Making the Old New Again by Rebekah R. Ganiere
We are told that there are twenty plots in the world. Or maybe it’s thirteen. Or perhaps only seven, who knows? But one thing is for sure, there aren’t really any new plots. All plots have been used before. Sorry to burst your bubble but it’s true. However, the stories that accompany the plots that are new. There are millions of stories out there all using the same twenty plots, but look how different they all are! And some of the best “new” stories come from stories already told and twisted in new way.
How many times has Romeo and Juliette been redone? Or Hamlet? What about Hercules? Or Loki? Or Snow White? Or any other number of myths, fairytales, legends and more. The object is to make them new. To take an old story/myth and twist it and make it your own.
Mythology is one of the best places to find ideas. Whether you use them in a contemporary or paranormal novel, mythology has stood the test of time and can be used to create new characters and new adventures.
Mythology comes from all over the world. There are Chinese myths, Aztec myths, Norse, African, you name it. And there are resources all over the internet and in the library that can help you get ideas. For instance if you look up banshees there are dozens of ideas you could work from. Fae and fairies have hundreds of different origins and stories. All Greek gods have Roman counterparts as well as a lot of Egyptian counterparts. The wonderful thing about myths and using mythology to write stories is that you don’t have to recreate the wheel.
One of the things that us D&D and RPG players can appreciate is pre-built characters. When you have a pre-built character made by someone else or a game designer, it saves you a lot of time. You can pick a base and grow from it. Does that mean everyone’s characters are exactly the same if they pick the same base? No way! The characters are what you make them. The attributes you give them. The strengths and weaknesses you build into them. It’s the same thing with using mythology in your writing.
You don’t have to create creatures from scratch, or plots. You can find whatever you need and plug it in and build your world around it to make it what you want it to be.
Take for instance my Fairelle series. It’s a series of Fairytale Romances. I currently have out four books in the series. I went through the fairytale I wanted to build off of and picked the elements I felt were needed in the stories to tie them to the original fairytale while still making them completely new and different. You can do the same thing.
Do you have a favorite fairytale? Say, Beauty and the Beast (That’s mine). What if you made it modern? You twisted it so the hero is a guy who was horribly disfigured in an accident. The girl comes to work for him as an assistant, but she’s blind. She doesn’t see his face. All she sees is what’s inside him. That’s a new twist on Beauty and the Beast where she falls in love with the inner him, not the outer him. (Okay you can’t have that idea, it’s mine.)
Mythology isn’t dead. It’s used in so many stories and you can’t even tell most times. How many movies have you seen in the past five years that are retellings? A lot!
So when you try to use mythology or fables or fairytales in your work, find several different versions, then look for items that will make it new and fresh. Find the things that make the myth special or stand out and use those to help your readers identify with the story. One of the best ways to market a book is by saying it’s a retelling of an old myth or story. Just make sure that whatever you use as your source material isn’t copyrighted by someone else. That’s a no-no.
So what’s your favorite myth, fable or fairytale?
Rebekah R. Ganiere is an Award Winning Bestselling Author. Her debut novel Dead Awakenings, hit the bestseller list the first day, in January 2014. Her Fairelle Series, released in May 2014 and has won several awards including the Golden Palm and a finalist for Rone Award. Her trilogy The Society was released by Kensington in 2014 and her new series Shifter Rising is releasing in 2016 from Samhain Press.
Rebekah is currently working on six series in the Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Sci-fi genres. She has three more books slated to release this year and another five for next year.
Rebekah is the VP of Communications of the Romance Writers of America Los Angeles Chapter as well as the Newsletter Editor of the Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal Chapter. In her spare time when she isn’t writing you can find her moderating and teaching on SavvyAuthors.com or at RWA. Rebekah also cosplays with her kids and is a guest speaker and panelist at San Diego Comic Con and Salt Lake Comic Con and several other Comic Cons on the west coast as well as LTUE, Romantic Times Convention, and Authors After Dark.