Skip to main content

Tools for Plotting: Chris Vogler on The Hero's Journey



For the past few weeks, I've been bashing my head against the wall, struggling to shape an amorphous blob of a "big idea" into what I hope will become a satisfying story, an epic journey for both the story's heroine and its readers. Recently, I came across a mention of Chris Vogler's wonderful The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, which is based on the work of Joseph Campbell,
and I was flooded with relief. Although there are plenty of other ways to tell a story, I've always loved reading, watching, and writing the classic hero's journey-styled tale. For the writer, the conscious examination of the unconscious structure we're all programmed to recognize can help to shore up structure in a way nothing else can.

This week, I'm going to try sketching out my heroine's journey by pulling this favorite from my personal toolbox. If you, too, could use a reminder (or an intro) check out this quick video with of screenwriting story consultant Chris Vogler speaking on the stages. The accompanying screen shots from The Matrix are extremely helpful, too.

And if you don't have the book, consider clicking through the link and picking up a copy. This is one of a handful of go-to resources I've used again and again throughout the years.

Comments

You might also be interested in The Heroine's Journey, by Maureen Murdock. In the prison this summer, I'm teaching a class called Mythic Structure for Writers (which I'm really jazzed about, btw!). We're going to examine several different "templates" for structure, including those two. We're also going to be talking about resonant archetypes (ala Campbell).

I do this, of course, because I struggle with overall arc/plot structure. It's the thing that doesn't come naturally to me, particularly when writing suspense.
I'll have to check out Murdock's book, Kathryn. Thanks for the recommendation.

Another book I like a lot is 45 Master Characters:Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters, by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. She includes a section covering a feminine version (not always used for female characters) of the hero's journey as well.
Ooooh, thanks! Any recommendations like this will be so appreciated, particularly in light of that class.
Anonymous said…
Kal's interpretation over at http://www.clickok.co.uk/index4.html is better than Vogler's.
Ah, yes. Thank you, Anonymous. I'd seen that website before but couldn't find it again, and will definitely be pointing that to my students.
Anonymous said…
See Kal Bashir's screenwriting / hero's journey work at http://www.clickok.co.uk/index4.html
Anonymous said…
Oops! Just realised that somebody already mentioned Kal's site. Sorry. Honest mistake. Ouch.
buy kamagra said…
Hey,This is wonderful tool information shared here...I like such type of recommendation..I must appreciated for this.

Popular posts from this blog

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button": Did you love it or hate it?

Earlier this week, Colleen and I went to see "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", the extraordinary movie based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I loved it. Colleen not s'much. (I was sitting there choked in tears at the end of the three hour film, so I only vaguely remember her saying something about "watching paint dry.") I want to see it again, so I'm trying to get the Gare Bear to go with me this weekend, but I won't be surprised if he reacts the same way Colleen did. The movie is long. And odd. It requires patience and a complete suspension of disbelief that modern audiences simply aren't trained for, so you've got to be in the right mood for it. The same is true of the short story, though the story and script have very little in common -- at least superficially. The story is very Fitzgerald (though it's not an example of his best writing, IMHO), and the setting -- Baltimore during the industrial revolution, Spanish Americ

APATHY AND OTHER SMALL VICTORIES by Paul Neilan is only good if you enjoy things like laughter

The only thing Shane cares about is leaving. Usually on a Greyhound bus, right before his life falls apart again. Just like he planned. But this time it's complicated: there's a sadistic corporate climber who thinks she's his girlfriend, a rent-subsidized affair with his landlord's wife, and the bizarrely appealing deaf assistant to Shane's cosmically unstable dentist. When one of the women is murdered, and Shane is the only suspect who doesn't care enough to act like he didn't do it, the question becomes just how he'll clear the good name he never had and doesn't particularly want: his own.