Yesterday, we talked about the Call to Adventure. Today, we're on to the Trials and Tribulations that plague us on our Journey to Campbell's mythic story structure.
We've already set the stage with our hero/heroine by creating an inciting incident that introduces them as well as illustrating to the reader just how far they willing to go for what they want. The Call to Adventure is that event that brings them to the point where they know they can no longer avoid what needs to be done. Their need is so great that they will do whatever it takes to get it.
But, oh, those Trials and Tribulations!
You know... those pesky little things that get in the way of what your characters want most. I went to see the new Clone Wars movie with my son on Friday. Before my eyes glazed over from having to watch what is basically a good movie (but, still a cartoon), I was able to identify that mythic story structure the Star Wars stories are so famous for following. Anaken and Obi Wan (please forgive me if I spell these wrong) know what they must accomplish. Their paths are set. But there are so many trials and tribulations along the way that you begin to wonder if they are in fact going to accomplish their goal. Each task becomes successively more difficult. The stakes are raised along the way. And, by the end of this there is no doubt that the characters are determined to succeed.
Currently, I'm reading Chris Marie Green's Midnight Reign. This is the second book in the Vampire Babylon series and even though I haven't read the first one yet, it's clear what the heroine wants. She wants most to find her father. And we begin to see that all these things that are distracting her from her main goal are the trials and tribulations of the mythic story structure.
These trials and tribulations are there for a reason. They up the ante for the character. They test their mettle to be able to perform the tasks. And they serve to increase their need to achieve. Every good case of Trials and Tribulations will result is self-discovery. Their greatest weaknesses are brought forth and can only be overcome by their greatest strength.
These are the things that lead up to that "God is my witness" moment from Gone with the Wind.
But be forewarned, the trials and tribulations should serve to increase the tension of the story. They should move the story forward and force the emotions of the characters to the point of breaking and determination. These are true mythic trials. Remember the minotaur in the labyrinth? Theseus volunteered to go kill the minotaur to keep the sacrifices from happening. He was added by Ariadne who loved him and helped him navigate the labyrinth and kill the minotaur. All the things that challenged Theseus in the labyrinth were his trials and tribulations.
I'm taking a break from the story structure on Sunday. But I'll be back with more on Monday.
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