Posts tagged writing resources
Posts tagged writing resources
The idea of the monomyth, also known as the hero’s journey, is so massively important as a method of storytelling across the globe and so completely integrated into our cultural consciousness, many writers create stories that fit into its norms without even realizing they’re doing it. We have seen this story layout hundreds of times, and yet it seems new with every retelling. The monomyth is so ubiquitous as to be universal while still rooting itself deeply into us as a story that each individual wants to be told.
If you’re a storyteller, the monomyth and its components are worth learning, so dig in!
1.) The Call to Adventure: The hero starts off in a mundane situation of normality from which some information is received that acts as a call to head off into the unknown.
2.) Refusal of the Call: Often when the call is given, the future hero first refuses to heed it. This may be from a sense of duty or obligation, fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy, or any of a range of reasons that work to hold the person in his or her current circumstances.
3.) Supernatural Aid: Once the hero has committed to the quest, consciously or unconsciously, his guide and magical helper appears, or becomes known. More often than not, this supernatural mentor will present the hero with one or more talismans or artifacts that will aid them later in their quest.
4.) The Crossing of the First Threshold: This is the point where the person actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or her world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are not known.
5.) Belly of the Whale: The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the hero’s known world and self. By entering this stage, the person shows willingness to undergo a metamorphosis.
6.) The Road of Trials: The road of trials is a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals that the person must undergo to begin the transformation. Often the person fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in threes.
7.) The Meeting with the Goddess: This is the point when the person experiences a love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all encompassing, unconditional love that a fortunate infant may experience with his or her mother. This is a very important step in the process and is often represented by the person finding the other person that he or she loves most completely.
8.) Woman as Temptress: In this step, the hero faces those temptations, often of a physical or pleasurable nature, that may lead him or her to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman. Woman is a metaphor for the physical or material temptations of life, since the hero-knight was often tempted by lust from his spiritual journey.
9.) Atonement with the Father: In this step the person must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life. In many myths and stories this is the father, or a father figure who has life and death power. This is the center point of the journey. All the previous steps have been moving in to this place, all that follow will move out from it. Although this step is most frequently symbolized by an encounter with a male entity, it does not have to be a male; just someone or thing with incredible power.
10.) Apotheosis: When someone dies a physical death, or dies to the self to live in spirit, he or she moves beyond the pairs of opposites to a state of divine knowledge, love, compassion and bliss. A more mundane way of looking at this step is that it is a period of rest, peace and fulfillment before the hero begins the return.
11.) The Ultimate Boon: The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the quest. It is what the person went on the journey to get. All the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the person for this step, since in many myths the boon is something transcendent like the elixir of life itself, or a plant that supplies immortality, or the holy grail.
12.) Refusal of the Return: Having found bliss and enlightenment in the other world, the hero may not want to return to the ordinary world to bestow the boon onto his fellow man.
13.) The Magical Flight: Sometimes the hero must escape with the boon, if it is something that the gods have been jealously guarding. It can be just as adventurous and dangerous returning from the journey as it was to go on it.
14.) Rescue from Without: Just as the hero may need guides and assistants to set out on the quest, oftentimes he or she must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if the person has been wounded or weakened by the experience.
15.) The Crossing of the Return Threshold: The trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world.
16.) Master of Two Worlds: This step is usually represented by a transcendental hero like Jesus or Gautama Buddha. For a human hero, it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The person has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds.
17.) Freedom to Live: Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live. This is sometimes referred to as living in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past.
These are Joseph Campbell’s 17 steps to the “hero’s journey”, or the monomyth. This is not a checklist, nor is it a blueprint. It’s…a guideline, if anything.
(Yes, yes, I’ve started reading The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Not to help me with my writing, but to look inside the human desire to go on adventures. It’s fascinating and is filling me to the brim with wanderlust.)
A few links for further research:
- TV Tropes’ Article on The Hero’s Journey
- Wikipedia’s Article on Monomyth
- ThinkQuest’s Article on The Heroic Monomyth
- Changing Minds’ Article on Campbell’s ‘Hero’s Journey’ Monomyth
- TedEd’s Video “What Makes a Hero?”
- Another Video on the Hero’s Journey/Monomyth
- The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
This guide published by Cambridge University details areas of difficulty and potential mistakes for those learning English as a second (or third, fourth, etc) language based on their native language. I found it immensely helpful when I was writing a native German speaker who spoke in English throughout the story.
Eplans.com is a website that sells blueprints for houses.
This might not seem that helpful but if you want a characters house you can make selections based on what sort of house you want them to live in.
Then browse through the results and find the house you want. Then you can view the blueprints and have a room layout for that house, which can help with visualising the space they live in.
It makes describing generic homes so much easier.
By Ginny Wiedhardt
This is AMAZING.
Not only does it have archetypes, it also details The Hero’s Journey, and other things. Very useful!
This is a really good article about how quickly people actually die from cuts and punctures inflicted by swords and knives. However, it’s really really long and I figured that since I was summarizing for my own benefit I’d share it for anyone else who is writing fiction…
Hey Sarah is this useful?
Indeed, thank you!
I dunno about you guys, but I hate cliches like ‘emerald green’, ‘obsidian’, or ‘sky blue’ when describing eye colors. Here are a couple of places I’d like to share to help prevent cliches in writing descriptive characters:
List of Colors (Wikipedia) - Goes into shades of colors in lower links
Checklist for character development.
Created by myself, compiled from questions gleaned from several sources, and some of my own additions.
It should be noted, that not every character will check every one of these things off. It is not REQUIRED to have all this information, but this checklist is, rather, a guideline for helping you think of your character as an entire, three dimentional being with thoughts, feelings, possessions, contradictions and background.
A character is 20% revealed to the reader, 80% writer/author/Mun knowledge. What the Reader sees is just the tip of the iceburg, but without the other 80% the character can’t help but come off feeling shallow. There’s nothing beneath the surface - KNOWING as much bout your character as possible, instrinsicly, in detail, intimately, can do nothing but help build believability and dimension to your character.
Use only the things on this list that you feel are important, but I would like to remind you that the reader learns a lot about a character NOT through exposition (that’s kind of a cheat, and always feels , to me, like a rather clunky way of conveying knowlege), but through their actions, quirks, thoughts, and even through the things they own and carry with them. What kind of food they eat and how they eat it. What they wear. What they carry in their wallets. I encourage you, as writers, to consider these things when creating a character, and encourage you MORE to leave the exposition out and tell us about your character through these other means!
If nothing else, this will give you a LOT to work with when writing with your character. Maybe it’ll spur you to write about the character’s parents. Or the relationship between them and their family. Maybe you’ll find yourself inspired to write something about how they lost everything in a fire - and the importance each remembered lost item held.
There is certainly no rule that says you HAVE to do it this way, but invariably, the most memorable characters are the ones that we as readers can relate with. It’s hard to relate with just words - but people - with beliefs and dreams and fears - that’s something we can get behind.
I certainly hope you find this useful, and since so many have been inclined to reblog and like this, I shall endeavor to add more character creation and writing tips, lists and excercises up on this blog!
I think this is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
So I’ve also decided to put up some writing tips here as well, to help give me a reference, and to help anyone else who may be interested. Here’s the first set, taken from writeitsideways.com. Be sure to click on the links for more detail.
101 of the Best Fiction Writing Tips, Part I
- Calling characters by their proper names in dialogue almost always sound phoney. 5 Creative Flaws that Will Expose Your Lack of Storytelling Experience.Storyfix
- There’s never a perfect time for writing, so stop waiting for it. Why There’ll Never Be a Perfect Time to Write. Daily Writing Tips
- Be selective about what you include in your story. You don’t need it all. Six Structural Problems Writers Face & How to Fix them. Beyond the Margins
- Increase the stakes for your characters to prevent sagging story middles.When Middles Sag. Writers in the Storm
- Use a waterproof dive slate to take notes in the shower. The Three Writing Tools I Can’t Live Without. Writer Unboxed
- Avoid extended dialogue without sufficient grounding. Five Openings to Avoid. Nathan Bransford
- To write a better book, write your query letter first. Write Your Query First for a Better Book. Writer Unboxed
- Bigger doesn’t mean better. Use simple words instead of deliberately choosing big words. Just Call It Freaking “Green” Already. Writer Unboxed
- Writer’s block might mean you’re trying to write something you’re not ready to write. Advice from Jonathan Franzen. Gotham Writers’ Workshop
- Epiphanies are overused in fiction, and can be boring. The Problem of the Eureka Moment. Beyond the Margins
- Your novel shouldn’t be a thinly-disguised memoir. 12 Signs Your Novel Isn’t Ready to Publish. Anne R. Allen
- Try to use all five senses when writing each scene of your book. 5 Tips for Writing Better Settings. Jody Hedlund
- Don’t describe silence as ‘deafening’. Things to Avoid [in Writing]. Glass Cases
- Prologues usually just encourage infodumps. Prologues–This Side of Hell.Behler Blog
- Using defense mechanisms can increase the tension between characters.Using Defense Mechanisms for Characters. Roni Loren’s Writing Blog
- Less is more when it comes to describing your characters. Why Less Detail Makes More Believable Characters. Plot to Punctuation
- In action scenes, vary sentence length and structure to increase or decrease speed and excitement. Tips on Writing Action Scenes. The Other Side of the Story
- Evaluate your story by defining its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. How to S.W.O.T. Your Story Over the Fence. Storyfix
- In first drafts, you don’t need to know everything. Use placeholders (like X) as reminders to research a detail later. First Draft Secrets: Five Simple Steps.Write to Done
- Sometimes the most important moments in dialogue is what isn’t said. What Isn’t Said: Subtext in Dialogue. Author Culture
- Try using an ambiguous ending to create a plot twist (often works well in short stories). 10 Ways to Create a Plot Twist. T.N. Tobias
- Avoid overused, obvious symbolism in your fiction. The Obvious Symbolism Police. Glass Cases
- Dialogue should reveal emotion through words, not adverbs (eg. “she said angrily”). Tips for Improving Dialogue In Your Novel. The Creative Penn
- Know everything about your characters’ backstories, but write about only 10% of it. Character Planning. Procrastinating Writers
- Your protagonist can’t be easily satisfied. He needs to want something badly. Can You Write a Publishable First Novel? Anne R. Allen’s Blog