The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Saturday, December 25, 2004

The Hero's Journal #9

The Hero Confronts Evil Victoriously.  This is the traditional reward for a character who makes it through the previous eight steps honorably and courageously.  Who has faith, good friends, works hard and long, and is clear on goals and values.  In other words, who has become a more mature human being.  Very rarely (no instance comes to mind quickly) where a character has all these things, does all these things, and still fails.  Remember--this is the sum total of world wisdom as displayed in literature myth and song throughout all human history.  This is the path of life.  When you are journaling, note the results you get (and have gotten) through time, and see which of these elements was present, which missing, at your greatest defeats and victories.  Come to your own conclusions about what is important in order to replicate past successes and avoid past disappointments.  SUCCESS LEAVES FOOTPRINTS.  Learn to detect them.  Hunt them down.  Understand them.   Don't just celebrate--stop and understand why you succeeded.  This will tie directly into how your characters fail or succeed in your stories.  You must have a philosophy of life that is explored in your work.  It need not be Ultimate Truth, but it has to hold water,  has to be strong enough for you to defend it from attacks from multiple directions.  Your entire view of the world should tie together so that you are continuously testing or expressing it.  When this is true, then your writing will have a special flavor, a tang that is your style, but more than style: it is your heart, your most preciuos view of life, exposed to the world.  And this is what will enable you to build a readership, or to live a life of integrity. You need not be right, but you have to take a stand somewhere, otherwise how will you ever learn which of your ideas makes sense?  Take a stand.  Express a philosophical point of view.  Begin to turn craft into art.

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