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The Hero's Journey




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"...At heart, despite its infinite variety, the hero's story is always a journey.  A hero leaves her comfortable, ordinary surroundings to venture into a challenging, unfamiliar world.  It may be an outward journey to an actual place: a labyrinth, forest or cave, a strange city or country, a new locale that becomes the arena for her conflict with antagonistic, challenging forces.

But there are as many stories that take the hero on an inward journey, one of the mind, the heart, the spirit.  In any good story the hero grows and changes, making a journey from one way of being to the next: from despair to hope, weakness to strength, folly to wisdom, love to hate, and back again..."

- Christopher Vogler, The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Storytellers and Screenwriters.

This chart was inspired by a similar chart in Christopher Vogler's book.  The chart compares stages of Christopher Vogler's terms versus Campbell's terms for the Hero's Journey.  I wanted to include terms used in the Dramatica theory of story also, which I recently discovered, and have found immensely useful  (To learn more about The Dramatica Theory of Story, visit www.storymind.com or www.dramatica.com because it simply is way too much to even scratch the surface here).  This is done to illustrate that although the differing methods of analysis may be used and although the terms may differ, the overall Hero's Journey remains the same.  Although many maintain that the Hero's Journey as presented, along with the more over-arching Monomythic structure, applies to all stories,  I humbly disagree.  I can think of many stories that do not adhere to these principles.

However, I will wholeheartedly agree that stories that strive to be mythic or are archetypal in nature, cannot fail but adhere to these precepts even when done so by accident.  As an aside, I bring up a curious example I experienced firsthand.  At GENCON 2001, I had the privilege to beta play a game called Primeval In simplest description, the game was a competitive interactive storytelling game where each player tried to "out-tell" the other players.   Players were making up stories "on the fly" or with mere minutes to contemplate what their actions would be.  I had a fantastic time.  Afterwards I commented to a friend of mine that subconsciously, all the players had followed the Hero's Journey model in creating their stories.  I seriously doubt if any of them were aware that they were doing it.  But it is interesting that at least in this example, the Hero's Journey and the archetypal structure of the Monomyth were demonstrated to exist as a subconscious pattern in the mind.  Jung knew this and spoke of it when describing his archetypes and when speaking on his dream analysis.  The Dramatica Theory of story talks of a concept called the "Storymind", the premise is that each complete Grand Argument Story represents the problem solving process of a single human mind.  Hence, why I felt it was appropriate to include Dramatica stages to the chart.  (Special thanks to J. Mozingo, from whose chart I borrow liberally.)