive span of centuries engendered more than enough repetition and trial and error to fully perceive what techniques are most efficient in terms of gripping and engaging, effective storytelling.
That’s why when written language did emerge the rules were already set, and Homer, for example (who in reality may have been several different people), is preeminent not because he invented the craft of storytelling, but because he had learned these time tested lessons well and employed them very early on to great effect, at least in Western Literature.
Indeed, all good storytellers use MYTH whether they realize it or not, for if it’s an alluring tale the MYTH is always present, and that's why it can affect you as it does, in ways that you may not understand nor be comfortable with, etc.
Ever experienced a movie, play or TV show with great production values, suitable acting and direction yet the effort was just not satisfying, for you felt it was somehow lacking?
Chances are the MYTH therein was ill used, perhaps the stereotypes mismatched or not resolved properly, and often the numbers involved are off, a huge but basic mistake.
Numbers are VERY important in MYTH, again an unconscious commodity that can be manipulated ad infinitum, and as a literary device is only self-limited for an author.
I’ll discuss what I call the ‘magic numbers’ of MYTH at length in a later discourse, but for now I’ll stick to the fundamentals:
MYTH, being unconscious relates the back-story, and this practice relieves the author from the burden of doing so, which tends, I believe, to bog things down, or can, at least.
In my opinion, as a writer you can’t flow if you’re stuck in minutia, and given I construct TIME TRAVELING page-turning adventures, I prefer instead to engage the awesome power inherent in MYTH, thus alleviating this normally abundant technical problem altogether.
As well, MYTH is universal and so can be applied universally:
Everyone has been unlucky in love, hated the job or felt to be at the end of their rope, but most have also had hope, joy at times and occasionally at least, a sense of purpose or duty; these are basic human situations innately understood by all.
To actuate the formula, there are many set ‘types’ in MYTH, prototypes or so-called archetypes, stereotypical figures that everyone can easily recognize, and so their basic motivations are already comprehensively established by the nature of who they are.
These can be such universally recognizable characters as the hero or villain, the innocent victim, the wise one who helps (and this could just be knowledge or magic gleaned along the way), the comic or trickster, the sidekick or warrior, etc.
Likewise, to be effective as Literature, any unfolding action (the quest or journey, overcoming some obstacle, any comedy or tragedy involved) must also follow the set dictates of MYTH, and again I’ll deal with these various aspects on another occasion.
The point is that successfully engaging MYTH inherently enhances the plot instead of impeding it, ensuring an appealing and satisfying tale, and this enriching protocol is always generously applied to all of my EPIC FABLES on the ELASTIC LIMIT of TIME.
The man, the mystery, the time traveler, and epic fable author