The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition

The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition
The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition
Price: $16.90 FREE for Members
Type: eBook
Released: 1998
Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions
Page Count: 193
Format: pdf
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0941188701
ISBN-13: 9780941188708
User Rating: 5.0000 out of 5 Stars! (3 Votes)

Ian Frost | 5 out of 5 Stars!

Fixing a Story's Guts.

This is not a standard writing book. It is a problem solver and story editor.

Too many people look inside it and find formula. The problem with this is that, used as a formula, it will work exactly once and then all the other stories written to its beats will mirror the previous story and then the creative portion of the mind will rebel at having such fetters place upon it. Using it as formula is a certain road to ruin.

Where this book shines is when a writer has an outline or a partially finished manuscript, and parts of those do not work. Something is missing. Using the ideas presented here allow him to get under the story's hood and fix the broken piece or adjust the fuel mixture. For instance, most writers I have known could get their story out of the Ordinary World (a character's homebase) and then get stuck. There was one of two problems at fault there. In the first, they never took the time to develop the Setting (Extraordinary World) their characters would venture into. In the second, once they got their characters there, they would meander. For that I have found the idea of the "Road of Trials" or "Tests, Allies, & Enemies" a fascinating and satisfying way to get my characters to their Bleak Moments.

I have also found this book useful in analyzing novels and films. I see how others have created their works and where things work or do not work. For instance, the first "Harry Potter" book and "The Eye of the World" both follow a mythic structure and yet are wildly different stories. "American Gods" and "Gardens of the Moon" use very different structures from the first two novels, and yet they are as epic in their own ways; I see within them the ways that writers find divergent voices and story models.

There are those who would use the ideas found here verbatum to write something that they may think is original, but what will likely result is a mess of allegory and empty shells (need I say "Willow"?).

My own way of applying these ideas is to aid my outlining. Either I start with Characters who might hold certain positions (Hero, Herald) for a time, and then write a Journey as an outline. But mainly I create my characters and then write a full outline. Once I have a basic roadmap of where my story is headed I take out the Hero's Journey and see if any of the Roles or Journey Stages will improve them and help them get to where I need them in a more dramatic fashion.

A couple of notes:
1. The Shadow is the most misunderstood thought in this process. The Shadow should be an event, a force, a movement. One could save that the Shadow of "Gone with the Wind" is the Civil War; or of "Inherit the Wind" is ignorance; of life in the USSR as the Communist Party and/or the KGB; of "Star Wars" it is the Empire. Making a person into the Shadow creates a character who is dangerously unsympathetic and likely to derail a story. The Hero's enemy is their Nemesis; ala, in "Casablanca" Bogey's Nemesis is the Nazi officer, while Nazism and the War serve as the story's Shadows. A Nemesis can be made into an interesting character, while the Shadow as a character tends to devolve into pure (boring) Evil.
2. The Herald is there to announce major changes. He does not have to be human. For instance, in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" the newsreel in the movie house served as the pivotal Herald in the story.
3. Like the Herald, the Mentor does not have to be human. In "The Seven Samurai" the code of Bushido acts as Mentor. Similarly in "A Man for all Seasons" Thomas More's conscience is his Mentor. It can be a memory, a code, a religious ideal, a quote, or just about anything else.
4. Setting can be one of the most interesting CHARACTERS in any story. A great Special World can make a story come alive. "Tara", "Oz", Alcatraz, the house in "Rebecca", most of Agatha Christy's locales, "Middle Earth", the Tower of London. Do not ignore these; treat them as characters, with history and personality and you will be richly rewarded.

Last, I must admit that this book changed my life. It made me see in a different way and helped me heal my relationship with my father. It helped me find a path in life, as the mythic is the true element of life and everything else a temporary, chimeric miasma. Also, because of this wonderful guide I have completed every writing project that I have started.

Derek Rydall | 5 out of 5 Stars!

A Classic Writing Guide


I've read this book a number of times, as well as listened to Chris Vogler's lectures -- and every single time I come away with a deeper understanding of the hero's journey, the underlying mythic structure of stories, and some really useful insights into whatever story I'm developing at the time. But what's more, I'm always inspired with a greater awe of life itself.

I always find it interesting to see what others comment on in the reviews -- especially the more critical ones -- and I feel compelled to respond to some of them...

First of all, let me say that I completely respect everyone's opinion. We all have different paths, different styles, different tastes... But I think it is unfair and misleading to state that this book distills Campbell's work down into a formulaic writing style -- and that we would be better off just reading The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

Don't get me wrong, "Hero" is a great book and probably should be required reading in all writing courses, but it's a 400 page scholarly text with very broad applications. Saying we would be better off only reading that to improve our writing is like saying we would be better off reading the collective works of Newton in order to learn how to play baseball!

Using the Hero With a Thousand Faces, you could probably create a powerful book on relationships, family, business and, of course, the journey of life. What Vogler has done here is created a classic writing guide that shows us how to create stories with mythical power. It is an excellent adaptation of Campbell's source material. And while it teaches form, it never forces you into a formula.

I highly recommend it to all writers; to anyone involved in the creation of stories in any medium. Read it over and over. Watch movies, read stories, and try to notice the mythic structure in them. Let these ideas penetrate your subconscious -- where they can work on you, your writing, and even your life.

V. Jayne | 5 out of 5 Stars!

Daedalus DID help create the Minotaur (and this book is the best)


To "A reader" who posted on Oct. 22 1999 that "Vogler's assertion that Daedalus helped create the Minotaur (p.50, UK edition)" was incorrect, I'm sorry, but YOU are incorrect.

Queen Pasiphae commissioned Daedalus to create the wooden form of a cow, covered with cowskins, which Pasiphae then hid in, allowing the white bull to mount her. This union was the origin of the Minotaur.

And to all those people who are saying "read Campbell first" or "Campbell is better," I'd have to say that if you are a WRITER who is interested in developing your storytelling ability (not just someone interested in the historical or academic study of existing mythology), then this book is indispensable. AFTER reading this, THEN move on to Campbell, if you're so inclined. I own about 12 Joseph Campbell books, but I ALWAYS come back to The Writer's Journey when I'm "stuck" in my writing.

However, if you are NOT a writer but rather someone who IS interested in the historical or academic study of existing mythology, then skip this book because it was not written for you. This is the WRITER'S Journey.

It's the best book I've read on how to develop compelling storylines and characters, and how to "fix" an existing script that may be lacking in some areas.

Finally, to those who think that Vogler ripped off Joseph Campbell, it's hard to rip someone off when they give you their blessing and encouragement to keep doing exactly what you're doing. Campbell knew about and encouraged Vogler's work, and Vogler repeatedly acknowledges and praises Campbell throughout this book. In no way does he represent that the 7 archetypes and 12 stages of "the Journey" were his own creation.

He also repeatedly discourages the use of his book as a "formula."

So there.

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