Radio Hed: Story Forms for Radio Writers – The Myth

Radio-Hed-Logo-2By Jeffrey Hedquist

Using the myth as a story form is another way for you to break writer’s block. Many popular stories, books and movies follow the myth outline.

The dictionary defines a myth as “a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon.” Also as “a person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence.” This definition is what we are looking for when we approach writing a myth-like commercial.

Steps to creating a myth for your client:

1. Create a setting - typically a made-up one; think of “Star Wars” or “Lord of the Rings.” Will your myth be set on another universe or in your city in the distant future? Another option is to set your story in the distant historical past, or even recent past, before the discovery of your client’s business.

2. Create a character who will be the hero/heroine (Luke Skywalker, Athena or Bilbo Baggins) of the myth story. They can be a child poised on the brink of adulthood, or an adult caught between ignorance and wisdom. The journey you set them on will determine which way they go. The hero could be your advertiser, or even better – the prospective customer of your client.

3. Set your hero on a quest; a journey. The hero will leave his familiar world and travel to another time, world or dimension (or store, or the internet) in order to save the world (or time, aggravation or money). The hero does not usually know he is going to the save the world in the beginning. He simply is called to find something or find someone, before his world (or bathroom, wardrobe, party or software) is destroyed and he must journey to find a new place to live (or new solution for his dilemma). In the end of the story, the hero will return to his home world to the adoration of all the townspeople (or co-workers, significant other, or just himself).

4. Give your hero a talisman, a token that he carries with him. Sometimes he already has this talisman, or he may find it while on his journey. He has no idea of its power until much later. Think of the gold ring in “Lord of the Rings or “the force” in “Star Wars.” It could be a store coupon, map or smart phone.

5. Your hero must encounter conflict at every turn. It could be external conflict (dragons, aliens, deadly weather conditions) or internal conflict (indecision, fear, frustration). And then… the advertiser saves the day, offers the solution, and gives your hero the tools to succeed.

What happens when you create a myth for your client? A tickling of the imagination, a magnetic pull that draws listeners to seek out the advertised purveyor of goods and services. It is a secret power. Use it only for good.

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