We’re pleased that William accepted the invitation to post here, and excited about the fact that he enjoys discussing myths, because myths are one of our favorite conversation topics. -ed.
by William Hohmeister
Stories are comprised of many parts, and I don’t mean only the three-act structure. I like to think of a story as a body the writer creates out of whatever parts she can find. Sometimes the parts are hers, other times you have to steal them and hope no one notices a bit of freshly-turned earth in the graveyard.
The three-act structure, or whatever plot structure you follow, act as the bones. You need this before anything, because without it you have nowhere to hang anything. Characters are the muscles. Without them, nothing happens. The brain is the initial idea. Can we pretend the skin is a metaphor for something? Because otherwise, I left it out and that is a creepy image.
There is no blood in this body, though. Nothing to power the muscles or the brain. We have a dripping mass and a drooling dullard. Myth is the blood. Whether it’s ten thousand years of backstory that never makes it in to the actual story, or the week leading up to the main character’s decision that begins the narrative, myth is the blood that provides the ability for everything to get under way.
So you won’t think I’m basing this on nothing, let’s talk about the end of the world. Or the beginning. Same thing, isn’t it? If we’re into a real apocalypse, blood and hail and the sky tearing apart, in the end (or beginning), we have nothing. An empty dark space where something might be, or used to be. I can think of two stories that use this myth of “nothing” consuming creation:
In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2)
Or, in the beginning there was nothing, and god moved across the nothing. That is from the Bible, and I think it can be appreciated regardless of belief. The other example, I hope, is equally acceptable: The Neverending Story:
A myth is made up of several components as well: history, culture, and lies. Where history and culture do not provide an answer, lies have to suffice. To quote Stephen King (who quoted George Seferis), “The column of truth has a hole in it.” The hole is the question: “What was before/after the world?” The Nothing. God moves across it easily; Atreyu and Falcor flee it and hope for a place to land before the luck dragon tires. From a proto-myth both a creation myth and an apocalypse myth are made. Two different stories emerge.
This is why I love myths, and why I think they’re important enough to talk and write about, and I want to talk about them with you. Leave a comment below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve written here, if you have different ideas, or if you’d like to have a particular myth discussed.
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