When writing fantasy, origin tales for your entire world are just as important as the rest of it. If you aren't writing fantasy, depending on your story, your origin tales are just as vital.
Origin tales can mean just about anything, though.
They can mean:
* The age old folklore tales told around campfire and hearth fire. These are the origins of how the world was created, who the heroes and legends were.
* The origin of your character. Where they originated. Sometimes, in Young Adult fiction, if the main character is in high school, their classmates might gossip and spread their own origin tales.
* If you're writing paranormal, the origin tales can describe the history of vampires, werewolves or even cursed items.
*Maybe you are re-telling a fairy tale, in which the origin story is the most important part.
While this post may pertain to mostly fantasy, you can still glean some information on why origin tales are important.
Origin tales set up the background of everything. It describes kingdoms, people, places, items. They shape and define entire cultures and personalities.
When the United States decided to break from England, Americans fought hard for their freedom. They fought to control their own lives, their own destinies, to free themselves from tyranny. Now, because of our bloody history and hard fought battles, Americans are viewed as a crass, independent (spoiled) country. Unless someone is in trouble, then we're the savior, because we know how to fight for what we feel is right.
So perhaps you're writing of a kingdom of warriors. Everyone turns to them in times of trouble and need. They'll drop everything to help their neighbors, yet they are honorable enough to listen to both sides before choosing whether or not to send aid. But what happens when they need aid? No one will know how to help them. They aren't used to having to rescue the strongest kingdom in all the lands.
If dealing with a paranormal cursed item, the origins are vital to figure out how it became cursed and how to break that curse. That item was part of a significant moment in time where someone felt they had no other option than to cast a curse on an object to ensure that whoever found it in the future would not only feel the misery of the one who cast the curse, but also understand the need for the curse.
Origins have the power to shape futures, whether it be a person, place or thing. So when you are coming up with your origin tales, think of the complexity of the original story. Also remember that they will have been told over and over again, and we know what happens then. Things get jumbled and mixed up or changed to meet the needs of the storyteller. You'll have to figure out from beginning to end what the origin tales will be, if different cultures had different perspectives.
Have any other suggestions about origin tales? Leave a comment!