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August 17 2013 (48th CBW-LA Meetup): Potent World-Making: What’s Myth Got to Do With It?

17 Aug 2013 4:33 PM | Nutschell Anne Windsor (Administrator)

Workshop Description:

Creating irresistible worlds is the main strategy we have as book writers to compete with entertainment modes that move at the speed of speed.  And snagging a young reader’s interest is all about the world you bid them enter, one they will co-create (as we writer’s know, in our civilization’s past, video games were called “imagination”). 

Why should they enter the world you’ve made for them?  The ancient storytellers –mythmakers dialed in to the art of getting their audience to make the leap...and you can be, too.

Reece Michaelson and Pamela Jaye Smith, authors of THE JOURNALS OF PETRA VOLARE-- SCROLL I: FROM THE SHADOWS, a book with a new archetype for girls, share their ABC’s for creating irresistible worlds for readers.

Learn more about the book here:

Read an interview with the authors here:


Speakers’ Bios:

 author Reece Michaelson 1

Author Reece Michaelson

When Reece Michaelson decided it was time to generate a new archetype for girls, she knew the one person who could help make it fly was Mythworks™ consultant Pamela Jaye Smith. With her considerable background in applied mythology and esoteric teachings, Pamela had provided  insights on the mythical underpinnings of an original series idea Reece pitched to noted SciFi scriptwriter/executive director Rockne S. O’Bannon (DEFIANCE, ALIEN NATION, FARSCAPE, SF ONE)  which resulted in an irresistible idea that snagged O’Bannon’s interest, and the subsequent pilot script was bought by ABC/Touchstone. As well, having been mentored at NYU by some of the great icon-creators of our time, including Arthur Laurents (WEST SIDE STORY) and Stephen Schwartz (WICKED), Reece could see that Pamela Jaye's sense for combining education with spot-on storytelling would help nail the most iconic aspects of the tale.


author pamela jaye smith

Author Pamela Jaye Smith

Pamela Jaye Smith is a writer, international consultant and speaker, and award-winning producer-director with over 30 years in the media industry, from feature films to music videos, commercials to documentaries. She is the author of INNER DRIVES, THE POWER OF THE DARK SIDE, BEYOND THE HERO’S JOURNEY, and  SYMBOLS.IMAGES.CODES: The Secret Language of Meaning in Media. As well as in-person classes here and abroad, Pamela teaches online on Mythic Themes, Archetypes, and Symbols for a number of venues. She is the founder of MYTHWORKSand co-founder of the Alpha Babe Academy and Mythic Challenges. She has presented workshops for the Children’s Book Writers of LA in 2011 and 2012.


Workshop Summary:

Based on the ancient Greek mythology of Icarus, the boy who flew too close to the sun, THE JOURNALS OF PETRA VOLARE SCROLL 1: FROM THE SHADOWS is a story about a budding young inventor named Calice. The book steeped in mythology and as such was the perfect example for co –authors Pamela and Reece’s workshop.

authors with their book petra volare

Pamela Jaye Smith and Reece Michaelson on their Book Petra Volare

Creating irresistible worlds is the primary goal of any writer or content creator. In order to craft tales that engage their audience, they must use timeless world-making tools. These story-crafting tools were well known by the ancient storytellers--the mythmakersundefinedand are still useful in today’s writing process.

Pamela and Reece explained the ABC’s for creating irresistible world for today’s readers.

 A – Access an Applicable Myth. (Or Access several)

B – Burn and Crash vs. Crash and Burn: reverse causality.

C – Cadence.

D – Drives: Inner Begets Outer.

E – Etymology: be a detective.

F – Field notes.

G – Go out.

H – Hire Pamela Jaye!!  (not kidding!)  Alternate: Hallucinate.

I – Inquire of main character:  “What’s YOUR favorite myth/mythic Archetype?”

J – Journaling: accessing characters’ innermost secrets.

K – Kaleidoscope journaling – use a single event [think “Roshomon”]. 

L – Legends vs. Myth vs. Folk Tales.

M – Map the world.

N – Name the Nobody.

O – Orphans: why they’re so potent (and prevalent in KidLit).

P – Pay attention to patterns in contemporary media.

Q – Questify everyone’s role.

R – Reverse Engineer: unravel and reweave your applicable myth.

S – Symbology: infuse your story.

T – Trailer:  conceive your book’s trailer.

U – Ultimatum: tool of the gods/goddesses.

V – Value Add:  make a Teacher’s Guide.

W – World Making Through Mythic Cover Art.

X – XENA: Watch old episodes.

Y – YouTube Field Trips.

Z – Zeus Ex Machina….or, Zip It Up! 

 attentive audience

Attentive CBWLA participants

One of my favorite parts of the workshop was when Pamela discussed the differences between Legends, Myth and Folk Tales.

According to her, Legends are stories about people/things that happened but gain a higher status. The stories are based on truth but over time become grander and more metaphorical in nature.

Folk Tales are stories told by locals to get everyone in line with the local customs and beliefs of their village. They teach kids and newcomers how to behave in a certain way within their culture.

Myths are universal truths dressed up in local lore, and  can be used to add a depth of meaning to one’s writing. The best myths are true on several levels:

  1. Geological
  2. Geographical
  3. Physiological
  4. Psychological
  5. Sociological
  6. Historical
  7. Astrological
  8. Cosmological
  9. Astronomical

authors pamela jaye smith and reece michaelson

Pamela Jaye Smith and Reece Michaelson 

Pamela also suggested using Symbology to infuse one’s story, since symbols have a built in pattern that humans can subconsciously pick up.  Finding the main symbol in your storyundefinedwhether it’s a symbol for a character, an element (like earth, water, fire or air), or even architecture will add a layer of meaning to your work.  For example, high ceilings actually heighten creativity just as low enclosed spaces dampen them. So placing a character in a cave vs placing him in a cathedral will bring about different meanings to the scene.

Pamela and Reece also shared a list of valuable resources that writers can use in order to learn more about myths and symbols.

After a Q & A session, the workshop ended, and everyone lined up to get copies of their books signed by authors.

Pamela and Reece were very generous with their time and knowledge. They answered all of the participants’ questions about their own manuscripts and even brought cookies for everyone to share as snacks! They also proudly wore the CBWLA pins which we had given them during their entire workshop.

speakers with officers

Authors Reece Michaelson and Pamela Jaye Smith ( proudly wearing their CBWLA pins), 

with CBWLA Officers Nutschell Windsor and Tiffani Barth, 

Their workshop can only be described as outstanding and we are truly lucky to have had Pamela and Reece as speakers.

 pamela jaye smith and reece michaelson with cbwla

Authors Pamela Jaye Smith and Reece Michaelson with CBWLA

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