The Writer’s Journey
-I came to believe that the Hero’s Journey is nothing less than a handbook for life, a complete instruction manual in the art of being human -the Hero’s Journey is not an invention, but an observation. It is a recognition of a beautiful design, a set of principles that govern the conduct of life and the world of storytelling the way physics and chemistry govern the physical world -from this model, infinite and highly varied copies can be produced, each resonating with the essential spirit of the form -the Hero’s Journey is a pattern that seems to extend in many dimensions, describing more than one reality. It accurately describes, among other things, the process of making a journey, the necessary working parts of a story, the joys and despairs of being a writer, and the passage of a soul through life -Joseph Campbell’s great accomplishment was to articulate clearly something that had been there all along - the life principles embedded in the structure of stories -the self-conscious, heavy-handed use of this model can be boring and predictable. But if writers absorb its ideas and re-create them with fresh insights and surprising combinations, they can make amazing new forms and original designs from the ancient, immutable parts -at the core of every artist is a sacred place where all the rules are set aside or deliberately forgotten, and nothing matters but the instinctive choices of the heart and soul of the artist -a certain amount of form is necessary to reach a wide audience. People expect it and enjoy it, so long as it’s varied by some innovative combination or arrangement and doesn’t fall into a completely predictable formula -taking this metaphorical system too literally, or arbitrarily imposing its forms on every story can be stultifying. It should be used as a form, not a formula, a reference point and a source of inspiration, not a dictatorial mandate -the Hero’s Journey has been criticized as an embodiment of a male-dominated warrior culture -the warrior is only one of the faces of the hero, who can also be pacifist, mother, pilgrim, fool, wanderer, hermit, inventor, nurse, savior, artist, lunatic, lover, clown, king, victim, slave, worker, rebel, adventurer, tragic failure, coward, saint, monster, etc. The many creative possibilities of the form far outweigh its potential for abuse -the thousands of variations on the paradigm, worked out over the centuries, offer endless branches from which infinite webs of story can be built -the Shadow archetype operates within the individual as a repository for unexpressed feelings and desires. It is a force that accumulates when you fail to honor your gifts, follow the call of your muses, or live up to your principles and ideals -it has great but subtle power, operating on deep levels to communicate with you, perhaps sabotaging your efforts, upsetting your balance until you realize the message these events bring - that you must express your creativity, your true nature, or die -in this system: Plot Point I = The 1st Threshold. The Mid-Point = The Ordeal. The climax of the Second Act = The Road Back -each act is like a movement of a symphony, with its own beginning, middle, and end, and with its own climax (the highest point of tension) coming just before the ending of the act -each act sends the hero on a certain track with a specific aim or goal, and that the climaxes of each act change the hero’s direction, assigning a new goal -straightening out the curves of the circle created sharp, 90 degree turns at the quarter points and revealed drastic changes that may occur in the hero’s objective. Each straight line represents the hero’s aim in that act -the journey to understand and articulate these ideas is truly endless. Although certain human conditions will never change, new situations are always arising, and the Hero’s Journey will adapt to reflect them Preparing for the Journey
-all stories consist of a few common structural elements...
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