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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mythology and Folklore (ConCarolinas Writing Panel)

The pages in my journal stuck together; that's why I didn't notice this set of notes until just before posting the last set. But here we are, with the final panel I attended. If you have any questions, please ask and I will elaborate. These were, after all, my own attempted transcription of what was said.

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Mythology and Folklore

Authors: Stuart Jaffe, Jana Oliver, Natania Barron, Gail Z. Martin, Kalayna Price, Wendy S. Delmater
Moderator: Mason Lavin

Creating a mythology:
- Draw from another culture
- Study old cultures
- Trace myths back to their roots
- Don't just mine it halfhazardly for stories - know the myths
- It helps to absorb and process a lot of old myths.
- Look at how each culture views evil as a concept, how it is real to them.
- Read extensively.
- The reason myths have been able to last for so long is that something in them resonates with people.
- Be respectful to the original myth.

Things not to mess with:
- Nothing? We can take things and make it our own.
- Remember that myths stem from religion, and be respectful of that.
- It is possible to reinvent with respect.
- Our job as writers is to lie for a living.
- Do it well, and the readers won't care; do it poorly and they might care a *lot*.

Remember, it's fiction:
- Things can be changed in popular myth. Example: Vampires weren't originally allergic to sunlight.
- Tropes can be bent; just don't break it.
(Trope: an accepted standard in a genre/subgenre - usually what's listed on the back of a novel is mostly tropes, because readers can understand the story's subject matter quickly).
- Can take tropes and put them in a different setting, but it might be difficult.
- Myths can be used at the structural level.

Even Christianity is a Myth:
- The mythology is so complex and has many different traditions.
- Have to consider it all.
- The Church has evolved and changed, too, along with its myths and traditions; this goes back to its historical roots.
- Words change over time.
- The original Christian myth was not written in English.

Borrowing vs. cultural appropriation:
- Use care
- Research what you're borrowing
- Do it *well*.
- If using something real, get it right.
- Be respectful.

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So, that's it for my ConCarolinas 2011 notes. I hope you've enjoyed them. Now the year is winding toward two other big events for me: Penny Arcade Expo at the end of August, and the Surrey International Writer's Conference. I have a few notes from SiWC that I wouldn't mind sharing, and I'll probably have a thing or two to say about PAX, too.

Watch this space for a post about swordfighting, too. ;)

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to this Saturday! I've been asked to give a talk on the basics of writing. This will be my first - wish me luck!

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