The Hero’s Journey is one of the more useful plotting methods we’ve looked at so far, because of the specific nature of most of the steps. And I can say this from experience—I’ve used the Hero’s Journey (both Vogler’s and Jung’s versions) to plot at least six books. Of those, I’ve actually written two of them (one with Vogler’s outline and the other with Jung’s).
The Hero’s Journey is a fun method to use for plotting, because it gives a great structure that we instinctively recognize (since it’s based on archetypes from fairy tales and all those myths we had to study in high school). It has some very specific steps to follow, so you have clear suggestions on the types of events to include.
However, sometimes I’ve been disappointed by the Hero’s Journey as a plotting method—when I expect to look at a list of steps and magically have the list tell me exactly how I should handle each of those scenes. That’s not really what it’s for—we still have to use our imagination.
And, as with all plotting methods, we have to be flexible. Not all books require all steps. A murder mystery, for example, may open after the hero has finally accepted the call—when he arrives on the crime scene. He may have another call to adventure, though—something that makes the case personal, if it isn’t already. And, of course, in writing, we have to stay flexible, too. My Hero’s Journey outlines bear only a passing resemblance to the finished products—in fact, I’m not totally sure I even have all the steps left in the manuscripts.
Sometimes it’s tough to see how the Hero’s Journey applies to different genres. Like I said, sometimes in mysteries, we jump in in the middle of the Journey. At Annette’s presentation a few months ago, someone asked about applying the Hero’s Journey to a romance. I was actually convinced to use the Hero’s Journey by The Everything Guide to Writing a Romance Novel, which I won on the Romance Writers’ Revenge blog—and tomorrow, we’ll have co-author Faye Hughes here to discuss how the Hero’s Journey plays out in a romance!
Now the Hero’s Journey is one of my favorite methods of plotting. Have you used the Hero’s Journey? How have you seen it applied in your works or in others’?
Image credit: Svilen Mushkatov