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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Writing: The Hero's Journey

My boyfriend has been reading Evergreen: A Fallen Star and has given me some constructive criticism. Yeah, Shaun was a great proofreader, but he didn't offer any advice on the story itself, which is what Aaron is now doing. We spent at least an hour on Monday talking about my writing, and especially Evergreen.

Allow me to share an AWESOME link he found for me, and something he's known about for a long while: the Hero's Journey. This is a sort of guidelines to writing, and it's perfectly applicable to Evergreen. We have agreed that not all steps are completely necessary, and you could probably mix the order up a bit, but overall, these are some good rules for a writer to follow.

I've evaluated Evergreen using this list and there are some things I'd now like to change, add, fix and omit. I suggest reading the explanation of the steps before reading any further. I found some of the titles a little misleading, or very focused on certain aspects of the definition.

Call to Adventure. Definitely there, but I need to think about where the pinpoint is.

Refusal of the Call. Oh my God, where is it? I NEED to fix this! How utterly STUPID of me!

Supernatural Aid. Got it. But she needs more merit and depth. I'll work on it.

The Crossing of the Threshold. It's there. I'm not sure if I'm satisfied with it or not, but I've got it, and I'll see what I can do to work on it.

The Belly of the Whale. Got it. Perhaps it needs a little bit more depth though. We'll see what I can do!

The Road of Trials. Heck yes! Though I'll admit now, it seems I've used something rather cliche in there, and apparently there were a few unclear moments of happenings... by my own evaluation, I'd like to go into more depth in how it tests my protagonists individually, in their heads. Something for me to work on, but at least it's there.

The Meeting with the Goddess. I don't really think it's there, though I'm not sure it's necessary for Evergreen. This is one of the steps that Aaron and I think is okay for me to miss at this point. Either that or I've severely misinterpreted what it means. Well, fingers crossed, and perhaps I'll evaluate this situation again soon.

Woman as the Temptress. I think I may kind of have it sort of somewhere in there. But I'm not 100% satisfied with it by any means, if it is really there. I need to give my protagonists a reason to want to quit half way. Which I'm pretty sure I have. What I REALLY need is to SHOW that they want to quit half way, which I feel I haven't done.

Atonement with the Father. I am actually quite lost in putting this one against what I have of Evergreen. There is something that I think could pass off as this, but I'm really uncertain. Something I will have to discuss further with Aaron.

Apotheosis. I have it for certain. This is one of the parts that I'm ALMOST completely happy with. And I shall say no more on it.

The Ultimate Boon. Yes, yes, yes. This is also a part that I'm reasonably happy with. Though I do believe there is still room for improvement.

Refusal of the Return. Does a moment's hesitation for a reason I will not mention for fear of spoiling way too much count? If not, I don't think it is quite necessary in Evergreen.

The Magic Flight. Yes, I have this. I think the order here has been swapped with the Refusal of the Return though. Do anyone think it matters significantly?

Rescue from Without. Yes. BUT. I'm honestly thinking of scrapping what I've got on it. The idea I had seems too childish, too stupid, too far-fetched. I need to know WHY I have it in my story, and to be perfectly honest, and although I am ashamed to admit, I'm not so sure that I do. So unless I can figure out a reason why and adapt it, it will be changed. This step IS necessary, and so there is no way I can just cut it. But I need to fix it at the very least. I am NOT happy.

The Crossing of the Return Threshold. Yes, but I'd like to give it a major face-lift.

Master of the Two Worlds. I'm not entirely sure if or how I've applied this step to Evergreen, but there's a nagging voice in the back of my head saying, "Bonnee, you need that step!" So I'll be looking into this one again later.

Freedom to Live. Yes, I have my happily ever after there for you all to read when it's perfect and published in 1000 years when I've finally accepted that any more revising will kill me. Or IS it a happily ever after, hmm?

As you can see, I've already got some major editing to do and so my plans to send out queries very soon has gone down the drain. Aaron has been very helpful and given other pointers too, which I intend to look in to. I'll share some of those another time. I know it's bad to get stuck in the process of redrafting over and over again, but truth be told, this is the closest thing to any real criticism I've had, and some of the other blogs I'm reading are advising to get that second pair of eyes on your manuscript before querying. But that's a whole blogpost  in itself*, so I'll leave it at that!

When writing, do you follow any steps like the Hero's Journey? How might you compare what you have in your manuscript to the steps of the Hero's Journey? 

- Bonnee.

* Question me on my decision to continue editing instead of querying when I make a blogpost about it. I'd like to keep comments for this post focused on the Hero's Journey if I could. 

12 comments:

  1. I think it's good to question your work and look at it in a new light, and having someone read it and raise questions and make you think about it all over again is critical in your development as a writer and in the development of your book. AND you don't want to make the mistake so many others have made (maybe even me!) and query too soon. I can't remember if I asked you how many others have read Evergreen--it's probably best to get three or four other people at least. Also, when is the last time you sat down and read it yourself? A little time, a little mental distance can do wonderful things for a manuscript. Oops, I think I just ignored your fine-print request, sorry.

    I have not deliberately followed the Hero's Journey. I could say it's because I haven't written 'that sort of story', but to some degree, all stories are 'that sort of story', and can probably be viewed within the framework of the Hero's Journey.

    One other comment--you're smart enough to know this, but I'll say it anyway: be careful about shoehorning things in 'just because'. I don't believe in blindly following templates. You've already written about the need to know WHY you include this or that; make sure anything you add is added because it serves your story, not because a theory of writing says you have to have it. I'll shut up now.

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    1. I'll allow the first part. I was mostly worried that people would be all like BONNEE, STOP EDITING AND QUERY ALREADY! Ha ha :P But you're not doing that, so that's okay. Crisis averted.

      I'm happy to say that most of the steps that I think are relevant to my story are somewhat in there. Reading these steps has just made me realize where some weak spots exist in Evergreen.

      Anything I add certainly will be to serve my story. No "just because" for me. :)

      Thanks for your advice and encouragement JeffO :) It really means a lot to me!

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    2. In the end, you're the only one who can really decide if it's time to STOP EDITING AND QUERY ALREADY! Someone who's read through the full manuscript can tell you pretty accurately if it's good to go, but the ultimate decision comes from you. It's not just a matter of the MS being ready; you have to be ready, as well.

      I figured I didn't have to tell you. But just in case....Glad anything I've said can help somehow.

      Edit: man, those verification words are getting harder and harder....

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    3. Well, I've decided that the MS is NOT ready yet, no matter how eager I am. So continuing to edit, I shall :)

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  2. I find the link too long and complex to follow, and as JeffO said above it doesn't apply to many novels. But if it helps you that's great. Let me give you a simpler link that asks questions and see if you can answer them for you novel. Google for
    "Mary Kole, writing a simple, complelling query"
    You will get her post from August 2009 where she gives you six questions that your novel (and eventually your query) should answer.
    It's great that your boyfriend reading your novel, giving you new fresh eyes to look at the story. Best advice: Ask Aaron to read only the first page of Evergreen and then tell you if as a reader he really want to read the next page. If he says Yes or No, then ask him why? Your first page ust be interesting enough for readers to want to move on. Good luck.

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    1. Sorry to have confused you with the link. I found the one you were referring too, and thank you for directing me there, I shall keep those questions in mind. :) There are many similar resources out there on the internet.

      First page workshopping is something I am hoping Aaron will help me with, but I'll leave more details on non-Hero's-Journey related stuff in some future blogposts.

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  3. Hi Bonnee,

    I tried to find an email to contact you with, but no luck. But I did read you to telling us to message you through a comment. It'd be great if you could email me at thegoldenvanguard@live.ca and we can chat in private. I am the Co-Founder of an online newspaper publication called The Golden Vanguard, and I would like to speak with you about a few matters. Best of luck with your novel and your adventures. You seem to be an excellent job. We look forward to hearing from you.

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    1. I apologize for my lack of contact info... I have been meaning to create a new email for people to contact me with, separate to my personal-life address. But I'll send an email your way, thank you for stopping by :)

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  4. Also, that's an amazing link. It's perfect for my novel.

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    1. :) I'm glad you think so! It's a great resource.

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  5. When I see the amount of thought and planning you put into your writing, I just know you will be successful. I think that one day you will also be an exceptional writing teacher as well. And thank you for the blogging award!

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    1. I have set my heart so strongly against being a classroom teacher, I always forget that I could simply aim to teach other aspiring writers. It is a nice thought... We'll see! I'm glad that you have faith in me to succeed, thank you Rick.

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