The Storytelling Lab - Ep18: Myths & Monsters with William Simpson
Updated: Apr 27
This week's guest is William Simpson, screenwriter and storytelling enthusiast . Simpson is known for his work on Myths & Monsters and Murder Maps, both available on Netflix. Rain and Will nerd out over stories and history, diving into questions including: What makes a good character? What common themes do we use in storytelling? What parts are needed in each and every story? And how do stories interact with society?
When Audrey, my Associate Producer, booked Will Simpson on the podcast, I gave her an emphatic virtual high five (she works remotely).
I was elated!
Not only did she book a writer and producer of a Netflix show that is literally about storytelling, but I knew I would get the chance to completely geek out about history and storytelling with another nerd like me.
Plot twist: He was an even bigger storytelling nerd than I was!
This dude actually studied stories, the “Classics,” as they are called, at University of Cambridge.
“The Classics” are the legends, myths, and stories of ancient Greek and Latin literature, and Will shared some of his favorites, including: the myth of Medea, Antigone, and The Iliad.
I had to bow with respect. Will was a master.
In his show, Myths & Monsters, he dives into the different themes of classic European myths and how they have continued to be threaded throughout our cultural narrative for millennia.
We discussed questions like:
What makes a good character? What common themes do we use in storytelling? What parts are needed in each and every story? And how do stories interact with society?
He explained Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey,” which is one of the most famous foundational concepts of storytelling.
This is where every storyteller should start!
My goal in business, and with this podcast, is to use the skills, knowledge, and experience I’ve gained through years of filmmaking to teach “business creatives” how to use storytelling to maximize their impact.
If you're a "business creative" and looking for some storytelling wisdom...
THIS IS THE PERFECT EPISODE TO START .
Some highlights of our conversation:
Stories that you love in your childhood say with you
Why Will studied The Classics at University
Stories and history: how do they intersect and affect each other?
Themes we use in storytelling: death, love, war
The Netflix Series: Myths and Monsters
The use of simple animation in the series
The Hero’s Journey - Joseph Campbell
What makes a good character - likeability? Relatability?
The myth of Medea
The story of Antigone
The Iliad: how ancient, simple stories can speak to deep themes of war, love, human connection…
Each story needs a clear desire, a clear obstacle, and an ending
Stories force society to look at itself in an uncomfortable light - stories should make us reflect
The western-centric views of history & storytelling: Simpson's recent work on a documentary about the Tang Dynasty in China
And, as William says...
Stories are a tool. They are what we use to work out who we are on the most basic level.
I hope you enjoy the episode!
Peace and Love,
Follow William on Twitter @will__simpson
Watch Myths & Monsters on Netflix
Watch Murder Maps on Netflix
For more storytelling tips and tricks,
Follow us on Instagram @sixsecondstories
Visit our website sixsecondstories.com