Based on Joesph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” Vogler’s “The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers is a popular screenwriting textbook.
Vogler focuses on the theory that most stories can be boiled down to a series of narrative structures and character archetypes based on mythological allegory. An allegory is a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning. Allegories typically have two layers of meaning, the characters and plot happening on the page, and the symbolic deeper meaning that lives in the overall theme. Think parables, fables, and narrative analogies.
Vogler’s Writer’s Journey begins with 8 detailed archetypes.
The first part of the book describes eight major character archetypes in detail:
- Hero: someone who is willing to sacrifice his own needs on behalf of others.
- Mentor: all the characters who teach and protect heroes and give them gifts.
- Threshold Guardian: a menacing face to the hero, but if understood, they can be overcome
- Herald: a force that brings a new challenge to the hero.
- Shapeshifter: characters who change constantly from the hero’s point of view.
- Shadow: character who represents the energy of the dark side.
- Ally: someone who travels with the hero through the journey, serving variety of functions.
- Trickster: embodies the energies of mischief and desire for change.
The second part describes twelve stages of the Hero’s journey:
- The Ordinary World: the hero is seen in his/her everyday life.
- The Call to Adventure: the initiating incident of the story.
- Refusal of the Call: the hero experiences some hesitation to answer the call.
- Meeting with the Mentor: the hero gains the supplies, knowledge, and confidence needed to commence the adventure.
- Crossing the First Threshold: the hero commits wholeheartedly to the adventure.
- Tests, Allies and Enemies: the hero explores the special world, faces trial, and makes friends and enemies.
- Approach to the Innermost Cave: the hero nears the center of the story and the special world.
- The Ordeal: the hero faces the greatest challenge yet and experiences death and rebirth.
- Reward: the hero experiences the consequences of surviving death.
- The Road Back: the hero returns to the ordinary world or continues to an ultimate destination.
- The Resurrection: the hero experiences a final moment of death and rebirth so he (or she) is pure when he reenters the ordinary world.
- Return with the Elixir: the hero returns with something to improve the ordinary world.
As you can see, Vogler’s Writer’s Journey seems less detailed and more detailed at the same time. Of the three journey’s, this is probably the one I would be least likely to use for an erotic novel unless there was a great deal of external conflict (subplot).
John Truby’s 22 Step Structure, another screenwriter, is up for tomorrow!