From the world of Harry Potter to the Marvel cinematic universe, mythology is all around us. No wonder: these ancient tales encompass the whole range of human experience – stories of vengeful deities, epic tales of adventure, terrifying monsters, romance, and plenty of poignancy.
To draw upon this rich well of inspiration, learn about the stories and the characters, then put your own twist on it. Authors frequently use Greek or Roman myth as this is what Western readers would be most familiar with, but the world of mythology is vast. Look for inspiration within other ancient cultures, such as the Egyptians, Hattians, or Norse. You can even find ideas within a modern religion’s ancient mythology: Neon Genesis Evangelion is an example of an anime/manga series that uses a lot of Christian symbolism. To avoid cultural appropriation, it is probably best to steer away from drawing directly from closed religions, and sensitivity is a must if you wish to use ideas from a living religion or culture that is not your own.
There are a few ways you can incorporate mythology into your writing:
- create a retelling of a myth
- create characters inspired by deities or monsters
- use allusions: a subtle way to incorporate mythology into your story.
Using mythology in your writing is a great way to add realism and depth. They are a rich source of inspiration, just remember to be polite to living cultures that are not your own.