Many people feel intimidated about writing about Greek myths. In general, people are scared to write about Greek myths, and it’s all because of classics in general, particularly in mythology anyway. But classics have a huge elitism problem. Writing Greek myths should not be one thing that looks what I’m wearing today.
Many authors are afraid to write about Greek myth because they don’t know the myth well enough or are scared of getting something wrong. That’s the whole point of Greek myth. There is no origin myth for any Greek myth out there. Every myth retelling that we have access to today is a reception of another retelling. The original Greek myths don’t exist anymore. Whoever first formulated the first Greek myths did so through oration, and it isn’t documented.
Every documentation of a Greek myth is someone’s interpretation of that myth, not necessarily. The myth that Euripides originally told is that retelling of a certain myth will be very different from Aristophanes’s retelling of a myth, etc. Everyone rewrote the Greek myth according to their interests, political or personal agenda when retelling the myth, etc.
There is no such thing as the original Greek myth. Disney’s Hercules is a wonderful example of that, and I love the film for it. They got the characters and gist, and they completely played around with it. Also, they made it fit a particular modern audience. It’s an entirely different world, and that’s what makes it so wonderful, and it doesn’t make it an incorrect myth in any way.
How to write your own Greek myth? (Create a Greek myth story)
Every single myth is a retelling of another myth. We feel scared to approach the myths for fear of getting them wrong. Whether Robert Graves, Stephen Fry, or Charlotte Higgins, every anthology that you can read will tell the myths from a particular angle. They may follow the same formulation, but they may retell myths differently.
Stephen Fry’s Recollection is how Madea ends up killing her children. It’s very different from Higgins’s, who claims that Madea didn’t kill her children because she took a different route. While Dickinson’s version is replicated in other retellings of the myth by other ancient writers, Higgins could’ve done something entirely different. That’s the beauty of Greek myth.
There’s such a toxic misconception that one has to abide by how a myth is originally proposed, particularly when each oration has been twisted somehow. If you want to write your own Greek myth, follow these steps.
1. Set plot
It’s fun to see different cultures and plots have various myths. So you learn a lot about the cultures as you do that. But let’s say you’re going to write one now. So you can begin by picking a part of nature that you want to explain through a myth.
- You might say how to explain the existence of Athens or anything you care to choose. You should know a bit of it anyway.
So you might want to research a little bit first and then think about what this part of nature represents. What do you associate with it? For example, We think about politics, culture, religion, and people. So those are some things that you could use as an element of a story.
2. Pick a main God/Goddess/Prompts
Another way to start a story is to think about the gods wanting to reward or punish a human being. So, in this case, there are two situations.
- If we say the reward is part of it, how can we fit that? Maybe they have cold hearts!
- If we say the punishment is part of it, how can we fit that? Send them to a very hot place!
So that’s only an example of coming up with a metaphor, being creative about the elements that relate to the thing you’re trying to explain, and making a story of it. Think about what are some metaphors for the literal things that are happening. Then construct a story with a beginning, middle, and end involving some of these supernatural elements.
3. Think about the modern context
Retelling an ancient life with your unique spin. There are two main ways you can do this. First of all, think of the modern context. Try to reimagine these ancient myths using a modern situation. These myths may have been created during ancient times and by all civilizations. But why not introduce elements of the modern world in your own retelling?
This will make modern readers of the 21st century very interested to read about these ancient tales from centuries ago. For example, in reviving the Percy Jackson series, he relocates them to New York City instead of making the Olympian gods lived in ancient Greece. Here, they reside at the top of the Empire State Building. The gods also engage with popular culture and trends that we are familiar with. You can imagine the divine characters chilling out at Starbucks or overeating at McDonald’s.
4. Make your characters more relatable
Besides modernizing the main characters from ancient myths, why not make them likable? Most ancient myths portray these divine beings as terrifying and harsh rulers. This is likely because they serve to teach people about morals and virtues.
- In your retelling, why not make these gods and goddesses who are conventionally portrayed as terrifying much more relatable?
Take Poseidon in original Greek mythology, for example. He seeks out extreme punishments for anyone who he feels has wronged him. Poseidon was also famed for sending out terrible earthquakes and storms as punishment. That was probably what Rick Riordan thought when he decided to make Poseidon and his other godly brother and sisters more relatable in the Percy Jackson series.
- Introduce a relatable trait that you want your God or goddess to have.
You can consider some common traits or behaviors that you see around you every day. Imagine how amusing it would be if Hades, the God of the dead, were addicted to kicking talk. Or if Aphrodite, the Goddess of love and beauty, was obsessed over a K-Pop boy band.
5. Feel free to write
Before writing your own Greek myth, keep in mind that there is no law when it comes to mythology. If that’s something you want to write about, you should feel the freedom to write about that. Regardless of external judgments of the authenticity of a myth that doesn’t exist, there’s no historical accuracy to a myth. To play around with myths is what people did in ancient times.
- If you want to play with it within your realm and drag characters together that didn’t exist in any ancient text, then good on you.
- You should do what you want to do with the characters at your disposal.
We’re going on a different path where we’re playing with fictional characters, and you can make the world any such way about you.
6. Edit as your wish
You can’t get copyright stricken for sharing the original myth. Also, you can’t get a copyright claim against the original creator for messing up with their worlds and dragging them all in together. It’s because they’re all dead, and they have no authority over them anyway. People feel freer around fairy tales and play around with fairy tales.
- You can twist them, change them completely, decontextualize them, and they don’t get into trouble for it.
Unlike classicism, there isn’t an elitist structure around fairy tales. People know that fairy tales are retellings and allegories for other things.
7. Retell the story with imagination
With ancient mythology, particularly Greco-Roman mythology, there is this misconception that they are set in stone. Greek mythology is as fair game as any fairy tale is.
- If you would retell Cinderella in a modern context if you were to gender-bend any other fairy tale, feel free to do the same with Greek mythology.
There is no authority, and anyone who tells you otherwise is an elitist snob. We shouldn’t be catering to elitist snobs if they don’t like it. That’s not your audience. We’re writing for a particular audience at the end of the day.
The audience that reads your work will enjoy it regardless, and I will always enjoy it because I’ve been reading everyone’s Greek myth retellings. After all, that’s my role in doing it. I want to encourage people to mess around with them like rotten because that’s what we’re meant to do. That is breaking your comfort zone.
8. Focus on is flavor
Please think of the creation myths that we have in our world. Adam and Eve are in Judeo-Christian mythology, the Rig Veda in Hindu mythology, or the beginning of Norse mythology. How fantastical or mundane your world is will depend on whether your creation myth is true or not true. However, regardless of whether it’s true or not, what it should do is seek to explain the values of its people.
First, the man in the story is the one that’s created first. He’s the one with the most authority, and he’s the one who behaves the most correctly. The man in the story, Adam, is the one that’s created first. He has the most authority, and he behaves the most properly.
Think about this for your creation myth. What values are essential to the people? Those values are likely to appear in the myths, including the creation myth. So make a list of those possible values.
9. Pick something you don’t know
Go with your inspiration, go with your gut, and play with it. There is no law to abide by, and anyone who says otherwise is a pretentious, elitist snob.
- Let it be challenged, make it queer, make it feminist and masculine.
Do whatever you want with it. That’s the beauty of the malleable nature of fiction. When we’re confronting insecurities about writing, that’s what we should be playing with.
10. Recreate your own version
If you can retell stories in an interesting, fascinating way with the characters at your disposal, you don’t have to know them off by heart. You don’t need to know every single version of every retelling of that myth.
- To recreate your own version of that myth, you need to know the general structure.
For example, What was Medusa-like? What was she about?
Even then, we don’t know what she was like. No one knows what her personality is. Go with it if you want to write a Medusa retelling with her as the main character from Legally Blonde.
The common theme in the Greek myth is the emergence from depths, and there is less to do with a particular creator. You will want to model once you know what type of creation myth. Go and find creation myths of that type and read them. It is your inspiration.
Read those myths and think about what they mean for the context of the culture that created them. This is how you’ll get your mind in the proper framework to write your world’s creation of Greek myth.
Learn more about writing myth: 10 Tips To Write A Myth Without Any Study
Get Myth Ideas From These Books:
15 Books About Greek Mythology For Beginner Readers
15 Greek Mythology Retelling Novels
5 Greek Hero Books On Achilles
5 Greek Goddess Books About Medusa
3 Books On Hercules Retellings
5 Historical Fiction Books On Atlantis
5 Homer Retelling Novels About Helen Of Troy
5 Olympian Warriors Novels On Poseidon
Top 3 Greek Goddess Novels On Aphrodite
3 Greek Myth Novels On Dionysos
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