Richard Pulfer
Richard Pulfer

To prepare for National Novel Writing Month, member Richard Pulfer covered the hero’s journey at the October In Print meeting and walked members through a writing exercise.  Joesph Campbell opined that most myths around the world could be boiled down to a monomyth, a common set of story elements.  Screenwriter Chris Vogler boiled this down in his book The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers.

  • Ordinary World – This is the opening where we meet the hero living a normal life.
  • Call to Adventure – Something from outside of the hero’s normal experience appears.
  • Refusal to Call – Initially the hero does not want to leave the regular world.
  • Meet with a Mentor – The hero meets with someone who provides important information that will prove vital in the journey they’re about to take.
  • First Threshold – The journey begins.
  • Test Allies and Enemies – Along the way, the hero meets people that will either help or hurt their cause.
  • Approach to the Inmost Cave – This is the darkest time with the highest peril for the hero.
  • Ordeal – The hero has to survive a set of tests.
  • Reward – Once successful, the hero receives a reward – either physical or spiritual.
  • The Road Back – The hero escapes.
  • Resurrection – This doesn’t have to mean a literal resurrection.  Often the hero is able to “resurrect” a part of their spirit, lost until the journey.
  • Return with Elixir – The hero returns to the ordinary world as a changed person with the ability to change those around them.

It was Vogler’s assertion every successful movie follows this story arc.  We hope so; In Print members took inspiration from news reports and wrote story outlines that conformed to the list.  For example: A man discovers he’s been declared legally dead and through his journey to reclaim his life, he overcomes addiction and regains his wife and family.  Hollywood should give us a call!

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