The Hero’s and Heroine’s Journey: a spine seeks a body

Like it or not, the Hero/ine’s Journey is here to stay. It started long before Chris Vogler (The Writer’s Journey) sat down at his desk at Disney to craft that notorious memo which has transfixed Hollywood since the ‘80s and it will continue long after. The Journey has recognizable steps through which a ‘hero/ine’ must pass before reaching their goal and so can propel a story forward. These steps, which function better as passages, are ubiquitous. They are everywhere. Writers can save themselves a lot of grief if they know these passages well-enough to deploy them — consciously. Or not. Because, like it or not, they are working on our work. And our readers.

All of us bring the Journey to the work because, arguably, it is the human journey. The Call to Adventure, the Refusal of The Call, Meeting the Mentor, Gaining the Ally, Entering the Darkest Cave, Confronting the Trickster, Winning the Boon, etc. might be seen as the rapids through which a story-person must row before they can win the prize or return home. Chris Vogler has made a career spreading the good news of the Hero’s Journey after he stumbled upon Joseph Campbell’s ‘Hero With a Thousand Faces’. Campbell was nudged on his own journey by the ground-breaking work of the guy who did Freud one better — Carl Jung. His ‘Memories, Dreams and Reflections’ is a must-read for any story-teller.

Try this: Watch a movie, TV show or read a novel. Where do you see the Hero/ine’s Journey being deployed? Did they stick to the script or allow the spine to serve their story (vs. The story serving the spine)? Finally, look at your own work. Have your story-people met anyone who knew more than they do (a Mentor)? Has your heroine met a weakened male authority figure? Have your people refused their call to greatness? 

Now, really take a risk: look around at the people in your life. You are surrounded by humans on the Journey. Which passage are they engaging with, passing through, arriving at? By becoming familiar with the Hero/ine’s Journey your work, and perhaps your life, will transform.

Here’s a great short overview of the Hero’s Journey

I’ll meet you somewhere along the way.

If you’d like to enrol in a workshop, check out the WCTO page.