Myths surround us even if a lot of the time we’re not aware of them. They inform our culture in manifest and latent ways. Get to know some of these ways by writing into existing myths and doing your own myth-making in these experiments.
1. Twist a common trope from a popular myth. Maybe Persephone wanted to be with Hades. Maybe the beast in the labyrinth wasn’t a minotaur but a mosquito.
2. Tell a destruction myth that ends an existing creation myth; try, for example, to reverse the Garden of Eden. Or make up your own creation myth à la Mathias Svalina’s “Creation Myth.”
3. Tell a myth from the point of view of a minor character, such as the wolf that raised Romulus and Remus. Or insert a new character into an existing myth, like Muriel Rukeyer does in “Waiting for Icarus.” Or have one mythic character directly address another as in Joseph Brodsky’s “Odysseus to Telemachus.”
4. Combine two myths from different times or cultures; for example, the West African trickster Anansi meets the Hawaiian lava goddess Pele.
5. Update a myth to a more modern era, say, 1776 or 2020, as in Jericho Brown’s “Ganymede.”
6. Take a debunked myth or urban legend—like the idea that Napoleon Bonaparte was very short—and tell it as if it were true. For a pair of comic examples, read Ron Carlson’s short stories “Bigfoot Stole My Wife” and “I Am Bigfoot.”
7. Tell a story or describe an event from the point of view of a being that has never lived on Earth, like the angel in “The Hastily Assembled Angel Falls at the Beginning of the World” by Shane McCrae, or the martian in “A Martian Sends a Postcard Home” by Craig Raine.