Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Legends

Legend has it.... A common start line used to explain something in the present of a story based upon a tale that happened in the past (or something like that.)

What is a legend:
An interesting definition is one I actually found on Wikipedia and while I don't often go with stuff from the site, this one is efficient enough. The page on Legend states that A modern folklorist's professional definition of legend was proposed by Timothy R. Tangherlini in 1990: "Legend, typically, is a short (mono-) episodic, traditional, highly ecotypified historicized narrative performed in a conversational mode, reflecting on a psychological level a symbolic representation of folk belief and collective experiences and serving as a reaffirmation of commonly held values of the group to whose tradition it belongs."

Another definition from the dictionary on my laptop is: a traditional story sometimes popularly regarded as historical but unauthenticated.

In writing: 
Legends can add a certain depth to a story, world, being or plot. When worldbuilding, one thing to maybe consider is the legends that can be found in the world. Legends can also be found within cliches so there isn't a clear line always of when, which and how to use a legend. Fantasy often uses legends within their realms on many different levels, depending on the story, but the legend isn't just a device to be used in the one genre. Whether it's a prominent aspect of the tale, or a side note that adds flavor, there are many uses of the legend and it's the writer's job to find their own way on how to use them.

Whether old or newly made up, legends are a big part of the writing world and one not easily forgotten.

A few sites:

Do you use legends in your story?
What legend really sticks with you the most?


DeniseCovey_L_Aussie said...

I don't really write stories that would be enhanced by legends but I love a good story that does. Great post.


SA Larsenッ said...

I haven't used a legend, but I have used a prophesy. It's fun to play with these sorts of themes. There's freedom in them, I think.

Dawn Embers said...

Denise - Thanks for the comment. I haven't done much with legends yet either. It's good to know when to use them and when not to use one.

SA Larsen - ahh the prophesy. Those are something to consider as well.Thanks.

Susan Kane said...

Legends seems grand and unrealistic, but I wonder if there was once a grain of truth or an event from which the legend emerged.

Dawn Embers said...

Susan Kane - They are quite grand, a good way to put it. Thanks for the comment.