Someone new to writing asked on Quora the other day what the rules are for using mythology in fantasy fiction. Here's what I told him.
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Good question. When it comes to writing fantasy and using mythology within your novel, you need to pay attention to the three Cardinal Rules of Inclusion. They are, in strict numerological order:1. Write correctly (grammatically); 2.Write effectively (phrasiologically); 3.Create the best damned, riveting, can't-put-it-down book you can possibly write (storyologically).
That's it. Also sometimes known familiarly as The Holy Trinity, those are the only rules you have to follow in writing fantasy while employing mythology as a literary tool. Wait a minute! On second thought, those are the only rules you have to follow in writing any fiction—period!
See, fiction is fiction because it's not nonfiction, poetry, or an aardvark. It's made up. It may be based upon a true story or true incidents, but it's still primarily manufactured in the writer's mind. That's what makes it so enjoyable. Both to write and to read. If it had a bunch of stodgy old rules bloating it, it would no longer belong to the writer but, rather, to a board of semi-retired, semi-cognizant rule-making academicians sitting around a big walnut table somewhere, deciding on what the writer can and can't do. If that were the case, we would never have been blessed with one thousandth of the great works of art that have graced our tables over the eons.
Fiction writing is fun because we novelists get to play make believe--even if only for a short while. It takes us back to our happy, carefree childhood days when around every corner lay a new imaginary event ready to explode. Every piece of writing is different because every writer is different. And it's those very differences that create the uniqueness in voice, presentation, storyline, and other literary goodies that we all rejoice in reading.
So, write correctly; write effectively, and create a riveting story, and leave the rest up to the fates. Or, in your case, the ewoks and morlocks. And, in the meantime ...
Smoke if you've got 'em.
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D. J. Herda is author of the new series of writing advice, About Writing Right, available in eBook, paperback, and hardcover formats at Amazon and at fine booksellers everywhere. You can check out his columns, "The Author-Ethicist" and "Fury and the Beast" at Substack.