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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Storyteller's Perspective: Something old, something new...

I like old stories. I think most of us do. During the month of April A to Z, I especially love finding blogs that choose themes like mythology (Greek, Norse, or anything else), folklore, or even ghosts. It always makes me happy to see that people still read, share, and cherish these tales.
Of course, I am a storyteller, so I might be biased.

Today I would like to share with you a game that I have been playing. It is useful for me, both as an author and as a storyteller, to know what the stories that are the most popular these days (anything between Captain America and The Fault in Our Stars) are doing right. And I especially love to find old, old stories in new costumes, sometimes so masterfully re-done that it is a challenge worthy of Indiana Jones to recognize them.
(How many of you realized the Hunger Games is a version of the myth of Theseus?)

Here is how the game goes:

1. Pick a film, a TV show, or a game that is popular (and you have needed an excuse to watch or play)

2. Give it a chance. It might end up being boring or generally not your thing, but hey, gotta try it before you criticize it, right?

3. Make a list of things - characters, places, visual elements, plot points - that you especially liked. This can be anything from Merida's archery skills to Loki's mischief (There Shall Be No Storytelling Post Without Trickster References!)

4. Go scour the Internet for other people's opinions - what did the good people of the Web find especially awesome or memorable? (you can make a safe guess based on fan art, if everything else fails)

5. Now that you have a handy list, go on a quest: Try to find old stories that have the same things. Search in Google Books, or story collections, or even the very handy Thompson motif index for folktales. See what you can dig up. If you want to see a few examples, you can check on the StorySpotting blog.

The more you play, the easier it gets (and, also, you find more and more intriguing bits). It is not only fun to play with the idea of "nothing is ever new," but it can also provide tremendous help and inspiration: It teaches you about what values, characters and motifs remain popular over the ages and across cultures, and have the constant power to amaze and inspire modern readers and audiences.

Have fun!

As usual, you can find Csenge (@TarkabarkaHolgy) at
The Multicolored Diary - Adventures in Storytelling
MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarians...


Tina said...

What a great game! There's another blog I read (The Indie Writers Monthly - though they post almost every day...) where we were discussing that same idea you brought up about there being no new stories.
Tina @ Life is Good
On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!

MunirGhiasuddin said...

Sounds like a fun game. I might just try. Well as soon as I can.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tarka ... there are stories everywhere aren't there ... and it's just rearranging things to make another tapestry of life .. great idea for plotting out an idea ...

Cheers Hilary

J Lenni Dorner said...

Sounds like a fun game.
Also interesting is to study ancient myths and legends of tribes who never met, and see how much they have in common. For example- there are several cultures that believe creation began on the back of a giant turtle. Cultures which are separated by an ocean and huge land mass. Assuming that Continental Drift took place prior to the earliest humans, there's no logical way that these people could have met 5,000 years ago. And yet they share this same belief! Fascinating, in my opinion.