The Writer’s Journey: Intro

Allow me to introduce to you a serial I’m about to start here on my blog. I’ve been edging my through The Writer’s Journey (Mythical Structure for Writers) by Christopher Vogler, taking it down section by section. Instead of an every-other-week book review I’m going to progressively work my way through reviewing Vogler’s book!

Before I get into all that other review stuff, let me say this simple review: GET THIS BOOK! (I wrote that in all-caps which means it’s important, right?). But in truth, if you’re a writer, you really should get this book. Seriously. Hopefully my drawn out review will help make that clearer.

The thing is, I’m not really going to be tackling this from a reviewing sense. I’ll be approaching it in more of a; here are somethings Vogler mentions, here are some things I’ve learned because of that, and here are some of my ideas. I’ll start things off with character archetypes and those should get us through the end of the year and a little bit beyond that.

Vogler lists eight different common and useful archetypes: Hero, Mentor, Ally, Herald, Shadow, Trickster, Threshold Guardian, and Shapeshifter. I’ll be working my way down this list so Hero is up first. But I’m not starting quite yet. First, I’d like to offer some explanation over archetypes.


Def: An archetype is an original model of a person, ideal example, or a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated; a symbol universally recognized by all. In psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, personality, or behavior.

Archetypes are the people within your story. Whether you know it or not, every one of your characters are based on one or more archetypes. One or more? Yes, one or more and in best cases: more. Vogler uses the idea of masks to explain archetypes. They “are worn by the characters temporarily as they are needed to advance the story.”

This is something important to understand. Your hero doesn’t always have to play the role of the hero. He can play the role of a mentor, a herald or even a trickster while still being the story’s hero. Allowing yourself to vary a character’s role also allows you to make them less stiff.

Keep this in mind when reading through my “reviews” on archetypes over the next few weeks. A varied character is much more interesting than one that sticks to a single archetype.

~ by R.S.Sharkey on October 3, 2012.

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