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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Do you use "The Hero's Journey", and if so have you always used it? If not have your sales improved since you started using it? Have you heard of the journey?
I am curious, and need to know how much attention I should pay to the journey for my next book? This is not totally self-indulgent I would think others would be interested also.
Ann.
 

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No, I don't use it and I avoid novels and movies that use it like the plague.
 

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You mean like the Joseph Campbell story structure of childhood, rupture, embarking, travails, boon, return? If so, many stories go along those lines to some extent because it appeals to human nature. However, some variety in those steps is appreciated, as people have been doing stories that way since before Homer, and is often ham-fisted. I don't conscientiously follow it, though I suspect anyone could read it into my stories in some manner.

Or, do you mean a self-help author's voice sort of thing? In which case, then I don't know what you mean, but I am happy to learn... :D
 

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Anyone who reads a lot knows the basic steps, but I think writers should do their own variations. Hollywood made it into a formula and has overdone it if you ask me. Script writers are asked to follow it as if there is no other plot structure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yes Anne, I am referring to the Joseph Campbell model. There are some slightly altered versions of it floating around. JR how do you know the author has used that model before you read it?
Ann
 

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I read a lot of Campbell's theory when I was young, and so I suppose I internalized it.  But I have never used it consciously, and I don't tend to write the kind of stuff that obviously fits it -- so I have no idea how much I use it.

Camille
 

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Like any writing tool, it all depends on the exposition. I have used it for editing, though, not first drafting. And not slavishly. The only thing I do slavishly is hunt for typos.
 
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Oh man--I LOOOVE the Hero's Journey and use it all the time...but not in the ways you might expect.

I never use it when writing a rough draft; I just let the story come naturally and follow it where it takes me. When revising, though, I analyze what I've written and see how it fits the archetypes. Surprisingly, it usually does. I then use the monomyth as a rough model to help me make connections and draw the story out, not as a formula but as a general pattern. And then things REALLY start to fall into place, and the story becomes more and more awesome, and...

Man, I'd better stop before I get carried away. But if you're looking for a good monomyth-related resource, I would highly recommend Dan Well's 7 point system. He did a presentation at LTUE a couple years ago; you can find the video of it
and the powerpoint on his site here.
 

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I don't know if anyone has to read Campbell to internalize it. His argument was that this is a story structure that comes naturally to humans, so it might not be conscious at all for people.

But I think the process of following a character from green youth to returning hero is a little classical for my stories - though I do like reading Bildungsroman, especially old ones. I think postmodernity has foiled the classic "from innocence to wisdom" path since innocence is a pretty rare trait in young adults. I guess the story from optimistic to jaded would be today's version.  
 

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Yes. I use both Campbell's and Vogler's versions as a basic primer. Neither is supposed to be followed slavishly, but they're good starting points for structure/arcs. The bird's-eye view of them can be very helpful.

They have nothing to do with sales per se.
 

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anne_holly said:
I don't know if anyone has to read Campbell to internalize it. His argument was that this is a story structure that comes naturally to humans, so it might not be conscious at all for people.
Yes, this. The whole point is that you don't consciously use it as a model when you construct a story. It's something that bubbles up out of our "collective subconscious" as humans, if you believe in that sort of thing. I used to teach a college course on The Heroes Journey for creative writers. One of the texts I assigned is Christopher Vogler's "The Writer's Journey--Mythic Structure for Writers." I highly recommend it. Going to the source (Campbell) is always good, but Vogler really cuts to the chase.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
There is a new book out called "Story Engineering" by Larry Brooks. I am reading it now. The thing that bothers me about it is that when I pulled up thrillers previously written by this author they weren't selling any better than mine. The "Story" book has a lot of good reviews and is under 1,000 in ranking. He also has a blog. I do have Volger's book and I think I have Campbell as well.
Thanks for that Video, Joe.
Ann 
 

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To be perfectly honest, I value the Hero's Journey model less and less as a writer's tool.  There are a lot of pitfalls.  Some people get too hung up on including every step of the classic Hero's journey. (Oh no! My book doesn't include the meeting the Wise Old Man/Woman scene!).  Or they fret over including an exhaustive list of archetypes.  Campbell/Vogler stress that characters can exhibit multiple archetype traits, but many people don't realize this.  

You've processed thousands of stories in your lifetime. You really know all the broad strokes in your head.  It's like I tell my advanced karate students: your body already knows what to do. Stop overthinking so much and let it do its job!  :)

That said, I find the whole collective storytelling model incredibly fascinating.  We really do tell the same, basic story over and over.
 

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Can't say that I have. Not that there's anything wrong with it per se... it just doesn't really fall into what I'm trying to do.
 

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I had a hard time with Vogler's book.

The book that directly impacted me and led to No Limit was Robert McKee's Story. Even though it's geared toward screenwriting, I can't say enough about how it churned up my mental juices and got a pretty decent story out of me.
 

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I found Vogler's book useful. The pattern is in the back of my mind when I create a story arc, but I don't like writing to formula. I tend to see how the story unfolds, then go back and tighten it. Elements of the hero's journey are present in all stories, whether the author is aware of it or not.
 

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The first book of my trilogy is titled The Journey, so I suppose it's a Yes. :D

I can't say that I consciously follow this model, but some of my stories have elements of it. As others have mentioned, it's just something that appeals to human nature. Many books use this approach, at least partly.
 

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We used Vogler's book in a screenwriting workshop a few years back. It was the first time I was officially exposed to Campbell.

What amazed me was how much the stories I had written pre-Campbell already conformed to that model. It definitely made me believe he was on to something.

WPG


 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
It's interesting that a lot of you use it, or you are at least aware of it. it seems only one person was totally against it. Of course this is a very small sample.

Ann
 

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P.A. Woodburn said:
Yes Anne, I am referring to the Joseph Campbell model. There are some slightly altered versions of it floating around. JR how do you know the author has used that model before you read it?
Ann
You don't always, but it is often obvious from reviews that the author is using that worn out old formula. (On occasion a director/producer will even admit it/brag about it as though using a formula is a good thing)

As has been mentioned, there are parts of the "Campbell model" that are a natural part of western storytelling, but when it was turned into a formula that was then massively adopted, it did some pretty horrid things to movie making and, to a lesser degree, to writing.

Edit: For example, I hate the whole "mentor" thing. Most heroes don't have one but you see it forced into story after story because Campbell said so. Nor do I buy the "7 archtypes" thing which is a prescription for a cardboard cutout character. Blech.

If I had wanted to live by formulae I would have taken up chemistry.
 
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