The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Writing and the Hero's Journey

  Writing and the Hero's Journey

The reason I like the Hero's Journey as story pattern is that it is the only story pattern that does triple duty:
1) It is a powerful and flexible way of looking at story itself.
2) It is the only story pattern that relates directly to the PROCESS of writing, as well as the product.
3) It is the only story pattern that relates to life itself.
4) Viewed as a life pattern, it represents the combined wisdom of all world cultures on the nature of life itself.

Therefore, as you delve into it, you learn to connect the external world of the writing with your own internal process. Everything you write teaches you about life, and everything you do in life makes you a better writer. The only down-side is that people often mistake a set of guidelines ("if you structure your events in this sequence, audiences worldwide will recognize your work as a `story'") with some kind of cookie-cutter miracle pattern ("story events MUST be organized in this way. This is the only way to do it.")

That is not the fault of the Hero's Journey, or any other story pattern. Art is a matter of self-expression, craft is the mastering of basics. Combine the two, and you have the road to mastery: Learn the rules, master the rules, then create by varying application of the rules.


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