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Showing posts from March 5, 2009

Making Something Old Something Better

I run into a lot of conversations among authors about tropes, archetypes and cliches. "How can I write without using the cliches?" "Anyone who writes about Elves is stealing from Tolkien." "There's no way to write something new."

I usually end up in arguments about this. As a classical mythologist, I am convinced that archetypal themes and characters aren't the anathema so many writers think they are. Sure, you don't necessarily want to write abouta farmboy-turned-savior with a magical sword, an ancient mentor skilled in the ways of magic and the stock secondary characters of the D & D world. However, that doesn't mean you have to avoid them either. The hero's journey, as identified by Joseph Campbell, is a route that all good adventures follow. There is a certain path a writer must follow in order to create a hero. And while you don't have to hit every earmark that Campbell identified, you need to hit at least some of th…