Writing mythically with cliché is relatively easy: watch a couple of films, read a couple of books then regurgitate the obvious stuff: quasi-religious story world, the quest, the mentor, initiation, testing, the final battle, rebirth etc.
Writing mythically without cliché, by contrast, is not easy at all…
In the 3rd installment (after “Writing Characters That Fascinate” and “How to Create Intrigue”) in our ULTIMATE Screenwriting E-Book series, we interrogate the essence and fabric of mythic writing, along with its sometime bedfellow and the sworn foe of all writers and creators (with any integrity at least), cliche.
Read on for an exclusive excerpt or download the full, FREE, 40-page investigation by clicking one of the links below (note: requires email sign up and confirmation. Not received an email? Please check your junk mail folder and tweet us if it still hasn’t come through.)
Read on for an exclusive excerpt OR…
DOWNLOAD the full 40-page E-Book below…
“If any single weapon in the writer’s armoury can tend towards cliché, it’s a weapon that is itself based on writing something that has been written many times before, albeit in different guises. Myths by their very nature thrive on repetition, but that’s where the similarity ends. Myth gains its power from drawing on archetypes that themselves reflect a deep commonality. Cliché happens when one repeats thoughtlessly by rote – or deliberately, due to laziness or ignorance.
Myth feels like something we’ve experienced before, though we may not have personally experienced it ourselves. Cliché on the other hand is readily identifiable by the intellect as something we have directly experienced ourselves – and more times than we would like.
There are some core requirements to being able to write mythically without cliché: you need to study myth itself, along with the writings of those who have explored it. You need to become an archetype hunter – seeking-out mythic archetypes in everything you read, watch and experience. You need to understand when myth works and when it doesn’t.
The aim of this by-no-means-exhaustive guide is to explore a few key areas integral to writing mythically and provide tips for each of these areas. There are also 12 more general tips included in the book on writing mythically, which you can find at the end. What you won’t find below are any ‘Hero’s Journey’ film or character breakdowns; there are hundreds online and in any case it’s much better to do your own first and then to compare it with what you find.
So – first we need to establish:
What is myth?
At its core, myth is human experience and behaviour filtered through strata of culture (including, but not limited to religion) then retold. The more layers of filtration (whether within a self-contained culture over time, or through successive multiple cultures), the stronger the myth.
What myth isn’t: the analysis, interpretation or elucidation of human experience and behaviour that has been filtered through culture.
This is the most crucial thing to understand about writing mythically: although one can write mythically from a template, myths and their common elements and threads – the archetypes – are best absorbed, so that when they are literally re-written, they feel like they’ve been crafted by someone with no intellectual concept of ‘myth’ or ‘archetype’, but rather by someone who lives and breathes myth and archetype instinctively and writes from the gut.
This places anyone born after the Baby Boomer generation at a distinct disadvantage, because we can’t pretend that Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell and Chris Vogler never existed. Sometimes a brilliant mythic story arrives from a culture or from a filmmaker with either no exposure to, or zero interest in, the world of myth analysis and archetype identification.
But this is rare and most of you reading this – especially because of your proactive interest in the writer’s craft – will, at the very least, already be aware of the innate power of myth and the archetypes as can be applied to screenwriting.
An important aside: Robert McKee uses the word ‘archetype’ to mean the direct opposite of ‘stereotype’, which means by McKee’s rubric that a story must be inherently ‘archetypal’, but won’t always necessarily be mythic; in this guide, the word ‘archetype’ is used specifically in the Jungian sense, that is to say that archetypes are always mythic.
An experience can be universal – and McKee encourages writers to craft stories with universality – without a story based on that experience necessarily being mythic. Universality crosses boundaries of society and geography; myth crosses boundaries of culture and time.
END OF EXCERPT
To be continued…read on in the full PDF guide
In our FREE 40-page e-book you’ll learn:
- The 12 Key Work-Ons to Enhance your Mythic writing
- How to definitively avoid cliché
- How mythic writing is being used in the top shows and films of today
- The power of monotheism, paganism and polytheism
- The continued influence of The Hero’s Journey
- About the importance of interplay between free will and destiny
- How films including AVATAR, STAR WARS, BRAVEHEART and shows including GAME OF THRONES, BATTLESTAR GALATICA and more expertly harnass the power of myth, in original ways.