May 9, 2018
$360 | 10 Weeks
For storytellers, the word, Hero, is like the word ‘home’ –we all want to go home. We all want to be at home. We all want to be the Hero. We all want the traits that a Hero has. To be a Hero is to be a believer in our own amazing potential, to be courageous in pursuing our life’s adventure, and to be sacrificial in our relationships with ourselves and others. It’s to decrease our emphasis on the fighting and aggressive warrior archetype that we all seem to understand way too well and begin to live in the transformative and miraculous power of the magician archetype. To be a Hero is to be at home in our own lives.
Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey is about finding the Hero in the stories that are our lives and giving him expression. It’s saying yes to the Hero when he shows up. We face down our demons and transform our fears into places of magical and miraculous potential. When we are able to do that we are empowered from the deepest and most authentic place inside of ourselves.
As writers and storytellers, acknowledging The Hero’s Journey for ourselves if we’re the main character in our story or acknowledging it for our characters if we’re writing fiction is to give ourselves permission to break through the conflicts and troubled places in our minds to a place of transcendence and freedom.
Chris Vogler writes in his book, The Writer’s Journey: The Hero’s Journey is not an invention, but an observation. It is a recognition of a beautiful design, a set of principles that govern the conduct of life and the world of storytelling the way physics and chemistry govern the physical world…The Hero’s Journey is a pattern that seems to extend in many dimensions, describing more than one reality. It accurately describes, among other things, the process of making a journey, the necessary working parts of a story, the joys and despairs of being a writer, and the passage of a soul through life.
This course is about identifying the journey you want to write about, deciding whether you want to approach your story through fiction or nonfiction, and then having the courage to say yes to the Call to Adventure and move into the Special World of The Hero’s Journey.
Recommended text: The Writer’s Journey; Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler
(strongly recommended but not required)
Week One: Introduction to Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey
What is it? How does it inform our lives? How can we become the heroes of our own lives through writing our stories? Is it possible to move from our deep-seated perception of ourselves as victims and start thinking of ourselves as heroes?
Assignment: To submit three ideas for group exploration using The Hero’s Journey criteria.
Week Two: Outlining your Hero’s Journey
Feeling passionate about the story idea you’ve chosen; becoming clear about the archetypes in your idea; identifying the stages of the journey and organizing the story events into a form.
Assignment: To create a structure for your story, to recognize the character archetypes as they present themselves, to be able to state the purpose of each archetype in your journey.
Week Three: The Ordinary World and the Call to Adventure
Hooking the reader; introducing the Hero and his psychic wound; establishing your Hero’s background; creating an initial mood, image or metaphor; asking the sacred question; positioning the inciting incident; moving behind the Herald’s mask.
Assignment: To begin your story, introducing the Ordinary World and writing through to the Call to Adventure
Week Four: The Refusal of the Call and Meeting with the Mentor
The Hero avoids the call; creative excuses for his resistance; the challenge of the Threshold Guardians; the appearance of the Mentor; the many masks of the Mentor
Assignment: To move your Hero through the Refusal of the Call and the Meeting with the Mentor
Week Five: Crossing the First Threshold and Tests, Allies, and Enemies
Approaching the threshold and encountering the Threshold Guardians; crossing the threshold; contrasting the Ordinary World and the special world; testing the Hero; discerning who are allies and who are enemies; new rules of the special world
Assignment: To get your Hero across the first threshold where he is tested and encounters his allies and enemies
Week Six: Approach to the Inmost Cave and Ordeal
Deciding on the Hero’s approach to his adventure; encountering the obstacles; creative appeals to the Threshold Guardians; complications and higher stakes; stepping back to reorganize; breakthrough; no exit; death and rebirth; crisis; facing the shadow; taste of death and cheating death; crisis of the heart; facing the greatest fear; death of the ego
Assignment: To write your Hero’s Approach to the Inmost Cave and take him through his Ordeal
Week Seven: Reward (Seizing the Sword) and The Road Back
Celebrating the victory; campfire and/or love scenes; taking possession of the external or internal goal; facing death; rededication to the Call; renewed motivation in the face of retaliation from the enemy; chase scenes; final setback
Assignment: To Reward your Hero and put him on the Road Back home
Week Eight: Resurrection and Return with the Elixir
Cleansing from the smell of death and an emerging new self; showdown and the highest stake yet; climax and catharsis; understanding the character arc; the Hero’s sacrifice; denouement; the circular story form vs. the open-ended story form; surprise; reward and punishment; identifying the Elixir
Assignment: To resurrect your Hero and show his return with the Elixir
Week Nine: Rewriting Your Journey
A look at theme, structure, voice, style, and tone
Assignment: To rewrite your Hero’s Journey story, getting as close as you can to the story’s authentic truth
Week Ten: What now?
Learn to use your Hero’s Journey in an ongoing way as a metaphor for your life.
Assignment: To answer five self-discovery questions.