“The Writer’s Journey” by Christopher Vogler – research pt.1

My notes from the chapters “The road back” and “Resurrection”


“The road back” covers:

Motivation – the reason why the road back exists in the first place

Retaliation – the villain’s one last strike

Chase scenes – the hero/villain chasing the other one last time

Magic flight – where the hero abandons the fight in order to regroup

Villain escape – because of various reasons the villain manages to escape

Setbacks – something unexpected happens that makes the audience doubt the hero’s success


“Resurrection” covers:

A New Personality

Cleansing

Two Great Ordeals

The Active Hero

Showdowns

Death and Rebirth of Tragic Heroes

Choice

Climax

Catharsis

Character Arch

Last Chance

Proof

Sacrifice

Incorporation

Change

   In the introduction of the book, Vogler acknowledges the artistry of films that go against the structure he lays down, pointing out that as a downside it would limit the audience. He mentions that “The Writer’s Journey” is meant to be used as reference, as guideline, not as an actual formula and that using it as a rigid formula would make projects predictable, therefore boring. In order to keep the plot interesting he suggests adding a fresh view on familiar places which reminded me of how the play writer William Shakespeare was presented in the comic novel “The Sandman“. Here (← Click) is a deconstruction of the twist Neil Gaiman put on the story of Shakespeare’s genius.

   When I think about effective presentations, TED talks come to mind. Naturally, that was the first place I looked at for additional information on the subject of storytelling in movies in order to create a context for Christopher Vogler’s book.

Below: Andrew Stanton: The clues to a great story

https://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_stanton_the_clues_to_a_great_story

   While Stanton doesn’t talk about the general structure of a plot, he highlights a few important points from films he worked on, that he believes to have contributed to their success. As key elements he mentions the importance of dynamic action, character development and giving clues to the audience in order to peak their interest and arouse curiosity.

   While looking at classical examples of a hero’s road back, I remembered reading a great book that did not have that at all. “The Double” by Jose Saramago was a captivating piece of writing that had its protagonist stay in the special world and ultimately become that special world for another character. This shows that it is possible to create a compelling plot outside of the standard structure.

Something that Vogler does not talk about is the importance of the medium used to present different stories. Various mediums appeals to various people and in recent years the gaming industry has been slowly growing into one of the most popular ways of conveying stories. Here (←Click) is an article presenting the power of storytelling through games. I feel it is important in this context to also mention the company Telltale which has produced extraordinarily captivating plots for their products.

References:

Gaiman, N. (2010) The Sandman volume 3: Dream country. New York: Vertico/DC Comics.

Shakespeare in The Sandman: Two Worlds Colliding (2010) Available at: http://ler.letras.up.pt/uploads/ficheiros/7539.pdf (Accessed: 4 February 2017).

Saramago, J., Portuguese, the and Costa, M.J. (2005) The double. Orlando, FL: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Stanton, A. (2012) The clues to a great story. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_stanton_the_clues_to_a_great_story#t-803940 (Accessed: 7 February 2017).

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