Thoughts on Mythic Structure: Return with the Elixir

This is the 11th and final post in my series on mythic structure, or monomyth.

1. After being reborn and purified through a resurrection experience, our hero finally returns from the Extraordinary World.

The journey has ended. The circle is complete. The hero has, in some sense, returned to the point where she started.

2. It is not unusual for heroes to find themselves waking up in the Ordinary World after their adventure in the Extraordinary World. Continue reading “Thoughts on Mythic Structure: Return with the Elixir”

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Thoughts on Mythic Structure: Resurrection

This is Part 10 of my series on mythic structure, or monomyth.

1. This stage is the climax of your story.

The Ordeal was the major crisis; now your hero is facing his final and most terrifying confrontation with death.

2. It is often a major set piece sequence. Continue reading “Thoughts on Mythic Structure: Resurrection”

Thoughts on Mythic Structure: The Road Back

This is Part 9 of my series on mythic structure, or monomyth.

1. The Road Back is the transition from Act 2 to Act 3 of your story.

The hero has completed her initiation and is now an evolved hero. It is time for her to begin her transition from the Extraordinary World back to the Ordinary World.

There’s still a long way to go, however. The road back is filled with more danger and challenges for the hero.

2. At this point, antagonists may have been completely vanquished . . . or not. Continue reading “Thoughts on Mythic Structure: The Road Back”

Thoughts on Mythic Structure: Reward/Seizing the Sword

This is Part 8 of my series on mythic structure, or monomyth.

1. After surviving the Ordeal, the hero now claims a reward.

The reward may come in many different forms: treasure, an object that helps the hero return home, a declaration of love/friendship, knowledge, power.

In The Wizard of Oz, this is the point where Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion claim their rewards from the Wizard in exchange for killing the Wicked Witch.

2. The “reward” may be something that has always been a part of the hero.

In The Wizard of Oz, the Wizard doesn’t literally bestow a brain, a heart, or courage. He instead makes the characters realize that they always had these things inside them. Emmet in The Lego Movie survives his Ordeal and emerges as a Master Builder – which is really just a realization of his own potential. Continue reading “Thoughts on Mythic Structure: Reward/Seizing the Sword”

Thoughts on Mythic Structure: Tests, Allies, and Enemies

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This is Part 5 of my series on monomyth or the hero’s journey.

1. After your hero crosses the threshold into the world of adventure, the rules of the new world are a good place to start when it comes to testing your hero. Here are some ways he can get into trouble right away:

Ignorance of the rules: For instance, in Back to the Future, Marty doesn’t realize at first that he has traveled back into the past. When he crashes the DeLorean into someone’s barn and emerges from it in a hazmat suit, he looks utterly alien to the family who own it. He is surprised to find himself on the business end of a shotgun and must find a way to escape.

Continue reading “Thoughts on Mythic Structure: Tests, Allies, and Enemies”

Thoughts on Mythic Structure: The Call to Adventure & Refusal of the Call

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This is Part 2 in my series on mythic structure, or the hero’s journey. I am combining the next two stages of the hero’s adventure, The Call to Adventure and Refusal of the Call, because they are so closely connected.

1. The call to adventure is issued by the herald archetype. This may be personified in a character i.e. Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games, the Tarleton brothers in Gone with the Wind, the droids in Star Wars: A New Hope. Or a herald can be an item such as the letter from Hogwarts in Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone, the dead body washed up on the beach in Jaws, or the burning bush in The Prince of Egypt. (For more on the herald archetype, please check out my previous article on the subject.) Continue reading “Thoughts on Mythic Structure: The Call to Adventure & Refusal of the Call”

Thoughts on Mythic Structure: The Ordinary World

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Now that I’ve finished my series about archetypes, I am beginning a new one about mythic structure.

Mythic structure is also known as “monomyth” and even more commonly as the hero’s journey. Mythologist Joseph Campbell described monomyth in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Film development executive Chris Vogler adapted and simplified many of Campbell’s ideas in his book The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. (I also like how Vogler modernized Campbell’s stages of the hero’s journey, making them less gender-specific.)

As with archetypes, there is some controversy over mythic structure, with the main complaint being that it results in clichéd and rote storytelling. But, as with archetypes, that only happens if you resort to clichéd and rote storytelling. Structure is a very important aspect of writing, whether it’s a novel or a screenplay. It’s necessary but also endlessly variable, which I hope to demonstrate in these articles about each stage of the hero’s journey. Continue reading “Thoughts on Mythic Structure: The Ordinary World”