The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition


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Acts and Stages

The Plains Indians wore buffalo skins to sneak within bow-shot of the bison herd. The hero may get past a Threshold Guardian by entering into its spirit or taking on its appearance. The situation looks bleak.

The Writer's Journey

However, our heroes are ambushed by three sentries and overcome them, taking their uniforms and weapons. Disguised as soldiers, they join the end of a column and march right into the castle. They have turned an attack to their advantage by literally climbing into the skins of their opponents. Instead of uselessly trying to defeat a superior enemy, they have temporarily become the enemy. In daily life, you have probably encountered resistance when you try to make a positive change in your life. People around you, even those who love you, are often reluctant to see you change. They are used to your neuroses and have found ways to benefit from them.

The idea of your changing may threaten them. Threshold Guardians who appear to be attacking may in fact be doing the hero a huge favor. Heroes also learn to recognize resistance as a source of strength. As in bodybuilding, the greater the resistance, the greater the strength.

In fact it makes them stronger. Ideally, Threshold Guardians are not to be defeated but incorporated literally, taken into the body. Ultimately, fully evolved heroes feel compassion for their apparent enemies and transcend rather than destroy them. Heroes must learn to read the signals of their Threshold Guardians. Ferocious-looking demon statues sometimes guard the entrances to Japanese temples.

The message is: Those who are put off by outward appearances cannot enter the Special World, but those who can see past surface impressions to the inner reality are welcome. In stories, Threshold Guardians take on a fantastic array of forms. They may be border guards, sentinels, night watchmen, lookouts, bodyguards, bandidos, editors, doormen, bouncers, entrance examiners, or anyone whose function is to temporarily block the way of the hero and test her powers.

The energy of the Threshold Guardian may not be embodied as a character, but may be found as a prop, architectural feature, animal, or force of nature that blocks and tests the hero. This is the energy of the Herald archetype.

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Like the heralds of medieval chivalry, Herald characters issue challenges and announce the coming of significant change. The heralds of knighthood were responsible for keeping track of lineages and coats of arms, and had an important role in identifying people and relationships in battle, tournaments, and on great state occasions such as weddings. They were the protocol officers of their day. At the commencement of war a herald might be called upon to recite the causes of the conflict; in effect, to provide the motivation.

The appearance of these Heralds is the spark that sets off a war. They have handled an imbalanced life through a series of defenses or coping mechanisms. Then all at once some new energy enters the story that makes it impossible for the hero to simply get by any longer. A decision must be made, action taken, the conflict faced. A Call to Adventure has been delivered, often by a character who manifests the archetype of the Herald. Heralds are so necessary in mythology that the Greek god Hermes Roman Mercury is devoted to expressing this function.

Hermes appears everywhere as the messenger or Herald of the gods, performing some errand or bearing a message from Zeus. The appearance of Hermes as Herald gets the story rolling. Something deep inside us knows when we are ready to change and sends us a messenger. This may be a dream figure, a real person, or a new idea we encounter. But something inside us has been struck like a bell, and the resulting vibrations spread out through our lives until change is inevitable.

They alert the hero and the audience that change and adventure are coming. Gary Grant plays a secret agent trying to enlist Ingrid Bergman, the playgirl daughter of a Nazi spy, in a noble cause. He plays her a recording of an argument she had with her father, in which she renounced his spying and declared her loyalty to the United States. Confronted by the evidence of her own patriotism, she accepts the call to adventure. She is motivated. The Herald may be a person or a force. The coming of a storm or the first tremors of the earth, as in Hurricane or Earthquake, may be the Herald of adventure.

The crash of the stock market or the declaration of war have set many a story in motion. Often the Herald is simply a means of bringing news to the hero of a new energy that will change the balance. It could be a telegram or a phone call. In High Noon, the Herald is a telegraph clerk who brings Gary Cooper word that his enemies are out of jail and headed for town to kill him. In Romancing the Stone, the Herald for Joan Wilder is a treasure map that arrives in the mail, and a phone call from her sister, who is being held hostage in Colombia. In some stories the Herald is the villain or his emissary, perhaps issuing a direct challenge to the hero, or trying to dupe the hero into getting involved.

In the thriller Arabesque, the Herald is the private secretary of the villain who tries to lure the hero, a college professor of modest means, into danger with a tempting offer of work. In some cases, a villainous Herald may announce the challenge not to the hero but to the audience. In Star Wars the first appearance of Darth Vader, as he captures Princess Leia, proclaims to the audience that something is out of balance before the hero, Luke Sky walker, has even appeared. In other stories the Herald is an agent of the forces of good, calling the hero to a positive adventure.

A Mentor frequently acts as a Herald who issues a challenge to the hero.

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The Herald archetype may come into play at almost any point in a story, but is most frequently employed in Act One to help bring the hero into the adventure. Whether it is an inner call, an external development, or a character bringing news of change, the energy of the Herald is needed in almost every story. Its appearance and characteristics change as soon as you examine it closely.

Nonetheless, the Shapeshifter is a powerful archetype and understanding its ways can be helpful in storytelling and in life. We have all experienced relationships in which our partner is fickle, two-faced, or bewilderingly changeable. In Fatal Attraction the hero is confronted with a Shapeshifting woman who changes from a passionate lover to an insane, murderous harpy. Shapeshifters change appearance or mood, and are difficult for the hero and the audience to pin down. They may mislead the hero or keep her guessing, and their loyalty or sincerity is often in question.

An Ally or friend of the same sex as the hero may also act as a Shapeshifter in a buddy comedy or adventure. Wizards, witches, and ogres are traditional Shapeshifters in the world of fairy tales. The anima is the corresponding female element in the male unconscious. In this theory, people have a complete set of both male and female qualities which are necessary for survival and internal balance.

Historically, the female characteristics in men and the male characteristics in women have been sternly repressed by society. Men learn at an early age to show only the macho, unemotional side of themselves. Women are taught by society to play down their masculine qualities. This can lead to emotional and even physical problems.

Men are now working to regain some of their suppressed feminine qualities—sensitivity, intuition, and the ability to feel and express emotion. Women sometimes spend their adult lives trying to reclaim the male energies within them which society has discouraged, such as power and assertiveness. These repressed qualities live within us and are manifested in dreams and fantasies as the animus or anima. They may take the form of dream characters such as opposite-sex teachers, family members, classmates, gods or monsters who allow us to express this unconscious but powerful force within.

An encounter with the anima or animus in dreams or fantasy is considered an important step in psychological growth. By nature we look for people who match our internal image of the opposite sex. Often we imagine the resemblance and project onto some unsuspecting person our desire to join with the anima or animus.

We may fall into relationships in which we have not seen the partner clearly.


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Instead we have seen the anima or animus, our own internal notion of the ideal partner, projected onto the other person. We often go through relationships trying to force the partner to match our projection. Hitchcock created a powerful expression of this phenomenon in Vertigo. James Stewart forces Kim Novak to change her hair and clothing to match the image of his feminine ideal Carlota, a woman who ironically never existed in the first place.

Often our main experience of the opposite sex is their changeability and their tendency to shift attitudes, appearances, and emotions for no apparent reason. Women complain that men are vague, vacillating, and unable to commit. Men complain that women are moody, flighty, fickle, and unpredictable. Anger can turn gentle men into beasts. Women change dramatically during their monthly cycle, shifting with the phases of the moon. During pregnancy they drastically shift shape and mood. The animus and anima may be positive or negative figures who may be helpful to the hero or destructive to him.

The Shapeshifter archetype is also a catalyst for change, a symbol of the psychological urge to transform. Dealing with a Shapeshifter may cause the hero to change attitudes about the opposite sex or come to terms with the repressed energies that this archetype stirs up. These projections of our hidden opposite sides, these images and ideas about sexuality and relationships, form the archetype of the Shapeshifter. Is she going to betray me?

Does he truly love me? Is he an ally or an enemy? Shapeshifters appear with great frequency and variety in the film noir and thriller genres. The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, and Chinatown feature detectives confronting Shapeshifting women whose loyalty and motives are in doubt. A common type of Shapeshifter is called the femme fatale, the woman as temptress or destroyer. Black Widow and Single White Female are interesting variants in which afemalehero confronts a deadly, Shapeshifting femme fatale.

The Shapeshifter, like the other archetypes, can be manifested by male or female characters. There are as many homines fatales in myth, literature, and movies as there are femmes. In Greek mythology, Zeus was a great Shapeshifter, changing forms to cavort with human maidens who usually ended up suffering for it.

Looking for Mr. Goodbar is about a woman seeking a perfect lover, but finding instead a Shapeshifting man who brings her death. The fatale aspect is not always essential to this archetype. Shapeshifters may only dazzle and confuse the hero, rather than try to kill her. Shapeshifting is a natural part of romance. The character played by Michael Douglas in Romancing the Stone appears to be a Shapeshifter to hero Kathleen Turner, who is kept guessing until the last moment about the loyalty of her male counterpart. Shapeshifting may manifest in changes of appearance. This archetype may also be expressed through changes in behavior or speech, such as assuming different accents or telling a succession of lies.

In the thriller Arabesque, Shapeshifter Sophia Loren tells unwilling hero Gregory Peck a bewildering series of stories about her background, all of which turn out be untrue. Many heroes have to deal with Shapeshifters, male and female, who assume disguises and tell lies to confuse them. Proteus changes into a lion, a snake, a panther, a boar, running water, and a tree in his attempt to escape. But Menelaus and his men hold on tight until Proteus returns to his true form and yields up the answers to their questions. The story teaches that if heroes are patient with Shapeshifters the truth may eventually come out.

A hero may wear the mask in a romantic situation. He temporarily acts as a Shapeshifter although he is the hero of the piece. Sometimes a hero must become a Shapeshifter to escape a trap or get past a Threshold Guardian. Villains or their allies may wear the Shapeshifter mask to seduce or confuse a hero. The wicked queen in Snow White assumes the form of an old crone to trick the hero into eating a poisoned apple. Shapeshifting is also a natural attribute of other archetypes such as Mentors and Tricksters. The goddess Athena in The Odyssey assumes the appearance of many different humans to help Odysseus and his son.

Often one is more conventionally heroic and easier for the audience to identify with. The second character, while of the same sex as the main hero, will often be a Shapeshifter, whose loyalty and true nature are always in question. The Shapeshifter is one of the most flexible archetypes and serves a protean variety of functions in modern stories. The qualities we have renounced and tried to root out still lurk within, operating in the Shadow world of the unconscious.

The Shadow can also shelter positive qualities that are in hiding or that we have rejected for some reason. The negative face of the Shadow in stories is projected onto characters called villains, antagonists, or enemies. Villains and enemies are usually dedicated to the death, destruction, or defeat of the hero. Antagonists and heroes in conflict are like horses in a team pulling in different directions, while villains and heroes in conflict are like trains on a head-on collision course.

Deep trauma or guilt can fester when exiled to the darkness of the unconscious, and emotions hidden or denied can turn into something monstrous that wants to destroy us. If the Threshold Guardian represents neuroses, then the Shadow archetype stands for psychoses that not only hamper us, but threaten to destroy us. The Shadow may simply be that shady part of ourselves that we are always wrestling with in struggles over bad habits and old fears. This energy can be a powerful internal force with a life of its own and its own set of interests and priorities.

It can be a destructive force, especially if not acknowledged, confronted, and brought to light. Thus in dreams, Shadows may appear as monsters, demons, devils, evil aliens, vampires, or other fearsome enemies. Note that many Shadow figures are also shapeshifters, such as vampires and werewolves. Shadows create conflict and bring out the best in a hero by putting her in a lifethreatening situation. The challenging energy of the Shadow archetype can be expressed in a single character, but it may also be a mask worn at different times by any of the characters.

Heroes themselves can manifest a Shadow side. When the protagonist is crippled by doubts or guilt, acts in self-destructive ways, expresses a death wish, gets carried away with his success, abuses his power, or becomes selfish rather than self-sacrificing, the Shadow has overtaken him. Like the other archetypes, the Shadow is a function or mask which can be worn by any character. The primary Mentor of a story may wear the Shadow mask at times. But in terms of the life-and-death heart of the story, Gossett is also a Shadow who is trying to destroy Gere by driving him out of the program.

He tests the young man to the limit to find out if he has what it takes, and almost kills him in the process of bringing out the best in him. Another strong combination of archetypes is found in the fatal Shapeshifter figures discussed earlier. A Shadow may also wear the masks of other archetypes.

Shadows may become seductive Shapeshifters to lure the hero into danger. They may function as Tricksters or Heralds, and may even manifest heroic qualities.

a writers journey by christopher vogler's the hero's journey

Villains who fight bravely for their cause or experience a change of heart may even be redeemed and become heroes themselves, like the Beast in Beauty and the Beast. They are even more deliciously sinister because of their dashing, powerful, beautiful, or elegant qualities. Shadows can also be humanized by making them vulnerable. The novelist Graham Greene masterfully makes his villains real, frail people. He often has the hero on the verge of killing a villain, only to discover the poor fellow has a head cold or is reading a letter from his little daughter.

Suddenly the villain is not just a fly to be swatted but a real human being with weaknesses and emotions. Killing such a figure becomes a true moral choice rather than a thoughtless reflex. Beware the man who believes the end justifies the means. A Shadow may be a character or force external to the hero, or it may be a deeply repressed part of the hero. Jekytt and Mr. External Shadows must be vanquished or destroyed by the hero.

Shadows of the internal kind may be disempowered like vampires, simply by bringing them out of the Shadows and into the light of consciousness. Some Shadows may even be redeemed and turned into positive forces. All his wickedness is finally forgiven, making him a benign, ghostly figure, watching over his son. The Terminator also grows from being a killing machine bent on destroying the heroes in The Terminatorto being a protective Mentor to the heroes in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Like the other archetypes, Shadows can express positive as well as negative aspects. But healthy anger or grief, if suppressed in the territory of the Shadow, can turn to harmful energy that strikes out and undermines us in unexpected ways. The Shadow may also be unexplored potential, such as affection, creativity, or psychic ability, that goes unexpressed. The psychological concept of the Shadow archetype is a useful metaphor for understanding villains and antagonists in our stories, as well as for grasping the unexpressed, ignored, or deeply hidden spects of our heroes.

All the characters in stories who are primarily clowns or comical sidekicks express this archetype. The specialized form called the Trickster Hero is the leading figure in many myths and is very popular in folklore and fairy tales. They cut big egos down to size, and bring heroes and audiences down to earth. By provoking healthy laughter they help us realize our common bonds, and they point out folly and hypocrisy.

Above all, they bring about healthy change and transformation, often by drawing attention to the imbalance or absurdity of a stagnant psychological situation. They are the natural enemies of the status quo. Trickster energy can express itself through impish accidents or slips of the tongue that alert us to the need for change.

When we are taking ourselves too seriously, the Trickster part of our personalities may pop up to bring back needed perspective. Tricksters may be servants or Allies working for the hero or Shadow, or they may be independent agents with their own skewed agendas. The Tricksters of mythology provide many examples of the workings of this archetype. One of the most colorful is Loki, the Norse god of trickery and deceit. A true Trickster, he serves the other gods as legal counselor and advisor, but also plots their destruction, undermining the status quo.

He is fiery in nature, and his darting, elusive energy helps heat up the petrified, frozen energy of the gods, moving them to action and change. He also provides much-needed comic relief in the generally dark Norse myths. Loki is sometimes a comical sidekick character in stories featuring the gods Odin or Thor as heroes. In other stories he is a hero of sorts, a Trickster Hero who survives by his wits against physically stronger gods or giants. At last he turns into a deadly adversary or Shadow, leading the hosts of the dead in a final war against the gods.

These stories pit the defenseless but quick-thinking rabbit against much larger and more dangerous enemies: folktale Shadow figures like wolves, hunters, tigers, and bears. Somehow the tiny rabbit always manages to outwit his hungry opponent, who usually suffers painfully from dealing with a Trickster Hero.

The modern version of the rabbit Trickster is of course Bugs Bunny. Mickey Mouse started as an ideal animal Trickster, although he has matured into a sober master of ceremonies and corporate spokesman. Native Americans have a particular fondness for Tricksters such as Coyote and Raven. The clown Kachina gods of the Southwest are Tricksters of great power as well as comic ability. Sometimes a Trickster like the Hare will try to take advantage of a weaker, slower animal like Mr. Tricksters like to stir up trouble for its own sake. Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop displays Trickster energy as he stirs up the existing system without changing much himself.

Heroes of other genres must often put on the Trickster mask in order to outwit a Shadow or get around a Threshold Guardian. The archetypes are an infinitely flexible language of character. They offer a way to understand what function a character is performing at a given moment in a story.

Awareness of the archetypes can help to free writers from stereotyping, by giving their characters greater psychological verity and depth. The archetypes can be used to make characters who are both unique individuals and universal symbols of the qualities that form a complete human being.

They can help make our characters and stories psychologically realistic and true to the ancient wisdom of myths. The opening of any story, be it myth, fairy tale, screenplay, novel, short story, or comic book, has some special burdens to bear. A beginning is, indeed, a delicate time. Look around, sister, brother of the Home Tribe.

Times are bad and the country all around seems lifeless. The people grow weak before our eyes, but a few of us are filled with restless energy. Like you. The title? The first line of dialogue? The first image? Where in the lives of your characters will the story actually begin? Do you need a prologue or introduction, or should you jump right into the middle of the action?

The opening moments are a powerful opportunity to set the tone and create an impression. You can conjure up a mood, an image, or a metaphor that will give the audience a frame of reference to better experience your work. The mythological approach to story boils down to using metaphors or comparisons to get across your feelings about life. The great German stage and film director Max Reinhardt believed that you can create an atmosphere in a theatre well before an audience sits down or the curtain goes up. A carefully selected title can strike a metaphor that intrigues the audience and attunes them to the coming experience.

Good promotion can engage them with images and slogans that are metaphors for the world of your story. By controlling music and lighting as the audience enters the space, and consciously directing such details as the attitudes and costumes of the ushers, a specific mood can be created. The audience can be put in the ideal frame of mind for the experience they will share, prepared for comedy, romance, horror, drama, or whatever effect you wish to create. These signals can cue the listeners to the funny, sad, or ironic mood of the story they will hear.

Today many elements go into making those first impressions before the book or the movie ticket is bought; the title, the book cover art, publicity and advertising, posters and trailers, and so forth. The story is cooked down to a few symbols or metaphors that begin to put the audience in the right mood for the journey.

A good title can become a multi-leveled metaphor for the condition of the hero or his world. The title of The Godfather, for example, suggests that Don Corleone is both god and father to his people. The graphic design of the logo for the novel and movie lays out another metaphor, the hand of a puppeteer working the strings of an unseen marionette. Is Don Corleone the puppeteer, or is he the puppet of a higher force?

Are we all puppets of God, or do we have free will? The metaphoric title and imagery allow many interpretations and help to make the story a coherent design. It can be a visual metaphor that, in a single shot or scene, conjures up the Special World of Act Two and the conflicts and dualities that will be confronted there. It can suggest the theme, alerting the audience to the issues your characters will face. His relationship with his wife and the way she changed him are rnajor themes in the story. The image of a man digging a grave outside his house can be read as an apt metaphor for the plot: The hero leaves home and journeys to the land of death, where he witnesses death, causes death, and almost dies himself.

Eastwood the director returns to the same setup at the end of the film, using the image to give a sense of closure as we see the man leave the grave and return to his home. PROLOGUE Some stories begin with a prologue section that precedes the main body of the story, perhaps before the introduction of the main characters and their world. Myths take place within a context of mythical history that goes back to the Creation, and events leading up to the entrance of the main character may have to be portrayed first.

Shakespeare and the Greeks often gave their plays a prologue, spoken by a narrator or a chorus, to set the tone and give the context of the drama. It may give an essential piece of backstory, cue the audience to what kind of movie or story this is going to be, or start the story with a bang and let the audience settle into their seats. In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a prologue shows the discovery of a mysterious squadron of World War II airplanes, perfectly preserved in the desert.

This precedes the introduction of the hero, Roy Neary, and his world.

The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler

It serves to intrigue the audience with a host of riddles, and gives a foretaste of the thrills and wonder ahead. In The Last Boy Scout a prologue shows a pro football player going berserk and shooting his teammates under the pressure of drugs and gambling. It signals that this is going to be an exciting action story involving life-and-death matters. This prologue and the one in Close Encounters are a little disorienting.

They hint that these movies are going to be about extraordinary events that may strain Credibility. In secret societies, an old rule of initiation is: Disorientation leads to suggestibility. In stor-ytelling, getting the audience a little off-base and upsetting their normal perceptions can put them into a receptive mood.

They begi n to suspend their disbelief and enter more readily into a Special World of fantasy. Some prologues introduce the villain or threat of the story before the hero appears. Some detective films begin with a murder before the hero is introduced in hus office. Such prologues cue the audience that the balance of a society has been disturbed. A chain of events is set in motion, and the forward drive of the story cannot cease until the wrong has been righteci and the balance restored.

The Writer's Journey and Mythic Structure with Christopher Vogler

A prologue is not necessary or desirable in every case. The needs of the story will always dictate the best approach to structure. The Special World of the story is only special if we can see it in contrast to a mundane world of everyday affairs from which the hero issues forth. The Ordinary World is the context, home base, and background of the hero. The Ordinary World in one sense is the place you came from last.

In life we pass through a succession of Special Worlds which slowly become ordinary as we get used to them. They evolve from strange, foreign territory to familiar bases from which to launch a drive into the next Special World. In the thriller Dead Again, the Ordinary World of modern day is shot in color to contrast with the nightmarish black-and-white Special World of the s flashbacks. City Slickers contrasts the drab, restrictive environment of the city with the more lively arena of the West where most of the story takes place. Compared to the Special World, the Ordinary World may seem boring and calm, but the seeds of excitement and challenge can usually be found there.

Romancing the Stone begins with a clever foreshadowing technique. The first thing the audience sees is an elaborate fantasy of a noble heroine battling sleazy villains and finally riding off to romance with a comically idealized hero. The scene is a model of the Special World Joan Wilder will encounter in the second act. The opening fantasy sequence serves a dual purpose.

It tells us a great deal about Joan Wilder and her unrealistic notions of romance, and also predicts the problems and situations she will face in the Special World of Act Two, when she encounters real villains and a less than ideal man.


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  • Foreshadowing can help unify a story into a rhythmic or poetic design. Every good story poses a series of questions about the hero. Will she achieve the goal, overcome her flaw, learn the lesson she needs to learn? Some questions relate primarily to the action or plot. Will Dorothy get home from Oz?

    Will the hero get the gold, win the game, beat the villains? In Pretty Woman, will the uptight businessman Edward learn from the prostitute Vivian how to relax and enjoy life? The action questions may propel the plot, but the dramatic questions hook the audience and involve them with the emotions of the characters. In developing fairy tales for Disney Feature Animation, we often find that writers can give the heroes a good outer problem: Can the princess manage to break an enchantment on her father who has been turned to stone?

    Can Gretel rescue Hansel from the Witch? But sometimes writers neglect to give the characters a compelling inner problem to solve as well. Characters without inner challenges seem flat and uninvolving, however heroically they may act. They need an inner problem, a personality flaw or a moral dilemma to work out.

    They need to learn something in the course of the story: how to get along with others, how to trust themselves, how to see beyond outward appearances. Audiences love to see characters learning, growing, and dealing with the inner and outer challenges of life. What is he doing the first time we see him, when he makes his entrance? What is he wearing, who is around him, and how do they react to him? What is his attitude, emotion, and goal at the moment? Does he enter alone or join a group, or is he already on stage when the story begins? Does he narrate the story, is it told through the eyes of another character, or is it seen from the objective eye of conventional narrative?

    Even if a character is written as already on stage when the lights come up, the actor will often make an entrance out of it by how she first impresses an audience with her appearance and behavior. As writers we can give our heroes an entrance by thinking about how the audience first experiences them. What are they doing, saying, feeling?

    What is their context when we first see them?

    The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition

    Are they at peace or in turmoil? Are they at full emotional power or are they holding back for a burst of expression later? Most important is: What is the character doing at the moment of entrance? The first behavior we see should be characteristic. Tom Sawyer makes a vivid entrance into our imaginations because Samuel Clemens has painted such a character-revealing first look at his Missouri boy hero. The first time we see Tom he is performing a characteristic action, turning the rotten job of whitewashing the fence into a wonderful mind game. Tom is a con artist, but the con is thoroughly enjoyed by his victims.

    Actors stepping onto a stage and writers introducing a character are also trying to entrance the audience, or produce in them a trance-like state of identification and recognition. One of the magic powers of writing is its ability to lure each member of the audience into projecting a part of their ego into the character on the page, screen, or stage. If you are looking for a specif part number, please include it with your message. Translate This Website. International Translation Network.

    At the beginning of The Writer's Journey, Christopher Vogler asserts that "all stories consist of a few common structural elements found universally in myths, fairy tales, dreams, and movies. Others may imagine that since Vogler uses movies like the Star Wars trilogy and The Lion King to defend his mythological philosophy, he is, unwittingly, listing the reasons why Hollywood films of the last 20 years have been so unimaginative.

    But there's no doubt that Vogler's notion, based on psychological writings by Carl Jung and the mythmaking philosophy of Joseph Campbell, has been profoundly influential. Many screenwriters have used Vogler's volume to understand why certain scenarios sell, and to discover a blueprint for creating mythic stories of their own. In life, the shapeshifter represents change. The way other people or our perceptions of them keep changing. The opposite sex, the way people can be two-faced. Our own mischievous subconscious, urging us to change.

    Characters who help the hero through the change. Sidekicks, buddies, girlfriends who advise the hero through the transitions of life. Here are some of his top storytelling tips. Then the plane hits a fence and goes into the surrounding neighbourhood and through the local orphanage without ever taking off. The moral? Get into it as fast as you can. You must have a theme — a one-word statement that sums up what your story is about.

    Usually, this is a word from a list of human drives or qualities, such as love, trust, loyalty, ambition or faith. Knowing this one word will have a unifying effect on the whole work of art, governing the choices you make about how the story plays out. A story is a comparison or model of some aspect of human behaviour that the storyteller wants to isolate and study. The habit of active comparison is a survival mechanism fundamental to human nature. We will also try to avoid the mistakes of others, including the errors of downcast or foolish characters.

    A hero is not necessarily all-powerful and may even be a reluctant leader. Furthermore, the hero — like Pac Man — may be missing a wedge. He or she might not be a team player, might blame others all the time, or might be unable to forgive him or herself for a past action. If the hero fails the exam, the story becomes a tragedy. You may detest the hero in a story but he or she does have to be relatable, possessing a recognisable human quality or lack.

    In The Sopranos , for instance, Tony Soprano desperately wants to be good on some level, so we tend to forgive him his flaws. We all have umbilical cords that we want to hook up to things in life such as love, society, friends, clubs, or ideals. In films, people want to plug their cords into characters they like on screen. You have to relate to, align with, or be someone in a movie, although this may shift as the movie progresses.

    Once you know what the hero wants, you want it too. I wish something would happen for a change. A good story gives the hero his or her wishes but in a twisted, sadistic way, setting up obstacle after obstacle for the hero to overcome. Essential to this sadism is the Ordeal. Here, you are bringing another character into the drama: Death. According to Ziskin, you should already have expected an ending like the one the story gives you but you should not have known exactly how the story would end.

    A physiological reaction determines if something is good or not. By the time Vogler came to work on The Lion King , the team had already created a scene where the newborn Simba is held up and presented to the crowd. Vogler recalled that, in the Catholic Church, the light coming through the stained glass windows creates a halo around the priest.

    So he suggested incorporating that halo effect into the scene. It was the sort of idea that immediately felt right. Suddenly, all the animators in the meeting room, who have a habit of doodling and sketching the heads of the people in front of them, began drawing haloes around those heads. After all, a great artistic ambition is to do unexpected things.

    The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition
    The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition
    The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition
    The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition
    The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition
    The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition
    The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition

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