It’s probably safe to say, the ultimate goal of any fiction writer is to create a legend. After all, writing an enjoyable story may be fine, but to write one that sticks, now that’s something else entirely!
So what makes a story a legend?
Well, one way a legend comes about is when a writer or storyteller takes the life of a real person, and exaggerates events to make the individual appear more heroic or amazing.
According to The “Legend of the Saints” by Heinrich Gunter, and many other reliable sources, legend making became customary during the early days of the Roman Church for example, when they would elaborate on the miracles preformed by their saints to make them seem more holy, or connected to the powers that be.
What then happens is, the story overtakes reality by being told this way over and over throughout the generations until it becomes the accepted narrative.
Of course, there’s other ways to create a legend without using real people or waiting generations before it sticks.
Because you see, the real key to being legendary is in getting the story to become synonymous with a common reference point.
A case in point might be if I said the word, “vampire.” Chances are if you’re my age, the name Dracula would be the first thing that popped in your mind, because Bram Stoker’s version of what a vampire is, became the reference all others copied for years afterward.
However, this also shows how a story doesn’t have to be old, or first to become a legend. Just ask someone a little younger than the days of Bella Lugosi playing Dracula on the big screen, and you might find Ann Rice’s Lestat is the big cheese among the coffin loving crowd. Or talk to a teenager, and it might be Edward from the Twilight series.
In any case, becoming synonymous is how to create a legend, and your story becomes synonymous by the amount of impact it has on the general populace.
But how then do you write a fictional story to have such a huge impact on people that it becomes a legend?
Just like they did in the old days with the saints, you make it seem real enough to be feasibly true.
Of course, nobody who buys books from the fiction shelf is going to truly accept what you write as a factual account. After all, that’s why it’s on the fiction shelf.
But it’s not necessary to make them believe it in order to create a legend. You just have to write it in a way that if whatever land, creature, or character you’re writing about was actually real, your story would be believable.
And once you get your readers to the point where they accept your version, regardless if it’s based on reality or not, you’ll have managed to create a legend, or at a least the makings of one. All that’s left is for them to start referencing it synonymously.
Don’t believe me? Google it! (synonym reference)