*Private Class | The Anti-Hero’s Journey for Storytellers

with Gloria Kempton

nyunews.com Courtesy of AMC

| 8 to 12 Weeks |


Private Course

$695.00Enroll Now

Note: This is a private, email-based course that can be scheduled at any time. You can enroll above, or email us at writers@writers.com for more information or to set up a session with Gloria.

You’ve created (or are creating) a character who won’t behave himself. If he’s the protagonist in your story, you may think you have a real problem here, as how are you going to make him sympathetic to the reader when he keeps robbing banks, pushing little old ladies out of his way when he’s crossing the street, and basically seems to care little about what’s expected of him in conventional society?

There’s a name for this character—the Anti-Hero.

Drawing from Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, in this course, we’ll study the Anti-Hero archetype, which most of the time, would be your story’s antagonist; how he moves, what’s important to him, what’s not, what motivates him, what doesn’t. This is the dark side of the Hero’s Journey. We’ll also study the Tragic Hero and how he directs his journey to its devastating end. Every character who opposes the good guy in your story is informed by one major archetype—the Shadow. Finally, we’ll discuss what goes into the development of this dark character if he’s your protagonist.

This class is for you if:

  • you’re writing a story with an anti-hero as the protagonist
  • you’re struggling with an anti-hero in your story who isn’t real enough, is too bad or isn’t bad enough
  • you simply want to learn more about how to effectively develop the “bad guy” in a story

Excellent. Encouraging and constructive. The lecture material was concise and relevant. The assignments were challenging and instructive.
—Judy Schreiner

The Anti-Hero’s Journey Course Objectives

In this course, you will learn how to:

  • Create three-dimensional shadow characters (rather than stick figures) who are believable with their own universal goals and motivations.
  • Create the kind of tragic hero the reader will empathize with but who will also be a cautionary tale.
  • Understand what makes the “bad guy” think what he thinks and do what he does.

By the end of this course, you will have the skeleton of an anti-hero’s journey that you can flesh out into a fully fledged story or novel.

Course Outline

Week One: The Hero’s Journey and the Anti-Hero

What is an anti-hero? A brief look at Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey, where the focus is on the hero, and then a shift to the structure of the anti-hero’s journey, where the focus is on the Shadow/antagonist and his role in the story.

Assignment: To write a brief sketch of a relatable anti-hero.

 Week Two: The Shadow

What is the influence of the Shadow and how does this archetype inform the anti-hero’s journey? The anti-hero, just as the hero, must have a character arc that builds in intensity as he faces off with the hero. You will be given a list of questions to ask your anti-hero that will reveal whether he will move toward the light or continue to deteriorate and ultimately descend into the void that is his unconscious.

Assignment: To write a pivotal scene for the anti-hero that shows how his Shadow is increasingly informing his choices.

 Week Three: The Anti-Hero’s Voice

What is the difference between the hero and the anti-hero? Finding your anti-hero’s voice is key to creating a believable antagonist. You’ll learn how to play with this voice using obsession, unconsciousness, aggression, and desperation–all of the places the anti-hero can go inside of himself in order to maintain his dark side.

Assignment: To write two short scenes from two emotionally different dark places in the anti-hero.

 Week Four: The Anti-Hero’s Internal Yearnings

How are the anti-hero’s yearnings different than the hero’s? Or are they different at all? Learn to see the anti-hero as a human being with the same needs and longings as everyone else, who simply hasn’t learned to ask in a healthy way for what he needs. These yearnings are what drives his behavior. You’ll be given a list of questions to answer about your own feelings and observations toward your story antagonist.

Assignment: To write a scene where the anti-hero is horrified to see that he has any yearnings at all.

 Week Five: The Anti-Hero’s External Quest

What is it that your anti-hero wants to do in the story you’re creating for him? Just like your hero, your anti-hero is on a quest. It might be to rob a jewelry store or to push your hero off a cliff, but to him, it’s real and it’s important.

Assignment: To write a reflective scene for your anti-hero that shows him coming up with what he considers to be a brilliant scheme to get what he wants and that will put your hero in harm’s way.

 Week Six: The Tragic Hero

Where’s the redemption in the story about the Tragic Hero? The answer to this question is found in what the reader learns about himself through reading the story about the kind of “hero” who makes bad decision after bad decision and ultimately destroys himself. In this way, the Tragic Hero is a teacher.

Assignment: 1) To write a one-line synopsis of a story with a Tragic Hero at the center and 2) to write a scene that reveals the pivotal moment where he can’t turn back.

Week Seven: The Anti-Hero as Protagonist

What will make a reader stay tuned in to a story about an anti-hero? Many things, and they’re all up to you to bring out. Everything learned so far about the anti-hero is required in this assignment so as to make the reader care about this character.

Assignment: To write a scene from the viewpoint of your anti-hero/protagonist that emotionally engages your reader.

 Week Eight: The End of the Journey

How does the anti-hero’s story end in a way that’s satisfying for the reader? The story isn’t usually about the anti-hero—rather, he’s the hero’s teacher–and so the lesson learned is because the anti-hero has pushed so hard against the hero that the hero can shine.

Assignment: To write the last scene of a hero’s or anti-hero’s story that reveals that character’s transformation (or deterioration, but it still must be a satisfying ending).

$695.00Enroll Now

Questions about the course content? Contact instructor directly.
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Student Comments

Student Feedback for Gloria Kempton:

I loved working with Gloria. She is very positive, encouraging, and thorough in her evaluations of our writing. Her feedback is excellent and her assignments really make you think. I cannot say enough good things about Gloria.The class was great! It was a wonderful experience! Janna Brock

I can't say enough about Gloria as a teacher. Her feedback is always so in-depth and full of questions to help me to think deeper about my story, character and plot. She was very responsive and timely with any questions and I felt encouraged while challenged the entire time. Michele Davidson

I was very happy with the content and the assignments. The class exceeded my expectations in every way. I found the deadlines, word limits and others feedback invaluable. I found out a lot about myself and the type of writing I want to continue. Gloria was a great teacher who gave a lot of feedback. How she keeps everything straight I'll never know. Her sense of humor and the way she evaluated assignments made me very comfortable. I had never shared my writing with anyone before and she made me feel very much at ease. Her feedback was helpful and specific as to what I needed to do as a writer to make my work better. Catherine Turner

The course went by quickly. I have gained helpful knowledge about the craft of writing. I'm grateful for that! I felt a lot of time and thought went into our teacher's remarks, guidance, and encouragement on each assignment. I am still re-reading her notes to learn as much as I can from her! Shirley Woods

Gloria encourages participation with all her students and we gain from each others' experiences. After decades of taking courses, Gloria has proven, with three consecutive courses, that she is the best writing instructor for me. Patricia Casey

Gloria's feedback was vital. She was helpful and gave thoughtful responses. She asked questions and knew how to best elaborate on topics when asked. Her lectures were easy to understand and thought-provoking. Rose Neff

Wow! Gloria is clearly an expert in her field and I feel fortunate that she chose to share her knowledge with other writers. Her mentoring and guidance was very impactful to me. I learned how powerful voice and perspective can be in shaping a story and her precise feedback was very actionable. I look forward to learning more from Gloria. Bonnie Bittman

Gloria did an excellent and thoughtful job through her critiques of my writing each week. Exploring the different genre available and their various structures was invaluable to me as I seek to grow in my writing. Her tips and encouragement helped me focus on the kind of writing it might be best for me to pursue going forward. Gloria was also personable, taking time to interact with each student, and most of all, I found her encouraging! Thanks Gloria! Ray Cureton

Gloria was terrific as an instructor. I didn't know what to expect since this was the first time I had ever taken a writing course on the net. Gloria's critiques on all of our work was timely, thoughtful, so on the mark it was scary at times-She was always so encouraging yet her comments never seemed condescending or false. Frankly, I was very surprised at how much Gloria provided in the way of written feedback as well as taking the time to answer questions from class members and participate in email exchanges-conversations. While it may sound odd, given this was a virtual course, Gloria was not only an excellent instructor, critic and supporter, she was gracious in the amount of attention she devoted to the group. Jan Smith

First I want to say that I loved Gloria. She really helped me to open my eyes and realize that becoming a writer or at least trying wasn't quite as scary as I thought it would be. Carly Young

Excellent. The lecture material was concise and relevant. The assignments were challenging and instructive. [Gloria was] very good. Excellent critique style. Wonderful attention to detail in review of our assignments. Encouraging and constructive. Judy Schreiner

Gloria has a great style and combines positive constructive feedback with personal and personable exchanges that challenge while growing your confidence. I am considering other courses as this was such a good experience. Ann Wright

YES!! It was a great experience with a wonderful writing coach. I felt challenged and excited to log in on Mondays and read the lecture and start writing the assignment. There was a great mix of different writing genres, so for those of us “Starting to Write” we were able to try a lot and maybe, hopefully, settle on one we would like to continue. Gloria is wonderfully smart, funny, encouraging, thought-provoking, just all around great. Her comments/critiques/reviews were amazing -- as a student you could tell that she really put time and energy into what she was doing. With an online class, you can loose the human connection, but I feel very connected to Gloria, I would take another class from her anytime! Anna Reorda

Very happy. This was the first writing class that I have taken so don't have anything else to compare it too, but I thought the lessons fit perfectly with my lack of experience. Gloria was excellent. Did a very nice job of reviewing our work, giving us encouragement along with constructive criticism. Gary Gustafson

Gloria was a fantastic teacher. She inspired me to find the desire to keep writing. She also led me into a new way of thinking about my writing and what I was capable of doing. I would definitely recommend these classes to others. In fact I have given your website out to two others so far. I will be taking another class with you in the near future. I'd like to thank you for being there on the web. Connie Wojtyna

Gloria gives amazing feedback. Very positive, yet not afraid to critique and point out weaknesses. I would definitely recommend the class to a friend. I am already taking another of Gloria's classes. Ann Barnett

Gloria Kempton has provided some of the best advice I’ve ever received on how to achieve more psychological depth in my fictional characters, and also how to investigate my own shadows. She gave excellent advice and feedback. Brownwen Jones

I'm happy to say that I was delighted with the course content, the assignments, and the instructor. Gloria's lecture material and feedback on assignments were very effective in drawing me to a conclusion as to what my writing niche(s) might be. The course met all of its objectives. Michael Tully

Gloria was well organized and and as thorough as could be hoped for. I thought her ability to offer critiques that were both positive and instructive was masterful. The lessons plans and lectures were very instructive and I will be referring to them often. Geoff Tobiasson

[Gloria's] critiques were thoughtful, elaborate, and helpful. She also added a personal touch and was really approachable during the entire class. Michael Ehler

Before signing up for this class, I looked over feedback from previous students of Gloria Kempton. All reviews said that she took a personal interest in her students, and I was not disappointed. She has a knack for meeting students right where they are, and gave constructive criticism with kindness and humor. She also recommended a couple of books that Writer's Digest had published for outside reading; I checked them both out of our public library and they were helpful. Lori Peardon

This was my first class, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I found the lessons challenging but "doable." They certainly stretched me a bit, which is what I was looking for. Gloria seemed friendly and fair, and offered helpful feedback. I was happy to have such a positive/encouraging person reviewing my work, and it helped me to stick with it. Arnold Doyle

Gloria was just the person I needed to help me with my writing, make constructive suggestions and give sound advice to us budding writers. I'll certainly recommend your courses. Thank you for a very well organized and interesting online course. John Harper  

The lessons were very informative. The sequence led me through the process of creating a story (i.e., a first draft) --something I had not done before. I learned a lot. I think I could take the class again and learn it a second time! Gloria gave excellent, very personal critiques with suggestions on how to make use of them as we moved on to the next lesson. She was helpful, sympathetic, and encouraging when one class member encountered unavoidable computer & personal problems. [With Writers.com] I've never been without a class I wanted to take. Marge Osborn

This [The Hero's Journey for Storytellers] was the best writing class I've ever taken. Second best was Gloria's Shadow Writing class. Gloria is the best writing teacher I have had. She is wholeheartedly committed to helping her students. Antoinette Armocida

The specific prompts helped me to focus on things I needed to work on. Gloria is helpful and insightful. She is very experienced and explained concepts well. Amelia Wood

Having a mentor like Gloria launched me into a whole new career. I have now published over 100 articles and 3 books, teach writing seminars, and landed a position in the editorial department at a publishing company. Karan Gleason

The class gave me a whole new and satisfying direction in my writing. I don’t think I could have gotten there without this class. I now know what I want to focus on and I am so happy… Gloria is a star. A great teacher and a nice person. She really knows her stuff and presented it in a way that kept me enthusiastic and motivated… Offer more classes by Gloria! Justine Owen

Gloria offered specific suggestions and brainstormed with me frequently without suggesting that I conform to her style. I can honestly say that I came away encouraged and motivated after every contact. Dudley Delffs

The long winding road to publishing my initial manuscripts were shortened after attending Gloria’s classes. I exceeded my goals by publishing 30 articles my first year! Christina Carrigan

I was very pleased with both the content of the class and with the expertise and sensitivity of the instructor, Gloria Kempton… Gloria’s classes were very well thought out and organized. She presented the written lectures in an easy to understand format, and included questions designed to provoke thought and insight for her students. She showed a personal, genuine interest in each one of us, and was always willing to help us in our writing efforts. Her commentaries on our work were tactful, always offering positive guidance, and full of “atta boys” that we all need. She made us “feel like writers” from day one… Again, I was very pleased with the entire experience with taking a class through Writers on the Net. The format is so easy to use, and is ideal for those of us trying squeeze writing classes in between work and family obligations. Even though the idea of an internet class provides a degree of anonymity, I very much felt like a part of a “class”, and the names on my inbox indeed became friends after the eight weeks together. I came away from the class with definite improved skills, and the determination to continue with my writing efforts. Thank you for making this avenue of study possible! Candy Calvert

I was very impressed with the format of the class and the subject matter… Gloria is an excellent instructor and uses this medium well. I felt she gave us enough information to provide a well rounded perspective, to encourage us to think – and not become overwhelmed. The assignments were diverse enough to challenge us and keep us focused on the process of “Discovering our Niche”. She was able to effectively project her personality across the miles, develop relationships with us, and empower us with a belief in our own writing abilities. Somehow, she was able to diplomatically walk the fine line of fairly critiquing our work and at the same time, keeping us motivated… I am telling my new writer friends about Writers.com. Gloria encouraged us to get involved with other writers groups, which I am now doing — and spreading the word about how great you are!… I look forward to another class — well worth the investment in time and money. Carole Borah

I really enjoyed the class and Gloria was GREAT!!! Taught me a lot about writing and a lot about myself… I never thought that I could write and I have found an inner voice that I never knew that I had… You have an excellent platform and excellent teachers (and the price is good. too). I have looked into other programs that cost twice to three times as much and I doubt that they can be that much better… Thanks a bunch Gloria… you are great!!!… Thanks for being there… it has opened up a whole new arena for me…. to the good… and I now realize I not only “don’t” want to go back to where I was…. I cannot. Jena Johler

[Gloria] is amazingly insightful and encouraging without holding back the needed criticism. Joe Plemon

Discovering your writing niche” proved to be very beneficial. Each of the assignments were appropriately linked to the corresponding lesson. At the completion of each assignment I was left with a definite feel for what I liked or didn’t like to write. I was very happy with the content and the manner in which it was presented. Gloria Kempton did a fine job teaching. Connie Ong

I just finished a class with Gloria Kempton. She has been an excellent writing coach; I’ve learned so much in such a short time. I appreciate her thorough critiques of my work, and her suggestions were straightforward and easy to follow. Most importantly, she did two things no other instructor has done so far. First, she made us stick to the guidelines she set for the assignment. That was great! What better way to get us ready for the world of publication than to make us work like writers! Finally, she taught us the basics of HOW to market our work. As I said, I’ve taken five of your courses. Gloria’s class (for the amount of time we had), ranked up there with my graduate level writing classes. I am so grateful to have been her student. I look forward to taking future classes with Writers.com. Linda Kulp

About Gloria Kempton

Gloria Kempton is the author of seven nonfiction self-help books and two young adult novels, as well as hundreds of short stories, essays, personal experiences, personality profiles, how-to's, and feature articles for a number of national magazines including Writer's Digest. For three years she wrote a column for single parents in a parenting magazine. Her book, Dialogue, was published by Writer’s Digest Books in 2004 and is still selling well.

She is the former Managing Editor of Parents of Teenagers magazine and was a freelance book editor for nine major publishers including Harper Collins. She is a former contributing editor for Writer’s Digest magazine. She continues to critique and edit both fiction and nonfiction for individuals, as well as coaching writers one-on-one on any aspect of fiction, nonfiction, marketing, or the writing life.

Gloria teaches at writers conferences and has served on several writer's conference boards and program committees, including the Pacific Northwest Writer's Conference, and chaired their midwinter conference for two years.

She has most recently published a correspondence course, The Outlaw’s Journey; A Mythological Approach to Storytelling for Writers Behind Bars, which she is now taking into correctional institutions around the country. She’s currently writing a book based on the material in this course.

Read more about Gloria on her web site: http://gloriakempton.com/

Gloria's Courses