Why do some stories work and others not?
The explanation may lie in the “origins of the mythological hero” (Cambell 2008, p. 30), as it shows us, that it is the hero’s transformation in the story that drives it forward.
Who is she? What challenges is she facing? What’s her story about? Without the hero’s tale, there is no story. So, the concept behind my first script will need to be grounded in a solid and clear idea of who my hero is. By understanding what my protagonist is facing and will be going through, I will be able to drive my story forward through the 3-act-structure. Without a solid idea, I will not be able to assemble a strong script that raises the ultimate question: what made my hero go on this quest that was set before her?
After reading Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces (2008), it became clear that the symbolism found in legends and folk stories indeed shows us that “the outline of the mythological formula of the hero” (p.16) has been around for centuries. Perhaps even for as long as storytelling has existed. It is that of a ‘hero’ who will be called to embark on a quest that may redefine her and the world around her. You will recognise it in every story, you have encountered. Providing us with a comforting familiarity with the story of the hero’s quest. We will see how it transforms her, and we understand that it is the transformation of the hero, that intrigues us. The hero comes back from the mission “transfigured, and teach the lesson he has learned of life renewed” (p.15) and we see that “the problems and solutions shown [on this quest] are directly valid for all mankind” (Cambell, 2008, p. 14).
This concept is known as the Cambell’s monomyth (1994, p. 23), which is a circular tale all mythological heroes must endure by passing through the stages of “separation – initiation – return” (Cambell, 1994, p.23). Vogler (n.d.) outlines the 12 steps of this circular as seen in figure 1 below.
The congruity of “The Hero’s Journey” (Vogler, 2007, p. ix) is therefore found in all storytelling with “common structural elements” (p.1) that are perpetuated in folklores and modern stories alike. And, the quest is always at the heart it. How else can the hero become the hero?
“It is a recognition of a beautiful design, a set of principles that govern … the world of storytelling, the way physics and chemistry govern the physical world” (Volger, 2007, p.ix).
CAMPBELL, J. (2008) The hero with a thousand faces. 3rd ed. Novato, California: New World Library.
VOGLER, C. (2007) The writer’s journey: mythic structure for writers. 3rd ed. Studio City, CA: Michael Wiese Productions.
VOGLER, C. (n.d.) Storytech. [Online] http://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero’s_journey.htm [Accessed 01/03/16].