Story Inspiration from Mythulu Cards by Beth Barany
A few weeks back a writing friend of mine told me about this new deck for story tellers she heard mentioned on a writers podcast: Mythulu. And I am so excited to tell you why I’ve fallen in love with this creativity and inspiration tool.
(Thanks Vanessa Kier, novelist and Scrivener and writing tech teacher, and that writing friend of mine!)
I checked it out and was so impressed I bought it as soon as I could.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been playing with the cards, doing draws, as they’re called.
I started with the sample draw: make a monster, and have stayed with that intent ever since.
Why? Because I’m working on a series of stories as TV episodes for the continuing adventures of Henrietta The Dragon Slayer and her friends, working title (just for me): “Henrietta and the Monsters.”
These stories would pick up where the third book in my trilogy left off. I’ve already written one episode and drafted a story bible and was planning to write at least one more episode this year.
As a passion/side project, I’m taking my time, but once I started playing with the Mythulu cards and creating monsters, I got so excited. Designing these creatures is helping me design the world and how things came to be.
You can peek into how I’m using the deck and what it’s inspiring in these images from Instagram below. (These also get cross posted to Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/bethbarany.)
My First Draw: Testing the Waters
View this post on Instagram
Hello #Mythulu. Here’s my first draw on your suggested topic of monsters. I’m working on a series of stories in my #HenriettaTheDragonSlayer world where she and her friends confront monsters in a new land. My goal is create a new monster to confront in every episode. based on this draw, meet “Leathery.” A leathery creature, dried out because of the desert (the story setting); painted with gold in its broken places, from the deep minerals in the earth. That gold was once her treasure. But this creature wasn’t always this way. She was born in the swamp times, in a place and time of chaos and fluctuation in the ancient past. She was born with the ability to transform energy into matter and cared only for gold transformation. All for the purpose of powering and flowering life. Then a long millennia passed and she can no longer generate from her surroundings, because all the gold that she drew to her comes no longer. The water is gone; she’s dried out too. So she’s hungry. So hungry. She has taken spread out into wispy grey leathery vines with specks and spindles of gold. Any living creature that touches it, even a fly, becomes trapped and becomes food, dying a slow, agonizing death. Eventually, she’s re-creating the swamp like conditions of her birth. Henrietta and her friends stumble on the area — I’m not sure how. Maybe someone asks for their help to get a child or stray pet unstuck from the grey-green-gold vines. I love setting up the problem, then discovering the solution through the actually writing. #writersofig #amwritingfantasy #writerslife #inspiration
I thought it would be a monster, but it was an ally
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Re: creating a monster via my #Mythulu cards, I skipped the last few days because I was busy with sightseeing (then had to nap). Then I got sick and had to sleep nearly a whole day. But I’m back at it and very excited by what I created today, sparked by the Mythulu cards. (Love how they spark the imagination! I pulled more cards than usual because I had questions that needed creative answers.) . This creature turns out to be an ally and a sort of historian. Once #Henriettathedragonslayer and friends get over their shock of this wooden woven creature that seems to speak in birdsong. And at first screams in shock at the fire they light under its branches. . What if this creature takes them to an ancient mine and offers them its sacred symbol to unlock it, so that the land can be restored? But the friends resist, not knowing enough about the mine and its history? So the creature tells its story… and Jaxter, the Bard of the group, translates. . This is a story-behind-the-story episode and needs to be fleshed out. Could be interesting. Greed and exploration turned the gold mine into poison, spawned monsters, and destroyed the land around it. Until the creature sacrificed its life (it thought) to shut the mine forever. . That’s my brainstorm for today. . #inspiration #amwriting #amwritingfantasy #writerslife #writersofig
One of the things I love and am challenged by about the Mythulu cards is their mission statement: to inspire original myths or, as it says in their marketing materials, “no more remakes.” (You can read a great interview here about what inspired the Mythulu cards.)
I’m inspired by the mission, but intimated by it too. What if I can’t create original myths? Who decides that? And do I know when I am actually creating original myths?
Then I decided not to worry about the “original” part and just focus on the “inspire” part. The rest will take care of itself. The originality is not for me to decide, but for my readers to declare.
Mythulu In Action
You can follow more of my posts about how I’m playing with Mythulu on Instagram. (Also cross posted to Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/bethbarany.)
I use the hashtag #Mythulu., so clicking on the hashtag will take you to all the related posts, including the Instagram posts the creator of Mythulu, Laura Shanae Crenshaw, posted.
Maybe if you get and play with the deck, you’ll share your creations on social media with the hashtag #Mythulu, too. I’d love to see what you create.
Story Inspiration Comes in Many Forms
I know this deck is only one tool among bazillions. Do you have a favorite story inspiration tool or activity? If so, share it in the comments below. I’d love to learn about it. May we inspire each other!
ABOUT BETH BARANY
Beth Barany helps authors get their books completed and out into the world, into the hands of their readers.
Creativity Coach for Writers, NLP Master Practitioner, and Master Teacher, Beth Barany has been there and knows how hard it can be to take your idea and turn it into a real book, that people will actually be interested, and even yearning, to read.
She walks the talk, as her clients like to say. She is the author of the 2012 award-winning young adult fantasy novel Henrietta The Dragon Slayer that debuted the trilogy by the same name, writes well-received paranormal romance and nonfiction books for authors and aspiring authors. (And is currently working hard on a science fiction mystery series that is due to debut in 2020.)
Ready to finish your book but not sure how?
Hire Beth to help you or take a class at Barany School of Fiction.
We help you gain clarity so you can inspire the world with your stories. Our courses are designed to help you get into action — to write, polish, and publish your stories to the delight of your readers.
You can also go here to check out our 12-month Group Coaching Program for dedicated novelists.
Still have questions? Email Beth.
I will reply 🙂
More on Writer’s Fun Zone
Your Next Steps as A Fiction Writer
- 8 Tips to Planning Your Novel (blog post) or check out the comprehensive book of the same material: Plan Your Novel Like A Pro (available in print or digital)
- Your 4 Stages of Writing a Novel (Take this quiz)
- Talk to a Writing Coach (It’s my joy and life’s work to help fiction writers.)
What inspires you today?
Post in the comments and let me know.
Hi Beth! Thanks for posting your experiences with the Mythulu cards, I’m ordering a deck of my own to work with. I have two story writing tools that I wanted to share, the first is called Story Forge cards. You can find these at Storyforge.com and the creator B.J. West has tutorial videos also. The second hasn’t been published yet, but it’s called the Portal Tarot and currently on Kickstarter. I’ve been experimenting with story creation using Tarot cards but I’m a noob at interpreting the cards and this looks to be a perfect introduction for beginners. The link is https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/376399785/the-portal-tarot-the-apprentice. Happy writing!
Hi Kevin! I’m so glad I inspired you to get the Mythulu cards. Thanks for sharing the Story Forge cards (http://storyforgecards.com/) and about the Portal Tarot. Both look cool. Perhaps you’d like to share about your experiences with each of these decks on Writer’s Fun Zone as an article.
Sure! Once I receive the Portal Tarot I would love to provide an article and share my experiences!
Wonderful, Kevin. Looking forward to it.