Friday, 23 November 2012

Using the Hero's Journey

Earlier, I did some plotting using the whole Hero's Journey structure, which may not sound like much of interest, but bear with me. Because, as some people may know, I generally get quite stroppy about it. Or rather, I get quite stroppy about the way that, because George Lucas once used that tool of analysis as a way to give his work a more mythic structure, some people insist that using it as a blueprint is the only way to write.

I'm actually not a fan of any rigid obsession with a particularly structure, yet at the same time, I feel that the structure of a novel in general terms is an important part of the way it works. In the same way that we probably wouldn't give a song a twenty minute first verse and a twenty second last one, the balance and pacing of the individual components across a nice story arc is a good thing.

Ideally, I like to do that by simply looking at what is right. Like a chef working with ingredients, you can look at the recipe as long as you want, but your individual tasting of the balance of ingredients should count for more. Yet, when I'm stuck or in a hurry, it's important to be able to rely on craft to get me through, because this is my living.

So to balance that, I like to break things up by experimenting with different structures. It does two things. First, it allows me to pick one that suits what I'm trying to do (I find that John Truby's approach, for example, tends to suit slightly slower, more character based stuff). More importantly, it reminds me that I can switch structures. That the structure is something I'm choosing to use as a guide, not something that is absolutely essential to every story.

1 comment:

Donna Hole said...

I never really thought about the structure of my novels or short stories. I write it, then try to keep everything flowing and consistent as I edit.

Maybe I should google "story structure" to see if my way is effective.