With NaNoWriMo coming up a lot of us might already be prepping for our novel. Jumping from one resource to another, building our character profiles, jotting ideas after ideas – it’s a chaotic process, isn’t it?
To help you on your journey, today I have a guest post from author of the Dragonslayer series, and the Dragonfly series, Resa Nelson. Because I love her latest book, Gate of Air, I asked her tips on writing mythology!
TOP 10 TIPS FOR WRITING MYTHOLOGY
I don’t know whether I can offer any tips, but I can talk about the things that work for me when I’m writing fantasy inspired by mythology based on other cultures. That said, here’s my list:
READ FAIRY TALES
Most of my fantasy novels are inspired by fairy tales, so that’s usually where I begin. The first series in my Dragon Cycle is inspired by the Norse/Viking era, so I read as many Scandinavian fairy tales as I could find, along with myths about European and Asian dragons. The second series is inspired by Native America, so I drew upon the many books I’d already read about Native American spirituality. The third series takes place in my fantasy version of the Far East, so my first step was to read all the Chinese fairy and folk tales that I could find. Many of them terrified me, and I drew upon those stories quite often while writing the Dragon Gods series.
TRAVEL, IF POSSIBLE
When possible, I travel in the mythology’s country of origin. It’s pretty much impossible to shed one’s own culture, but meeting local people, asking questions, and listening is a good beginning to getting a glimpse into their culture.
LOOK FOR DOCUMENTARIES
When I’m not able to travel, I opt for the next best thing: finding documentaries about the country I want to learn about. At the very least, this gives me an idea of the landscape and sometimes the people.
FIELD TRIPS TO MUSEUMS
I’m a huge fan of museums, and going to them is a critical part of my research. I get inspiration from art, textiles, and special exhibits that tell a story about the culture and mythology I’m studying.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY
When I wrote my first series, I did two very important things: (1) because the main character is a female blacksmith, I took a course in blacksmithing, and (2) I took courses to learn historically accurate techniques for using medieval weapons. I call this “physical research.” The weapons work was especially helpful, because I’ve drawn upon it for every fantasy book I’ve written.
INSPIRATION IS A GOOD THING
Instead of being literal with existing mythology, I like to use it as a springboard for creating my own fantasy world. I see mythology as a body of work that has already been written. It’s not my intention to replicate that mythology but to be inspired by it instead.
STEP OUTSIDE THE BOX
Each of us is enmeshed with our own culture. Whenever possible, I try to step outside of mine and make an attempt to understand others. One of the most important things I work with in the Dragon Gods series is my main character Frayka, who perceives herself as a Northlander but who looks like a Far Easterner. Throughout the series she struggles to understand the culture of her ancestors and then struggles again to understand how – and if – she can be part of both cultures.
READ HISTORY BOOKS
I think mythology and history are intertwined. Reading history books gives me more context and more to think about.
BE OPEN TO ALL RESOURCES
When I’m in the research phase – and even when I’m writing, I keep my eyes open for information everywhere. It can be a magazine article or an episode on the History Channel that ends up influencing my work.
Although I prefer turning to my personal library, local library, interlibrary loan, travel, DVDs, museums, and other physical resources, I don’t hesitate to turn to the internet and world wide web to help fill in the gaps.
Resa Nelson is the author of the 4-book Dragonslayer series: The Dragonslayer’s Sword (nominated for the Nebula Award, finalist for the EPPIE Award), The Iron Maiden , The Stone of Darkness , and The Dragon’s Egg . Her 4-book Dragonfly series takes place after the Dragonslayer series.
Her standalone novels include the mystery/thrillers All Of Us Were Sophie and Our Lady of the Absolute .
Resa has been selling short stories professionally since 1988. She is a longtime member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America), and she is a graduate of the Clarion SF Workshop. Resa was the TV/Movie Columnist for Realms of Fantasy magazine for 13 years as well as a regular contributor to SCI FI magazine. She has sold over 200 articles to magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Title: GATE OF AIR (Dragon Gods #1)
Author: Resa Nelson
Publication date: June 19th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Frayka must find and convince the dragon gods of the Far East to appease the gods of her Northland heritage. If she fails, her own Northlander gods will destroy all the mortals who once promised to worship them.
The Far East is a mysterious place of legend to Northlanders like Frayka. Only an old map can show her how to get there. Once she arrives, all of Frayka’s sensibilities put her in danger. And every dangerous turn delays her from finding the dragon gods whose help she so desperately needs.
Although Frayka looks like a Far Easterner, she is a powerful Northlander warrior who is quick to voice her thoughts. She is trained to fight and won’t hesitate to do so.
But everything about Frayka puts her in deadly peril in the Far East, where the laws are strict and the punishment cruel.
Especially when the one being punished is a woman.
You can purchase the book from Amazon for 99¢ for a limited time only!
Or you can join the giveaway for an eBook copy of Gate of Air!
The international giveaway ends on October 19th