I was just perusing some of my favorite blogs and came across an interesting post on Jeri Westerson's blog Getting Medieval. It was about the Hero's Journey. You know the one. If you've been around writing for any length of time you've run across Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey. Basically, he worked with Jung's theory that all heroes undergo the same steps in order to complete their journey to becoming... well, a hero.
As Jeri put it, Whether we actively seek these steps or not, the best literature seems to follow them.
What are these steps? Broken down to their simplest components:
1) A call to adventure or quest
2) trials and tribulations along the way
3) gaining knowledge and tools from wise ones
4) achieving the quest and receiving special powers
5) returning to the mundane life and applying those powers for the betterment of the community
You don't have to be an expert writer to know that these same steps can be picked out of your favorite book or movie. Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars even The Wizard of Oz. I happened to be perusing the latest Sherilyn Kenyon book yesterday and found that she has an entire shelf that would have made both Campbell and Jung proud.
But one of the things that I've always been interested in is what makes a person make the choices that they make. Campbell suggested (and since I don't have the exact wording at hand I'm not directly quoting) that a antagonist is merely the hero of his own story. That in his mind he is playing out the same role a hero plays. This fascinated me so much that I wrote an entire workshop on it. Keep in mind, that I am deathly afraid of speaking in public. And yet, I really wanted to share my insight with others. The workshop is called Creating the Believable Anti-Hero and I'm honored to be asked to give it at New Jersey RWA, Put Your Heart in a Book Conference in October. If you are going to be there then stop by and say hello. I'll be the one with shaky knees, but a lot to say. In the meantime, check out Getting Medieval or Campbell's books. They are worth the journey.
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