You are here:

Writing Books/Myth and Religion in fiction

Advertisement


Question
Hi Cathy, I am plotting and developing a novel currently but have ran into a few problems about how to portray religion and certain mythological characters without upsetting any demographic or running into any form of libel or copyright. My story is somewhat similar to an Indiana Jones type of adventure, with a fair amount of other myth and religious aspects thrown in.
From my understanding there is no law on using well known myth character like Zeus for example and placing them in a different setting or changing the character from the one shown in myth. Secondly how can i portray certain elements of Christian and Jewish faith without creating offence. And conclusively, is there a rule on the use of archeological findings and ruins, for example use of the Pyramids of Giza or ones of occult status like Atlantis or Shangri-La?

Thanks,
Ricky

Answer
Hi, Ricky!

The nice thing with fiction is you get a wide latitude to play with. Here's the trick I've learned so that you don't tick anyone off. Have a CHARACTER get offended in the reader's place. You then have the opportunity to have your protagonist/villain explain why/how the mythos the reader understands to be true DOESN'T APPLY to your new, improved world.

Think of every possible argument/objection someone who is truly offended would make, and have the character you create debate the issue with someone else. Let them be at least PARTIALLY convinced (even if only because they can't dispute their own eyes) and your reader will happily go along for the ride. It's called the "suspension of disbelief" in the trade. :)

No rules about use of findings. I do it all the time. You get to turn things on their ear. But you DO have to stay faithful to the proper TECHNIQUES. You'll get slaughtered for mis-identifying a tool or a procedure if your character is supposed to be an "expert". I highly recommend picking up a few issues of ARCHAEOLOGY or BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGY (or at least looking at some of the articles online) to get a real sense of "being there" for your characters.

Hope that helps a little, and good luck! :)

Cathy

Writing Books

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Cathy Clamp

Expertise

I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.

Experience

I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Organizations
Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Publications
Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

Education/Credentials
My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.