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  1. kryoung1983
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    kryoung1983 New Member

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    The heroes Journey and other problems

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by kryoung1983, Oct 8, 2009.

    I am working on my first novel and in doing so I find that certain elements are becoming more clear where others still seem to be quite unclear. For instance I am starting to have a more clear understanding of my antagonist, my world, and my mythos but not of a actual story except generally. The worst part is that I don't have a clear understanding of my protagonist. In fantasy the heroes journey is much more obvious. How do you go about creating this journey without it coming off as cliched? I am sure everyone knows the format of the hero. It is common, but I am afraid that in crafting such a story that I am creating something that is Generic and flat.

    This will be my first novel and I want to make sure that it is well done. I also have heard that it is better for the beginning novelist to cut his teeth on short stories! Do you think this is true? Is it necessary or is it better for the aspiring novelist to get use to the novel format and its problems and then just write a lot. I think a perfect example of this is Brandon Sanderson. He is going to be finishing Robert Jordan's Wheel Of Time series. He had to write 13 novels before he got published.

    What is better. The short story route, or just write novels until you get the hang of it?
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Short stories and novels, though both forms of prose, are markedly different, and talent in one by no means guarantees talent in the other. And short stories certainly shouldn't be seen as "practise" for a novel. If you want to write a novel, then your practise should be with the novel format. As for coming up with a story, if you really have no ideas at all you might try just free writing...write without a specific goal and see what develops. Personally, I never write in thatway, but then again I don't really have trouble coming up with story ideas...
     
  3. kryoung1983
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    kryoung1983 New Member

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    Yes I have been trying to develop my premise through free writing, which I hope will lead into further clarification as far as my story goals are concerned. I have only been free writing and brainstorming for about a week though. Certain elements have really improved, and some have not. I hope that as I free write and organize my thoughts and do think about different characters that the story will become more fleshed out. I have always tried to just write the novel without knowing what I am doing and generally that hasn't worked. I am trying a more goal oriented, and structured approach.

    Right now I am mostly worried about the heroes journey aspect of it and I am sure that with time this will become more developed. I guess in the end it all comes down to the quality of my writing.
     
  4. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Joseph Campbell himself hinted at it: clinging to the Hero's Journey model will produce predictable stories. Understanding the workings of the model is a great tool, but use the understanding to avoid cliches, not as a cookiecutter for success, because that's already been done too many times, by Lucas and his likeminded.

    Especially in fantasy, I'd use the Hero's Journey as a reference for things to avoid completely, if I wanted to write a story that was remotely original.
     
  5. Kirvee
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    Kirvee Contributing Member

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    Depends on your story. If your protagonist is going on some sort of journey in the story, then you can seperate his/her journey into seperate goals. That's what I've done in mine. The time in between reaching the goals is where you would place plot/character development.

    Also, Dennis L. McKiernnan has really nice Journey models in his novels. Particularly in The Dragonstone and his Seasonal Quar/Quintet. You could look at those to get an idea, none of them are cliched in any way.
     
  6. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    I'm going to break the trend here and say that if the motivation and outcomes of the hero's journey are inventive, the journey will be too.
     
  7. Destin
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    Destin Senior Member

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    Just don't get hung up on the actual journeying part of it and make sure you focus on the highlights and destinations. In my opinion hearing the hero was sore from sitting in the saddle more than once is too much. It's also easy to get dragged down with the monotony of "Bob walked past another tiny village, the people here were dressed... the inn was large..." If the village doesnt have something interesting going on, drop it like it's hot. Robert Jordan was the ABSOLUTE WORST for wearing down readers with that nonsense.
     
  8. kryoung1983
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    kryoung1983 New Member

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    Actually I am not a very big fan of Robert Jordan. I find his female characters extremely annoying. All they do is whine, complain, and nag. I find it very irritating. I will probably get the most recent one coming out though. I haven't read up that far so I will probably be lost. Thanks for the input everyone. I will look up Dennis L. Ckiernnan.

    Does anyone know any references besides Joseph Cambell that deal with the journey aspect of plot creation?
     
  9. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ha! Im all for it, we dont just like heroes, hell we love them:)

    and, we need them

    every tribe and village has the warrior or the hunter who can throw the farthest spear, every town has the kid who can shoot the best marble

    our society still practices person-worship in the form of adulation


    John Glenn, Optimus Prime, Neil de Grasse Tyson for me


    we make them out to be more than they are naturally, even if they dont have superhuman powers



    but with respect to your question, you want to depict a heroes journey (a very important part of the hero story) without making it look too contried.

    I commend, you-Lucas' Skywalker is a fine modern example


    Luke starts out as a young and innocent youth-many heroes from King Arthur to the Lion King have the same past.

    Another common issue, which shows their true might, is the test

    Arthur was the only person to pull the sword Excalibur from the stone, coupled with the prophecy of a coming king, and whammo-instant epic. Jesus was put to test by the devil in the bible, as was Moses and Beowulf's test of might was his initial challenge with Grendel.

    Finally, perhaps sadly, many or most heroes face their ends (death), often by violent means but also bravely. Sir Roland dies in battle, as does Thor, and Achilles. This is a throwback from melodramatic tragic aspects of old tales that is also a head nod to epic romance. Its outgrown favor today, most tales with hero deaths tend to be unwelcomed (superman, optimus prime, misery:eek:)

    Those are three examples of very persistent and typified eras of the development and evolution of the hero. They serve the function of not only telling his/her tale but also establishing where he/she is in terms of power/morality and such.

    You do not have to follow the mold, there is such a thing as an anti-hero (the punisher, the road warrior mad max, the man with no name clint eastwood character) who are often much more likable than their counterparts. These heroes seem dark, morally ambiguous, and scary-to the bad guys at least. But throughout their struggles we see remnants of ther humanity, and we love humans for their weaknesses as well as their strengths, because they tell us that its okay to be weak sometimes. That is an evolution from the bronze age idea of never showing weakness, it adds realism (did you know that Julius Caesar was an epileptic?).

    There is also the comic hero, like Don quixote and Joxer from Xena, or even Ash from Army of Darkness. They are unlikely heroes, but heroic because of their morals/instincts/upbringing.


    I suggest that as you tell the story of the hero you make every attempt to illustrate the fact that he/she is a hero through their actions. Throw a test their way every once in a while. Make the people love him, but whatever you do, never call him/her a hero, if you do, the word loses its meaning:(

    Tried to help, good luck!
     
  10. Destin
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    Destin Senior Member

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    Agreed on all of the above.

    I read his last couple books but it was more of a skim the first 700 pages and read the last 200 when his whiny do-nothing characters finally managed to accomplish something. Hopefully whoever writes the last one knows how to skip the boring bits and get to the good stuff.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    working your way up from short stories to novels is a lot like working your way up from climbing hills, to scaling everest... sure, they're not the same thing, but one does need to learn how to crawl, before attempting a nureyev grand jete across the stage...

    practising with short stories first, will give you the experience you need in how to create believable, reader-engaging characters, setting scenes effectively, writing compelling narrative and dialog, without committing yourself to a year or more of writing, before you can tell if it's working...

    no, it's not de rigueur, but i think it's more sensible than jumping right into the middle of the river, before you know you can swim well enough to get to the shore...
     
  12. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    As has been indicated, writing a short story and writing a novel, while there are some similar skills required, there are differences, including pacing and structure.

    There are advantages beyond the skills set. It can boost writer confidence to complete a project and introduce the writer to the submission process and working with editors, for example.

    But also remember that there are many writers out there attempting to get their short fiction published, so the competition is very fierce. But that is a good thing. If you sell to a decent short ficiton market, it means you're producing publishable work that editors believed in as well as reaching readers with your work.

    In the end, you have to write what's in your heart. If you don't care for short fiction and have a novel burning in your head, work on that, realizing it is a long road with no promise of success (being published) at the end.

    Terry
     
  13. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    Speaking of the Hero's Journey, I think it's a good place to start. What I plan to do when I stop being lazy (like I'm trying to do now for NaNoWriMo) is to write something simple and probably cliche, but to try to do it uniquely. What I write now won't be for publishing, but for practice.

    One of those things is actually to rewrite Star Wars as a fantasy novel. Like Eragon, but not terrible. Star Wars is (almost) the quintessential Hero's Journey.

    I once mentioned to one of my instructors that I have so many things that are half finished, and he told me that if you walked into a sculptor's studio, then you'd see tons of half finished work all over the shelves.
    Don't worry about trying for the first thing you write to be a best seller. Worry about being a better writer for yourself.
     
  14. Fox Favinger
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    Fox Favinger Contributing Member

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    Don't know about you guys but I always route for the outcast in any story, whether he is good or bad. Sometimes I'll even cheer for the villain is that character has more depth. In all honesty I'm sick of heroes. I want people that hurt people without realizing it, people that do bad things for no apparent reason, you know, people that are human. They can still be a hero, so long as they are not doing good for the sake of it.

    I've been attempting short stories for a while now. But I've only had one good short in my opinion. And guess where I got the idea? I took a scene from a novel idea that was a story within itself. I can't handle the pacing and the limited focus. Most of my ideas are simply more suitable for novels. I can bang out 10,000 words like nothing and just have an intro done. I've concluded that I'm just not a short story writer simply because of the way I think. I still read shorts and novellas all the time. They are easy reads and I adore them, I just cannot plan them out like I can a novel.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    better not, unless lucas is a doting uncle and says you can!
     
  16. Fox Favinger
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    Fox Favinger Contributing Member

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    I always considered Star Wars to be fantasy like. I mean the force is pretty much magic right? I mean they try to make it into a biological thing in the newer films but who takes them seriously when compared to the originals?
     
  17. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    What he doesn't know can't hurt me. Besides, I hear he likes fan work.

    Not that I'm going to take the exact plot and characters, just similar things. No Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, for instance, but there might be a young farmboy who rescues a princess and saves the world from an evil emperor. Standard stuff.
     
  18. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is fantasy

    on page one of this thread I did a whole dissertation and the hero motif and mentioned the fantastic aspects of the Star Wars universe

    Lucas was inspired by Joseph Campbell, and so am I BTW in case you coudnt tell ^^
     
  19. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    don't count on him not knowing!

    liking it, and letting folks rip off his work are two different things...

    however, if all you're doing is using the very unoriginal basic premise, that's not plagiarism, or copyright infringement, since as noted above, he used an old tried and true concept himself...
     

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