The Gods at Play

Gods and Goddesses play a large role in most myths and legends. While they don’t always show up, there are always greater forces at work (for good and ill) that direct the path of the hero. While you may be an Atheist or simply may not like the idea of incorporating religion into your story, it’s still important to consider the greater forces at play, whatever they may be.

Who Are the Gods?

I’m not suggesting that your hero needs Zeus or Hades to show up in your story, it’s still important to note that there are always forces at play that are beyond the realm of your hero. These forces may help your hero or tempt them off their path. Named or not, they are a big part of the story.

Consider the movie “Free Guy”. The “gods” in this story are the programmers, the evil creator of Free City, and of course the players in the game. While they are actually human, they are the forces beyond Guy’s realm that set the story into action. In fact, it’s actually very significant that he becomes like “the gods” by putting on the sunglasses. According to Campbell, it’s this transendence above the “normal” world that makes a hero truly heroic. By putting on the glasses, Guy has now left the mortal realm and has now, symbolically, become like them.

How do they impact the story?

How these forces impact your story is entirely up to you. Perhaps they guide your hero making sure they are in the right place at the right time. For a bit more fun, perhaps they are the ones making sure that everything goes wrong whenever it possibly can.

Of course, most stories have a mix of both. According to Campbell, the gods don’t hold the same idea of “good” and “bad” as we do. While a god may think they are helping you by making your life more interesting, a nasty bout of stomach flu may not be your idea of a fun Saturday night.

Use the force(s)

As you write your story, consider what you can add to your story to spice it up. Where can you add more conflict? Where can you provide a “god out of the machine” to save the hero in a pinch? While you don’t need to specifically identify the forces that drive the plot, they are there. Be aware of them and use them wisely. In a sense, the writer of a story is always the god to their characters. You decide what good and ill befalls them. Just try to play nice.

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