The Hero's Journey pt. 1: Story Arc

mythago

Hero
We were discussing that Campbell and well meaning academics try to shoehorn the monomyth model into places where it doesn't belong. Stories like The Big Lebowski and other non traditional narratives. I was saying it's great for hero stories and fantasy/sci fi, but doesn't work as well (if at all) in other areas. Your counterpoint in your words was that its "relationship to actual mythology is pret'near zero" which is an extremist take on the other side of the spectrum that I do not agree with. I'm somewhere in the middle.

I’m baffled why accurately pointing out that Campbell’s monomyth does not accurately reflect real-world myth is “extremist”. To me, “extremist” would be saying that Campbell’s views are actively harmful and should be scrubbed from all fiction going forward. I guess if you really like the guy’s stuff criticism is extremist?
 

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SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
I thought you might like to know that the roleplaying game EABA, by Greg Porter, discusses the Hero's Journey as a way to organize a campaign. It also has templates for different characters you see in those stories. It's not a huge part of the game, but I found it very interesting.
 

ThorinTeague

Creative/Father/Professor
I’m baffled why accurately pointing out that Campbell’s monomyth does not accurately reflect real-world myth is “extremist”. To me, “extremist” would be saying that Campbell’s views are actively harmful and should be scrubbed from all fiction going forward. I guess if you really like the guy’s stuff criticism is extremist?
You can criticize Campbell, doesn't really bother me. In fact like I said I was primarily working from Christian Vogler's book, as I find JC to be inaccessible and somewhat incoherent with what he writes.

But the hero's journey most definitely has some relevance, or significant relevance, to real world myths. Just because one cannot [reasonably] shoehorn every word of every myth into every little component of THJ does not render it useless. You can take that or leave it, I'm not out to "sell" anyone on THJ/Monomythic structure. I welcome differing opinions though [assuming we're not just slinging mud or beating chests, which we are not], they force me to understand why I think what I think. I thank you for your input.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
Writing a story is kinda backward, the opposite of the way a story unfolds.

Start with the desire. What do the heroes want? This is what the entire story is about. The end of the story, the Return with Elixer is the fulfillment of this desire. (At the start of the story, the heroes dont even know what they want yet. The Call to Adventure is when the heroes discover what it is that they want.)

What is it that is stopping them from fulfilling this desire? This obstruction is the villain or analogous adversity, that the heroes will face at the end of the story.

What is the ethical message − the moral of the story? This ethical message is exactly how the heroes will overcome the villain.
Thruout the entire story, every attempt to defeat the villain will fail, except for this ethical message. Indeed, the heroes will even be killed at the end of the story, figuratively or literally. In the Resurrection, it is the ethical message that wins, not the heroes themselves.

The Return with the Elixer is important, because the heroes fix the problem that prevented them from fulfilling their desire. They make the world a better place for everybody, so that others can achieve the same desire, without the ordeal that the heroes needed to go thru.
 

ThorinTeague

Creative/Father/Professor
Start with the desire. What do the heroes want?
My animation instructor in college once told us that “all stories are either, the main character wants something, or the main character wants to get rid of something.” My writing got better after that gem... 😍

He worked with Ray Harryhausen... and later on Flesh Gordon 2. 🤣
 

Hero's Journey is one structure that reminds of certain familiar pop culture stories like The Lord of the Rings, or maybe Star Wars. But it's far from a universal myth - Kishōtenketsu for example is an East Asian structure (consider the structure of many Studio Ghilbi films, for instance) and it's also been used by game designers such as Shigeru Miyamoto.
 

The-Magic-Sword

Small Ball Archmage
Hero's Journey is one structure that reminds of certain familiar pop culture stories like The Lord of the Rings, or maybe Star Wars. But it's far from a universal myth - Kishōtenketsu for example is an East Asian structure (consider the structure of many Studio Ghilbi films, for instance) and it's also been used by game designers such as Shigeru Miyamoto.
I'm actually not sure Kishotenketsu is distinct from the monomythy as outlined by Campbell, you still have a status quo that is disrupted by the events that take the character out of their comfort zone, and then both feature an exploration of that new reality and the character as they've been changed by the disruption of the status quo. Conflict in turn, isn't essential to the Monomyth, which the author of the article seems to know primarily in the somewhat reductionist context of the writing profession's vocational training. Nor does the monomyth demand that things be wrapped up neatly by the end, frequently featuring a discomfort where the hero can no longer be content with the life to which they return.
 

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