Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Writer's Journey

Is your story lacking pizzazz? Is it boring even for you? The best remedy for a ho-hum story is to get your heroine out of her comfort zone. Throw something at her that makes you both recoil and scream 'No! Anything but that!'

Make her squirm. Lie awake at night worrying what will happen to her. Don't make it easy for her to escape. In fact, make it impossible.  

At the beginning of her story, bring in the Herald who calls her into adventure. She will refuse. It's human nature to resist change. But something will draw her out. Some small thing will get her attention in a way she cannot resist and will take her to a place where she cannot return to her ordinary existence. Once she has crossed the point of no return, she's fully engaged in that special world which is her own unique story.

You must follow her, gently prod her and see where she goes. If she goes out on a limb, stay with her. Feel the limb break. Feel yourself falling.

Dive into the depths of her world, feel your lungs bursting for air. Feel yourself die. And then feel the exhileration of being released back into the world, popping up and gulping air back into your body.

The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
A story worth telling takes the reader on a journey. But it's the writer's journey first and it's one that requires courage and stamina. Fortunately there are guides and charts and maps to assist us. Without a guide, the writer is in danger of wandering off into the forest of words, never finding their way out.

The Writer's Journey, by Christopher Vogler, is the classic roadmap for storytelling. This is the book that makes Joseph Campbell's Hero of a Thousand Faces user friendly. From his lifelong study of stories from all ages and cultures, Campbell discovered the structural elements that made them classics, and the infinite variation of archetypes who populate them and made their journeys unforgettable. Vogler's book makes Campbell's research accessible in a way that is so entertaining you might forget how much you're learning.


  1. Oooh thank you for the info on this book! I love the very wise advice here - take your characters out of their comfort zone and throw them hard against the unknown and see how they respond!

    Love it!

    Take care

  2. You're welcome Kitty. I like how you worded your response.... 'throw them hard against the unknown. . .'

  3. Rahma..thanks for this wonderful post. I badly needed to perk up my WIP. I will follow all the advice, throw my heroine headlong into trouble and watch her struggle to free herself from it, push her out of her comfort zone and see what stuff she is made of. I am sure the story will take an unusual turn then.

  4. Rachna: writing is a trip isn't it? We are taking the same journey as our heroine and we must be intrepid travelers.

  5. I wish I could write a witty creative response. So much enjoyed your blog about writing and hopefully it will inspire me to write better entries on my own blog.

  6. Judy: Thanks for stopping by and letting me know you were here. It's nice to meet new people this way and I got a chance to stop by and look at your postcard collection. Hope you to see you again!

  7. Thanks for the book rec. I was familiar with Campbell, but not Vogler.

  8. My dear Rahma,

    This was amazing and beautifully written. Thanks for the reminder that to make our characters strong, they must feel pain. And in the process, so must we.


  9. Medeia: Can't wait until your book comes out. Next summer seems like such a long way off!

    Cat: Thanks for stopping by and keeping in touch.

  10. ooooh that was wonderful. I am not so much a writer as a visual artist but that has certainly made me think of my painting subjects in a different light!


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