1. Nidhogg
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    Nidhogg Member

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    Avoiding the Call to Adventure

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Nidhogg, May 17, 2016.

    In the current story I'm trying to plot out, the protagonist currently looks like she is going to want to avoid the call to adventure as much as physically possible. I'm currently stuck between having the plot focus on her avoidance of the call and the reprecussions of this, or finding a good enough justification for why she would accept the call, and was wondering if I could have some external input.

    For context, the main character is a retired superhero who has been called by the government to become a superhero once more. When she was younger, she signed a document with them saying that she would finish a cumulative number of years at their service before retiring; because she left before this time was over, she has several years of work left to do that the government now wants to get from her. She doesn't want to return because her previous work left her mentally scarred, suffering from what could very well be PTSD, and with multiple body scars. She also felt that the government did little to aid her after her retirement, which when added to the treatment of her father after he returned from the Vietnam war makes her rather distrusting of the government. Her parents support her in this mostly, except that her father still has a sense of nationalism that makes him want to encourage her to do their country proud and make a difference in the world.

    My current thoughts on options are:
    • She is pressured into working for the government, and the plot partially deals with her trying to justify her actions/find a way to get out of the government's control
    • She runs away from her issues, resulting in her being pursued by the government and/or the threat they want her to stop becoming an issue in her personal life
    • She finds a reason to willingly want to return to being a superhero
    • The request to join the government looms over the story, with it being more of an open invitation than a demand. In this way, the story focuses on other aspects of her life, or her dealing with superhuman threats whilst being at odds with the government & government funded superheroes.
    Any thoughts would be really appreciated.
     
  2. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    Oh, the reluctant hero, love that one. Although you could always go the route of Anti-hero (your Riddicks, Deadpools, and what have you.)

    Here's what i would do, have her doing heroic stuff on the DL, and only as a last resort, but insert a reporter into the story that portrays everything she does as #TheMostHeroicThingEver, regardless of how selfish or reluctant she was during crucial periods of her heroicness.
     
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  3. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    So, you might also consider alternative story structures to the Campbellian monomyth/hero's journey - especially since you have a female protagonist. Honestly a few of these structures work for male protags as well, but there are two feminist ones that I think have a lot of merit (regardless of one's thoughts on feminism).

    The first one is Maureen Murdocks "Heroine's Journey". This is meant to be a slightly tweaked version of the hero's journey to match the different conflicts faced by women. It's got most of the dame elements and does not actually deviate from the heroic narrative, but it's a different way of looking at it.
    [​IMG]


    The second one, and the one I'm actually using as a map for my own stuff, is Kim Hudson's "Virgin's Promise" structure. Which is actually her attempt to find a monomyth behind feminine stories of self-discovery (See: "Bend it Like Beckham", "The Princess Diaries", etc.), but it also maps really well onto underdog sports stories ("Rocky" is used repeatedly as an example of the monomyth, and I can see "Ender's Game" fitting in here as well).

    I personally have the book and LOVE IT, but steps of the structure online here.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2016
  4. Nidhogg
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    Nidhogg Member

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    @Commandante Lemming personally I wasn't thinking too much into doing a hero's journey style story- I the question is more towards what direction to take the story when the protagonist blatantly refuses to seek the most obvious form of conflict and plot movement than how to modify the story so that it works within a previously determined structure. I couldn't think of another way to word it beyond 'avoiding the call to adventure', which was probably a bad idea now that I see the connotations it has with the monomyth outline.
     
  5. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Forgive my tendency to always want to kill characters, but what if her dad got gravely ill or passed away, and she willingly chose to help the government as a way to honor his life as a veteran? You could still give her a ton of internal conflict about it, since even though it was her decision, it's not really her choice.
     
  6. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    So I'd need to think more on the actual specifics - but off-hand I think you actually should take a look at the Virgin's Promise structure I linked above. Not so much to shove your story into it, but because a good amount of that structure actually deals with the character either running from or being kept from their true purpose. There might be some ideas there. Personally I use the Virgin's Promise structure because I really didn't think my plotline worked as a Hero's Journey at all, and when I stumbled on that structure I realized I'd already written most of the plot beats - so I used the structure as a guide to filling in my gaps.
     
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  7. Nidhogg
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    Nidhogg Member

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    I really like this idea, but I'm conflicted on its application because of the frequency of the 'dead/dying parent' stereotype in superhero fiction. I feel that the father having a disease that is curable but costs a lot to cure would be a potential motivation that could be used as leverage by the government though.
     
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  8. IHaveNoName
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    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    A combination of 1 & 4 sounds good. Maybe she's working with/for another group (kind of a vigilante crew like Arrow), and her father falls ill. The government's been wanting her back in their employ for years, but she's been avoiding them. Now they can dangle the carrot ("we can pay for his treatments") in front of her. She could agree to work for them on a temp basis, like a consultant (with a little convincing from her father), while still dealing with her private life... meanwhile, you could build up toward a larger conflict, or whatever you want to do with the plot.
     
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  9. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Well, maybe the government just straight up forces her to do it, if they have legal justification what she gonna do? You could have the thing be how she goes about doing the job, and what attitudes she takes. Lots of emotion and thought-provoking there. Explore the concept of her forced recruitment from different angles and perspectives. Make the reader go through different ideas. As I like to say; "play with the theme."
     
  10. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    These sound like what Blake Snyder would call the Debate, that part of the first act where the MC is deciding whether or not to take up the challenge presented.
    And this sounds like the first turning point (a screenplay term) where the MC finally decides to do whatever the story demands. If things suddenly get personal (someone/something she loves is threatened) that could be what causes her to make the decision.
     
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