Saturday, May 12, 2012

Outlining, Part 1--The Hero's Journey

The Hero’s Journey
Welcome to part 1 of my journey to outlining. If you missed my intro, take a look here.

The Hero’s Journey is one type of outline that I have taken classes on several times. It has always made sense, but I’d never understood how to apply it to my writing. Honestly, I wasn’t ready for the information.
Now, the more I learn about the Hero’s Journey, I can see how it can be useful in my writing. However, everyone is different and you have to find what works for you. I, myself, thought that this would be the method I would try. After the last conference I attended, I’m not so sure about that. I think I may use bits and pieces from a few different methods and make my own.
So, I am going to share my notes from the most recent class I attended on The Hero’s Journey from Annette Lyon (Thank you Annette for a great class!) at the LDStorymakers conference in May, as well as some links at the bottom of different versions of the Hero’s Journey.
Hero’s Journey
Annette Lyon
The Hero
  • audience has to ID with him/her
  • hero must grow
  • involved in most of the action
  • Must have a flaw
  • must sacrifice—maybe even be willing to sacrifice his or her life
The Mentor
  • teaches the hero
  • often gives hero a gift
  • motivates hero—may calm fears of give them a kick in the pants
  • can be a shape-shifter
Threshold Guardians
  • Anything/one who stands in the way of your hero
  • person, event, physical object
  • blocks hero’s way
  • tests the hero
  • can be good or bad
The Herald
  • issues the Hero the challenge
  • announces coming change: all is not well
  • gives Hero motivation to go on the adventure
  • person, object, or event
The Shape-Shifter
  • not what they appear to be
  • revealing “real” self creates big change.
  • good or evil
  • can be combined with another character
The shadow
  • the villain
  • tests hero’s abilities/worthiness
  • forces hero to rise to the challenge
  • often appears beautiful
  • elegant or good
  • Often a shape-shifter
  • comic relief
  • brings things into perspective
  • often a sidekick to Hero
The Ordinary World
  • whatever status quo
  • into story question
  • foreshadows special world
  • meet the Hero & problems
Call to Adventure
  • herald (in object or character to)
Refusal of the Call
  • hero refuses the call
  • why: fear or other excuses, maybe noble ones
meeting with the mentor
  • usually before the hero’s commitment
  • gets story moving
  • provides hero with training and/or helpful object that will help in the quest
crossing the first threshold
  • leaving ordinary world/entering special world
  • shows hero’s commitment to quest
  • for reluctant hero: quest is pushed on him
  • first threshold guardian
  • life will never be the same
tests, allies, and enemies (bulk of the story)
  • hero adjusts to the New World
  • hero gets tested in many ways
  • hero meets people (often in “watering holes”) must determine enemies vs. allies
  • gets sidekicks
  • gets rival
approach to the inmost cave
  • hero prepares for test, which will get him ready for the final ordeal
  • illusions, threshold guardians
  • hero uses lessons learned to get through
  • often enters a NEW special world
The Ordeal
  • Hero’s final exam
  • hero battles shadow
  • hero faces greatest fears
  • hero shows what’s been learned
  • hero must be willing to sacrifice something huge and/or die
  • hero often appears to die, or something or someone does die
Reward—seizing the Sword
  • hero captures or finds the treasure (elixir) or accomplishes whatever th point of the quest was
  • celebration (“campfire” scenes)
  • epipany: hero understands something he’s learned
The Road Back
  • not in a lot of stories
  • hero heads back to ordinary world w/elixir (object, wisdom, etc)
  • shadow may not be totally defeated, could still try to defeat the Hero
  • common time for chase scenes
  • hero runs into setbacks
  • hero has an ordeal that pushes him to the limit-often showdowns w/villain, a death and rebirth scene, etc
  • the ordeal has changed the hero in some big way, and we see that change in the resurrection scene
  • often the climax-hero overcomes final problems, defeats villain
Return with the Elixir
  • the story’s wrap-up denouement
  • characters receive rewards or punishments
  • wrap-up of plot threads, but often a surprise shows up
  • circular vs open endings
  • hero may leave; no longer belongs
  • elixir may be knowledge gained
So What?
Applying the H’s J to YOUR story
  • what’s your genre
  • character-type holes
  • moving the plot
  • boosting conflict
  • developing characters
See you next Saturday!
The Hero's Journey Outline from the Writer's Journey
The Hero's Journey from Read, Writer, Think (interactive)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your notes about my class!

    Something to think about in relation to outlining: I'm not a strict outliner. Not at all. I don't don't go by the seat of my pants, but I can't totally outline, either.

    So for me, the H's J isn't an outlining technique so much as a help to think in general terms of arc, and if I'm struggling with what comes next or what the core motivations/conflict/etc should be, I can turn to it for inspiration.

    Best of luck finding your sweet spot on the outlining/pantster spectrum!