CraftWorld Building

Mythic Challenges Create Stories that Change the World by Pamela Jaye Smith

“I take courage,” Aeneas said. “Here too there are tears for things, and hearts are touched by the fate of all that is mortal.”

The Aeneid – Virgil

What a crazy, uncertain world this is, on so many levels and in so many arenas!

Most of us want to do something to help improve things. As creators, you know that stories can be exceptionally effective in making people aware of things and in urging them to take action.

What’s your issue? Water, the Rich-Poor Gap, Tech, the Environment, International Organized Crime, or one of the other 15 Challenges listed below.

After the Challenges are some tools to help you craft stories to engage, educate, enlighten, and entertain your readers and viewers:

  1. Mythic Themes – Timeless concepts for any genre or style.
  2. Mythic Statements – When your characters just need to say what they mean.

May you find these classic story tools of value for your own unique creativity.


Mythic Challenges: Create Stories that Change the World

Identified by the Millennium Project and the United Nations

Links include information on each problem and actions to address it worldwide.

1. How can sustainable development be achieved for all while addressing global climate change?
2. How can everyone have sufficient clean water without conflict?
3. How can population growth and resources be brought into balance?
4. How can genuine democracy emerge from authoritarian regimes?
5. How can decision-making be enhanced by integrating improved global foresight during unprecedented accelerating change?
6. How can the global convergence of information and communications technologies work for everyone?
7. How can ethical market economies be encouraged to help reduce the gap between rich and poor?
8. How can the threat of new and reemerging diseases and immune micro-organisms be reduced?
9. How can education make humanity more intelligent, knowledgeable, and wise enough to address its global challenges?
10. How can shared values and new security strategies reduce ethnic conflicts, terrorism, and the use of weapons of mass destruction?
11. How can the changing status of women help improve the human condition?
12. How can transnational organized crime networks be stopped from becoming more powerful and sophisticated global enterprises?
13. How can growing energy demands be met safely and efficiently?
14. How can scientific and technological breakthroughs be accelerated to improve the human condition?
15. How can ethical considerations become more routinely incorporated into global decisions?

MYTHIC THEMES

Once you recognize the pattern of a particular Mythic Theme, what other stories would you add to the lists, both your own and others’?

  • Find and use at least six typical Plot Points on that chosen Theme and your story will resonate with it, too.

Here are videos by filmmakers in our pilot program that included Los Angeles students as well as in Afghanistan through the US State Department.

  • See which of these issues you want to address and be assured you can align with any Mythic Theme in any genre or style. Think of them as musical keys: the same notes but you get to decide the order, the pace, the feel.

THE WAKE-UP CALL

PARSIFAL, BUDDHA, MOSES, KING ARTHUR, LUKE SKYWALKER, JOAN OF ARC, MATRIX, TOY STORY, LORD OF THE RINGS, SPIDERMAN, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, MOONLIGHT, ARRIVAL, BLACK PANTHER

STEALING FIRE FROM HEAVEN

PROMETHEUS, JESUS, ROBIN HOOD, STAND & DELIVER, ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE, MATRIX,THE CONSTANT GARDENER, Milk, STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, JUNGLE BOOK

SEARCH FOR THE PROMISED LAND

AENEID, BOOK OF THE HOPI, MOSES, FAR AND AWAY, GRAPES OF WRATH, LILIES OF THE FIELD, WATERWORLD, PRINCE OF EGYPT, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

WAR IN HEAVEN

TITANS VS. OLYMPAINS, RAGNAROK, BHAGAVAD GITA, DR. STRANGELOVE,  STAR TREKs, STAR GATE, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, STAR WARS, MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, GAME OF THRONES

WHAT A DOLL – Tech Fights Back

PYGMALION & GALATEA, PINNOCHIO, FRANKENSTEIN, MY FAIR LADY, MANNEQUIN, PRETTY WOMAN, THE LITTLE MERMAID, BLADE RUNNER, A.I., EX MACHINA, WESTWORLD

ABOUT FACE / SEX CHANGES

TIRESIUS THE SOOTHSAYER, FIDELIO, MARRIAGE OF FIGARO,   SOME LIKE IT HOT, TOOTSIE, M. BUTTERFLY, THE CRYING GAME, shakespeare in love, BOYS DON’T CRY, the danish girl

TWINS

CASTOR & PULLOX, dr. jekyl & mr. hyde, terminator ii, THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK, GILGAMESH & ENKIDU, HEAT, FACE-OFF, FIGHT CLUB, THE DEPARTED, dark knight, ORPHAN BLACK

THE MIDAS TOUCH

PHAETON, ICARUS, KING MIDAS, WALL STREET, CITIZEN KANE, THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE, THE RED SHOES, DEATH BECOMES HER, BIG, THE BIG SHORT, BILLIONS, SUCCESSION

THE CASSANDRA SYNDROME

I’m right but nobody believes me, CASSANDRA, THE CHINA SYNDROME, ROLLERBALL, SILKWOOD,      CONSPIRACY THEORY, DEVS


MYTHIC STATEMENTS

Subtext makes good dialogue, but there are three times you need to have characters’ lines be very specific:

  • THE THEMATIC STATEMENT   [what’s the story about?]
  • THE MISSION STATEMENT      [what’s the heroine supposed to do?]
  • THE LESSON STATEMENT       [what’s the heroine learn on the way?]

The Statements need to reflect your Mythic Theme, resonate with the tone of the story, and be stated in a style consistent with the character who speaks.

You’ll want a Thematic Statement and then the protagonist and antagonist can each have a Mission Statement (what they think their own story is about) in the beginnings of the story. Each of them would also have a Lesson (epiphany) Statement (what they really learn) towards the end of the story. Properly done, these two character’s statements will be reflections and distortions of each other and will derive from your story’s Thematic Statement.

Working with these Statements during the writing process will help clarify your characters’ motivations, lessons, and outcomes.

POSITION

The Story’s Thematic Statement comes in the first act, usually as part of or right after the setup.

The Mission Statement usually comes in the first act, or at the very latest by the beginning of the second.

The Lesson Statement comes at one of the following:

  1. beginning of 3rd Act as the story shifts directions because of the protagonist’s change of heart & action
  2. climax as they learn what it’s all really been about
  3. denouement if it’s a tragedy or a really surprise ending

DELIVERY

The Story’s Mythic Statement is usually given by a secondary character. Sometimes it’s in the heroine’s voice-over or Narration. In fairy tales, it’s often spoken by a wise old person or an innocent. In Shakespeare, it’s often delivered by an otherwise oblique or obscure character. In modern stories, it’s often just a good one-liner.

The Protagonist usually gets the Mission Statement from someone else.  Sometimes they volunteer for it; sometimes it’s a regrettable duty; sometimes they take on a Mission out of desperation.

The Protagonist usually voices their own Lesson. Occasionally another person points it out to them.

MYTHIC STATEMENT EXAMPLES

APOCALYPSE NOW

  • THEMATIC: [given by the General at the end of the setup]

“There’s a conflict in every human heart between the rational and the irrational, between good and evil, and good does not always triumph. Sometimes the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called ‘the better angels of our nature’. Every man has got a breaking point.”

  • MISSION: [given by the General & the Intelligence Agent, at the end of the setup]

“Terminate the Colonel’s command. Terminate…with extreme prejudice.”

  • LESSON: [given by hero Capt. Willard in his opening narration]

“Everyone gets everything they want. I asked for a mission, and for my sins they gave me one.” “It was no accident I was the caretaker of Colonel Kurtz…to tell his story is to tell mine.”

LORD OF THE RINGS

  • THEME:  [given in the prologue of the first film, Fellowship of the Ring.]

Power in the wrong hands is deadly dangerous.

  • MISSION: [Gandalf to Frodo at the first of the first film, Fellowship of the Ring.]

Throw the ring into Mount Doom.

  • LESSON: [In the second film, The Two Towers, Sam to Frodo.]

Sam: “I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.”

Frodo: “What are we holding on to Sam?”

Sam: “That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.”

May you find these story tools informative and inspiring.

Bring us wondrous tales that can also Change the World!


Connect with Pamela Jaye Smith

www.mythworks.net

www.mythicchallenges.com

[email protected]


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Who is this book for? Novelists, Screenwriters, Playwrights, Directors, Actors, Directors of Photography, Production Designers, Composers, and Sound Designers as well as Development Execs, Producers, Publishers, and Marketers. Identifying, understanding, portraying, and communicating the core of emotion in a story is what entertains, enlightens, and educates your audience.

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PAMELA JAYE SMITH is a mythologist, author, international consultant-speaker, and award-winning writer-producer-director with 30+ years in features, T...