The Key How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth

James N. Frey

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

272 Pages



Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy
Frey here applies his widely celebrated "Damn Good" approach to writing fiction to the wisdom and scholarship of Joseph Campbell. His book explores Campbell's insights regarding the universal structure of myths, thus providing a practical guide for writers wanting to shape their ideas into powerful mythic stories.


Praise for The Key

"You could struggle through learning the basics of storytelling by trial and error or you could just read this book. I wish I had this fifteen years ago."—Sara Pariott, screenwriter for The Runaway Bride

"For me, the mythological approach has indeed been the key to creating stories that have a far greater impact on the reader than anything I'd written before."—Tess Collins, author of The Law of Blood and The Law of Revenge

"This well-written and witty how-to [focuses] on the tradition of myth as a recipe for storytelling. Drawing from Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth, Frey explains that people respond strongly to mythic images and will essentially read the same stories over and over again; readers of romances are a good example of this concept. The first half of the book is especially interesting, for it examines the mythic structure in such diverse works as Robin Hood, Beowulf, and Jaws and looks at myths that function in everyday modern life. In the second half, Frey provides the reader with a sample novella titled 'The Blue Light' to illustrate the use of myth as a writing tool. Expect beginning writers to use this informative guide along with the author's other books."—Library Journal

"Everything I know about plotting a novel, I learned from Frey."—Marjorie Reynolds, author of The Starlite Drive-In

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

The Key
1The Awesome Power of MythThe Storyteller's MagicAs a storyteller, you practice a kind of magic, the most powerful magic on earth. You are a mythopoet, a maker of myth, and it is myth that consciously and subconsciously guides every human being on this planet, for good or ill.Bunk, you say. Myths are old and dead and have no meaning to modern man.Better think again.Think about communism and its mythology. One-fourth of the people on earth still live under communism, despite the recent changes in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. The communists constructed a mythology that they
Read the full excerpt


  • James N. Frey

  • James N. Frey is the author of the internationally bestselling How to Write a Damn Good Novel and How to Write a Damn Good Novel, II, as well as nine novels. He has taught and lectured on creative writing at several different schools and conferences throughout the U.S. and Europe.
  • James N. Frey Elizabeth Frey