Saturday, January 20, 2007

Myths and Other Truths



Some fiction is absolutely realistic. It shows the world as it is, shows people, precisely as they are. Ernest Hemingway wanted to write this kind of fiction, and I admire and enjoy his work. I think he often succeeded. But I’m not the same kind of writer. I prefer to write, and usually to read, fiction that taps into myth more than realism. Robert E. Howard wrote myth. The late David Gemmell wrote it. I don’t think that either approach is better than the other. I believe that both of them can reveal truth. Myths just reveal a hidden truth, a truth closer to our inner core.

Despite the fact that fiction is built literally out of lies, truth is its ultimate goal. If you achieve that, you will be read.

14 comments:

Sidney said...

I tend to agree and it's true, myth, metaphor and story can often speak truth that sentences alone cannot.

Susan Miller said...

I do agree with this, also. My son who is a fantasy writer argues with me when I make the statement that it is all "real". Most likely because he'd rather me not know that when reading his work.

I admire writers that can creatively wrap truth into it's many fantastic shapes and sizes.

Clifford said...

The best fantastical fiction also has the power to make us look at stuff we don't care to discuss by projecting it on another species or being.

Erik Donald France said...

I agree completely. Genre/form is secondary and often myth draws on deeper, more universal truths (as they say). To me, it doesn't even matter if it's a movie, a book, a poem, a story, a song or anything else, as long as it strikes home.

Danny Tagalog said...

Yes, this is so true. It is a most powerful medium. Clifford's summed it up.

Heather said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
H.E.Eigler said...

Have you read any Neil Gaiman?

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

That's my big problem, Charles. I am mired in the reality of Chicago. I want to write a pirate story, or something set in th Mayan era or even the far future where my real Chicago is a myth. But every word I write is nearly verbatim to my life. You make a good point in your entry, pal.

Stewart Sternberg said...

In the last few years I have become keenly aware of mythic elements and tropes in my writing and in the writing of others. In one novel I wrote, when it was through, I went back over it looking for whether or not the main character followed Campbell's Hero's Journey.

First, I try and write a good story. Then, I go back and try and see what thematic elements may have been at play that I might have missed and how I can tweak that story to those elements.

Charles Gramlich said...

H. E., I've read "American Gods," which I found interesting for its ideas but not a particularly compelling read. Susan, thanks for posting. Wayne, your realism kicks ass, as I commented in my intro to your collection. Cliff, Sid, Erik, Danny, glad you found something of interest in the post. I think we're all in agreement.

Charles Gramlich said...

LOL, and thanks Stewart, who was posting at the same time I was, apparently. Good thoughtful comment.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Not to deviate from the topic, but that wood sculpture looks very realistic.

Charles Gramlich said...

the dragon is actually metal, JR. Some kind of copper alloy. The stand is wood, treated. We got this at the Renaissance Festival and the woman who had done it had some incredible work there. This was our house gift to ourselves this Christmas

Susan Miller said...

Go Saints.