Monday, September 28, 2009

The Call to Adventure

We've started looking at The Hero's Journey for our fantasy writing. This formula works for any genre, of course, but we're mainly talking about fantasy.

According to my book, the Journey has 12 stages.

1) Heroes are introduced in the ORDINARY WORLD, where
2) they recieve the CALL TO ADVENTURE.
3) They are RELUCTANT at first or REFUSE THE CALL, but
4) are encouraged by a MENTOR to
5) CROSS THE FIRST THRESHOLD and enter the Special World where
6) they encounter TESTS, ALLIES and ENEMIES.
7) They APPROACH THE INMOST CAVE, crossing a second threshold
8) where they endure the SURPEME ORDEAL.
9) They take possession of their REWARD and
10) are pursued on THE ROAD BACK to the Ordinary World.
11) They cross the third threshold, experience a RESURRECTION and are transformed by the experience.
12) They RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR, a boon or treasure to benefit the Ordinary World.

We've talked about the Ordinary World and Physical/Inward Journey. Christopher Vogler's book The Writer's Journey, breaks down these 12 steps, adding more detail. Vogler says, "The Hero's Journey is infinitely flexible, capable of endless variation without sacrificing any of its magic, and it will outlive us all." It is a map we can follow, taking our own turns and making what we want of it.

Let's look at the second step of THJ: The Call to Adventure. This is where the hero is presented with a problem, challenge or adventure to undertake. I like to call it a "quest." This mean he/she cannot remain in the Ordinary World. The Call to Adventure establishes the stakes of the game and makes clear the hero's goal.

Let's talk about The Call. How long do we spend there? How do we bring it about? Is The Call clear in your writing? Is The Call unique? If so, how can you give it a twist to make it less typical?

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Journey Itself

We talked a little about the ordinary world of our hero last week. And we all agreed it's important to show what's normal for the hero before he/she sets off on their adventure. It gives the reader an idea of what's at stake.

Here's a quote from Christopher Vogler's book about The Journey:

"... the hero's story is always a journey. A hero leaves his/her comfortable, ordinary surroundings to venture into a challenging, unfamiliar world."

Then it goes on to say, "... many stories take the hero on an inward journey, one of the mind, the heart, the spirit."

Let's talk about The Journey this week. What sort of journey is your hero/heroine on? Is it an outward one with a quest into a labyrinth, cave, forest or strange location? Or is it more inside the hero's character/mind?

Vogler says, "It's these emotional journeys that hook an audience and make a story worth watching."

I believe the Journey should be both. Fantasy readers expect the characters to set off on an impossible quest into strange and mystical places. But they also want to *feel* things along with the hero. How can we balance the physical with the emotional?

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Ordinary World

Welcome back, fantasy lovers! We had a nice break, but I'm looking forward to getting back into our discussion on writing fantasy.

I've been learning about The Hero's Journey, which all stories follow to some extent, but in fantasy it's necessary to pay closer attention to it. What IS the Hero's Journey? According to the book, The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler, the Hero's Journey contains "a few common structural elements found universally in myths, fairy tales, dreams and movies." He begins the book talking about mapping the journey in Three Acts.

Act One begins with the Ordinary World. Vogler says it's necessary to show your hero in normal life so when the Call to Adventure comes and the quest begins, you can "create a vivid contrast with the strange new world he (the hero) is about to enter." It's also needed to establish who the hero is and begin the character arc.

That makes perfect sense to me. The reader needs to know who the hero is without the new situation. Writers need to establish character and personality. We need to create a sense of caring what happens to the hero. Otherwise, why would the reader want to read on?

So, let's talk a bit about the Ordinary World. How do we set it up? How long should we stay there? How can we make it interesting? How much description should we use? I look forward to your comments.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Doug's blog

Greetings, fellow Fairies, Fantasy and Faith blog readers! Sorry to be a day late here. We're dealing with a huge problem at my autistic daughter's school and yesterday got away from me.

This week, I'd like to share Doug's blog with everyone.
Doug is a faithful reader of FFF and a fellow fantasy writer.

Next Monday is a holiday, so be looking for the fantasy writing discussion to continue on Monday, September 14th.

Enjoy the end of summer! The magical season of fall is almost upon us.