Saturday, October 22, 2005
Writing the hero's journey: Towards a plot plan for NaNoWriMo
For those of us undertaking the adventure of writing a complete novel in 30 days, I am certain that prior planning will make the difference between a reasonable chance of success and no chance at all. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is rapidly approaching, and we've only got a little time left to prepare our Great American Novel.
I've sought out a little help from some writing books, one of the most helpful of which is The Writer's Journey. In it, Christopher Vogler has given us a concise distillation of the Hero's Journey from which to understand and develop our own unique plot lines. I plan on shamelessly using the 12 steps of the Hero's Journey to plot my novel. Since I've never written a complete novel before, the approach seems like an excellent exercise in thinking through all the things that need to happen structurally in a story and in filling the roles for the major players every story has. Besides, if I ever actually finish this project, I'll have a little experience in the basics from which to explore new ways of doing things, should I decide to go forward writing more novels. But that's getting ahead of myself.
According to Vogler, here are the 12 steps of the Hero's Journey:
1. Ordinary World
2. Call to Adventure
3. Refusal of the Call
4. Meeting With the Mentor
5. Crossing the First Threshold
6. Tests, Allies, Enemies
8. Supreme Ordeal
10. The Road Back
12. Return With the Elixir
For a little description about each of these stages in the journey, check out this site.
Now, to round out the cast of character archetypes/roles that can be found populating the narrative of the Hero's Journey:
3. Threshold Guardian
For a brief, if psychoanalytical, overview of these archetypes, check out this site.
The next step is to go through with a basic premise (sometimes called the 3-sentence plot summary or the back cover copy) and then flesh it out by describing the stages and archetypes and how they'll fit together in the story. Stay tuned...