Folktales As A Source Of Ideas – Myths, Tales And Legends


As a writer, you probably enjoy folktales, superstitions and myths. Those are the ones that last forever. They are told over and over through time and space. It’s quite extraordinary. Unpolished, simple stories that give us a glimpse of what was important to humans of a different age.

Serbian culture is a part of a Slav culture and the earliest myths originate from there, but some stories that are characteristic for this nation include flying horse, giants, unbeatable heroes and other evergreen ideas.

Well, using those ideas is no good, is it? They’re old, predictable, read.

But, there is an emerging trend among modern writers and it’s putting extraordinary back into perspective of a human. So, McCullough’s A Song of Troy is a masterpiece in that regard. She brilliantly puts a myth in reality and explains the legend as it would have happened in reality.

I mentioned Serbian folklore because it offers me a lot of old ideas to incorporate into my stories. Every historical event from our early years has a myth around it. All of them are covered in the mist of heroism since a hero for the people was greatly needed. So, they took a popular guy called Marko and turned him in one of the greatest heroes of the nation even though his real importance in 14th century events was minor. Suddenly, he could drain water from a piece of wood that was dried for seven years, his best and finest friend was a horse, he capriciously defied the Ottoman Empire, etc.

There’s no real story in this, actually. But, there is a sense of a story. Of a time. That is the reason I like folktales. I listen to them and I read them. Those stories offer ideas that will never seize to be popular in some way or another.

Folktales, in their original form, can serve as perfect metaphors for the situations your characters find themselves. Folktales can provide you a little, personal theme and improve your story greatly.

You have two options when you find yourself inspired by a myth: rewrite it to suite the reality or apply it in its original form as a theme. Both ways could almost guarantee the improvement of the quality. Especially if the idea sparks your reader’s curiosity and they want to learn more about a myth they’ve never heard of.

Use this power wisely and study your ideas in depth.

Author: Mladen Reljanović

Mladen Reljanović is the founder and lead writer at Writer to Writers. He is the author of Oaktown stories, senior student of communication and a pianist.

16 thoughts on “Folktales As A Source Of Ideas – Myths, Tales And Legends

  1. Funny to run into this article. Just a few days ago I started reading over old fairy tales and have been looming for a way to incorporate them into my writing 🙂

    Great article. Thank you.

    1. Thank you very much. I love myths and folktales and I always look for a way to use them in writing. Good luck with it 😀

  2. Always wondered about folklores, myths and folkloristic medicine and magic. I grew up with Hungarian, German and Russian stories. Then I discovered greek mythology, and went straight for the Chinese, African and Japanese. It was amazing! How different they were is some points. How different were the stakes and the the hero’s way to fulfill his destiny, how different the villains were.
    Then looking back on modern myths from middle Europe and that what can be accounted to become modern folklore (i.e. Disney’s early work, Tolkien, and so many more) I recognized how much people are shaped by them. The behavioral blueprint for program solving, socializing, and coping starts right there.

    If you were a fairytale character, which one would you be?

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