Campbell's Journey

Awhile ago I wrote a blog on the Journey where I talked about Joseph Campbell and his mythic story structure that he based on Jung's work. Since I'm going to be giving my workshop in October on Creating Believeable Anti-Heroes at New Jersey RWA's Put Your Heart in a Book Conference, I thought I would take this opportunity to go over my interpretation of Campbell's Hero's Journey.

The Inciting Incident followed closely by the Call to Adventure...

Every good book starts with one. It's that initial incidient that sets the ball rolling and gives the reader an idea of what it is that the hero... or heroine want most at the beginning of the story. Usually, this comes around the same time that we meet the main hero/heroine and we find out if they are up to the challenge at hand. A lot of writers tend to think of the Inciting incident as the same thing as the call to adventure, but in my mind they are two very different things. The inciting incident is the place where we see time stop for the hero/heroine. It's here that they feel their world shattering. The Call to Adventure would be when they make up their minds to go after what they want most.

In Romancing the Stone, Jack wants that yacht. We know that he's willing to do whatever it takes, legal or not, to get that yacht. We see him going after the birds in order to get the money to get his yacht. So, we know that Jack is desparate. It's only Joan falls into his lap (literally) that we see just what he's willing to do to make that dream come true.

In Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc, Indy wants to get to that Arc before his fellow archeologist can. We've already seen from the beginning set up that he's more than willing to switch from mild mannered college professor to swashbuckling hero to get the job done and the call to adventure is a mix of the headiness of the hunt mixed with a good dose of professional jealousy and the love of a good history.

In my book Obsidian, the call to adventure follows an inciting incident of a boat explosion that kills Jamie's best friend. He is shattered and frankly, he drinks a little bit too much as a way of escaping the pain. The Call to Adventure comes when no one will tell him what really happened to his friend and he decides to take matters into his own hands.

Campbell's theory was that all stories follow the same mythic story structure. That by knowing what the structure is we can pick them out of stories and use them to create our own mythic stories.

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