Writing True Fiction: The Continuing Influence of Myths and Archetypes

“Myths are things that never happened but always are.” —Sallustius, 4th century A.D.

Contemporary writers urge us to write stories bearing truths more real and illuminating than the realities we live through. The ancestors of these “true” stories are myths, sacred stories that establish models for behavior, or traditional stories that unfold a worldview or illustrate the methods or beliefs of a certain people. This workshop will study the frameworks of myth and archetype in both modern and ancient texts. In writing experiments, we will look at archetypes as familiar forms that must be filled in with conscious life, first models which other things are patterned after: father, mother, oracle, trickster, hero, temptress, villain, maiden. In other experiments, we’ll try rewriting certain traditional myths with our own skies, people, beliefs, and behaviors.

The course requires weekly readings to be done outside of class, along with weekly in-class discussion, writing, and sharing. Students should expect to generate at least three new story beginnings, and/or students may want to use class exercises and discussions to further develop works-in-progress.