Really, we need to take storytelling more seriously than this… which in an ironic twist means, this IS serious. Even when it’s hilariously rendered.
It’s also potentially confusing as hell. Which is why I write about it using what I believe to be more accessible, clearer terminology and modeling. It’s the same stuff. And why I’ve added some clarifications of my own at the end of this post.
You’ve heard of The Hero’s Journey.
Chances are you’ve studied it. Joseph Campbell gets credit for it (calls it a Monomyth, a term borrowed from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake), as presented in his book, The Hero With A Thousand Faces (1949… it didn’t hit the bestseller list until 1988 — there’s always hope — when PBS aired a special entitled The Power of Myth).
This is how it’s done, no matter how you label the parts. Notice that it’s flexible, something you can spin to your own needs (ie., some of the players in this story model can be embodied by a single character, serving different catalytic purposes).
The more we see it from different angles, the deeper it sinks in.
Thanks to Storyfix friend and frequent contributor Art Holcomb for this one. Watch, laugh and learn.
Here’s what The Hero’s Journey looks like as a graphic (from Wikipedia). The story begins at the top (12:00 noon position), progressing clockwise… literally.
A Few Thoughts on This
This model is not infallible or absolute, it is like most principles, general in nature. For example, the video says that the HERO is just an Average Joe. Not always true. That’s limiting, and you can come up with a library full of exception.
The HERALD has a role, and this mission trumps it actually being a character… it can come into the story in non-character ways. Because… the HERALD is the FIRST PLOT POINT. That mission IS a firm principle… how it enters the story is your call.
The MENTOR character… great idea. Hard to pull off, though, when your hero is a lone wolf. Don’t force this into the story because Joseph Campbell says to.
THRESHOLD GUARDIANS… are some combination of the villain and the villain’s henchmen, and/or any other form of antagonistic force. These often star in your Pinch Points.
SHAPE SHIFTER… when any character either reveals a hidden truth about themselves, including your villain. Useful as a mean of delivering a Plot Point or, more often, the Mid-Point, which is a great place for this.
SHADOW… that’s easy, that’s your main antagonist. The bad guy. The villain. The term applies when that character’s true nature and agenda has been veiled through the course of the story, only to be revealed when it matters. Which is often at the Second Plot Point.
As food for thought goes, you now have a virtual banquet of flavors and courses in front of you. Bon appetite!
The video shown here is from the great Glove and Boots Puppet Blog (I know I know, sounds… kinky… it’s not that), which posts most of its content on Youtube.
As you might have guessed, the guy in the framed picture on the wall behind the puppets in this video is Joseph Campbell.
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