Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Narrative Part 3 - The Hero's Journey

Now that you've chosen your cast of characters, it's time to choose a starting point for your story.  Stories are snapshots of time and experience, and rarely start "at the beginning."

Be careful about creating too much "back story," but it's all right to set the stage.  Who, what, where, and when are great questions to address in your setting.

Now, the hero is usually some regular guy - or gal, of course! - who really isn't looking do to anything particularly heroic.

But he wants something, or something is required of him, and he soon finds himself 'called to action.'  If you are thinking of Frodo Baggins, Luke Skywalker, or Harry Potter, then you're on the right track!

The hero makes it on his own for a while, and it seems as though his objective might not be that hard to achieve after all.

But soon, the antagonist enters the picture, and suddenly the hero requires backup.  Enter a few allies.  (Samwise Gamgee, Han Solo, Ron and Hermione, for example.)

But unfortunately, the antagonist (Lord Whatshisname - the one with the giant eye; Darth Vader; Voldemort)  has allies, too.  (ring wraiths; stormtroopers; Helena Bonham Carter's hairdresser)

The hero and his companions overcome as many obstacles as possible, but it's getting increasingly difficult to do so.  We need more allies!  Let's get Strider, Princess Leia, and Dumbledore in on the action!

But wait!  The antagonist adds allies, too!  The evil white wizard, that ugly corrupt Emperor, and that rat-guy show up to cause trouble.

Struggle, struggle, battle, battle, overcome, overcome.

FINALLY, the hero emerges victorious, having conquered his foes.  His allies are rewarded, his enemies vanquished, and the hero himself is usually crowned king (or elevated above the status of a king).

That is essentially the hero's journey.  It also follows what is known as "narrative arc," so we won't spend a lot of time on that arc in this little series.

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