Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mythology and Storytelling

Myths provided the basis for many bestsellers. Shakespeare supposedly based many of his plays on myths. And many current writers then adapted Shakespeare’s works into novels and movies.
Professor Joseph Campbell wrote a number of books about mythology. Anyone interested in mythology or spirituality should look him up. Myths to Live By, Pathways to Bliss delve into spirtuality in a unique way. Your library may also have Professor Campbell’s DVDs, such as Mythos I and II, or The Power of Myth.
Some of his books are useful to writers. In particular, his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces launched a new generation of storytellers to produce bestsellers such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Godfather. Christopher Vogler adapted Professor Campbell’s ideas into a text specifically aimed at writers called The Writer’s Journey, which others then adapted into writers’ workshops and texts.
The Hero’s Journey, or Monomyth involves many steps. Writers are advised to adapt these loosely in their own stories, not to base their story structure too strictly upon this framework. The individual steps are for later blogs.
The most important concept behind this framework is the Journey. That single word implies the protagonist will begin at one point and end up at an entirely new point, and along the way, will have encountered some challenges that will cause the protagonist to come out a new person at the end.
Screenwriters must adhere to a strict structure in this regard, and break everything down into three acts: the Setup, the Confrontation (about half the content) and the Resolution. Novelists and short story writers have some latitude, but should still follow a basic structure:
1. the Setup/Hook
2. the Inciting Incident
3. the Turning Point
4. the Midpoint/Raising the Stakes
5. the Swivel/Second Turning Point
6. the Crisis Point/Dark Moment
7. the Resolution.
Billy Mernit’s Writing the Romantic Comedy breaks these seven steps down in detail, but if you Google story arc, or character development, or romance writing, you’ll come up with tons of web sites with information.
Happy writing!

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