December 22, 2014
April 23, 2014
Hero's Journey, Novel, writing Beauty and the Beast, blog, Common Day, crossing the threshold, Disney, Fantasy, flight, lord of the rings, personal, Superman, supreme ordeal, The Mighty Ducks, Writing 1 Comment
Last time we delved into The Supreme Ordeal, today it’s all about the Flight.
Okay, so the hero has defeated the enemy (or at least escaped unscathed, well maybe scathed, but he/she is definitely still alive.) Great, but what’s next?
Now, it’s time to run. Run like heck. Run like he/she has never run before and never look back. Chances are the hero is being pursued most likely by someone or something really big, really mean, and with one agenda, to kill him/her.
The goal is one fold: Get back to Common Day.
But it can NEVER be as simple as that can it? Of course not! We’re talking about heroes here!
So to understand the stage of Flight, it is necessary to understand that all important Threshold Crossing, that moment that is supposed to bring joy and peace and happiness and ever after.
What You Need to Know:
There will be another threshold struggle that the hero must undergo. After all, he/she didn’t get into this world without a fight, so what makes them think they can get out so easily. Oh, they’re heroes now? Big, strong saviors of the world? Well, that just means that their struggle will be that much harder, multiplied exponentially.
Four ways this will be played out in what we in the biz call The Road Back: (And by the biz, I really just mean me at me keyboard…)
1. The Return
One of the greatest examples of a Return appears in the Lord of the Rings (novel version). The films had to cut this scene due to the 50 endings already in the movie. (Even though when the hobbits return to the Shire the events that transpire are absolutely critical to one of the themes in the story and by not including it they nearly destroyed the entire brilliance of the epic reducing it to a minor farce, nearly.)
But that is a rant for another day.
Instead, what I’m referring to is the all important “Scouring of the Shire”. For those who haven’t read it, when the four hobbits return to their eutopic Shire after saving Middle-Earth, they find that it is over run by Saruman and evil men. They then lead a force to expel Saruman and the men from the Shire thus saving their paradise. Thus in the midst of their Return, they must once and for all fight an enemy to ensure their safety.
What can be better than an example from Lord of the Rings? One from Disney of course! One of the best, and my personal favorite, of the Disney Princess movies is Beauty and the Beast. In here we have a glorious example of a resurrection.
Okay, take yourself back to that moment. Gaston has just stabbed the beast, and now Beast throws his sorry behind off the castle roof. Belle sees Beast is hurt. Beast is dying. Belle is crying. Beast is dead.
“What the crap?! I thought Disney movies were love stories! Man, I hate this movie!” Says my 6 year old self, and yours too.
But wait. What’s this? Belle says she loves him before the rose pedal hits the floor and BOOM! Evil magic undone, Beast is now a handsome BEAST, and they live? H.E.A. That’s right. He came back from the dead. No way! (But then again, this happens often in Disney doesn’t it? It’s like they have a resurrection complex.)
Also known as Deus Ex Machina in Latin for Cop Out (I mean God from the Machine), a Rescue is the moment when all is lost then Whoa! (like Joey form Blossom) everything gets fixed. One of the best examples is Superman the Movie (1978). Okay, full disclosure, I love me some Supes. And Christopher Reeves Supes is iconic. BUT, you have to scratch your head at the ending. So, there’s this horrific earthquake, Lois dies and all is lost. But wait. If Superman flies fast enough in outer space, he can reverse the Earth’s rotation? (Nevermind the gravitational forces and tide issues this can cause.) But besides all that, reversing the Earth’s rotation can reverse time!? Oh man! Talk about a
cop out awesome ending or in other words, a Rescue! God comes down (or flies up?) at the last moment and saves everyone.
And if you don’t like Supes, then what about the Eagles in Lord of the Rings? See, it’s always a good example.
4. Refusal of Return
Sometimes the new World of Adventure is so exciting and changes the hero so much that he/she cannot return. Such is the case with Coach Bombay in The Mighty Ducks.
For those who can’t remember my childhood coaching idol, Gordon Bombay, his journey started as a star lawyer in a high priced law firm, Ducksworth and Assoc. When he gets arrested for drunk driving, he is sentenced to coach an ailing pee wee hockey team, District 5. (A sport which we know from the opening credits that he was really good at playing as a kid.) Antics ensue, a love interest is formed, and Gordon fights against being in his new world.
Then towards the end before the big game against his old coach and rival, Bombay is given the opportunity to leave the coaching world and return to the law firm. But Gordon doesn’t take it. Instead, he gives his old boss and namesake of the Mighty Ducks a very inspiring lecture about what being a part of a team means.
“You may have paid for that jersey, sir, but you didn’t earn it,” says he to Ducksworth. (Of course after having repeatedly quacked at him.)
And for those of you who question whether Gordon Bombay can be included in the list of heroes, consider this:
(Special thanks to Jose Mendoza at instagram @greenzombify)
Next time we will discuss the final stage of the Hero’s Journey in The Return With The Elixir.
Peace and Long Reads
November 1, 2013
Last time we delved into the Belly of the Whale, today it’s all about the Supreme Ordeal.
The Supreme Ordeal
This is the seminal moment in the story. This is where it all comes together. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. This is the moment the protagonist finally takes on the mantel of the hero and has his/her standoff with the main antagonist.
There are four ways in which this occurs:
1. Sacred Marriage
This type of ordeal can sometimes be named the the “Goddess Meeting” but this is more of a misnomer. The idea is that the protagonist needs help from the opposite sex. If the hero is a boy he needs a girl’s help, and vice-versa. There could be an actual meeting with a goddess, or this help can come from the female character using her powers to join with the male character’s, or she could simply save the hero from certain doom. Either way, the significance is found in the protagonist needing the opposite sex. A number of examples include Trinity and Neo, Frodo and Galadriel, or Luke and Leia.
2. Father Atonement
This is where the hero must defeat his father as the main antagonist. Often, it is a reconnecting for the two of them. For a classic case, just think of Luke and Darth Vader. (Or Buzz and Zurg, if you’re a kid at heart.)
The apotheosis is where the hero must finally become a full master of his powers in order to defeat the enemy. Sometimes he doesn’t become a master, but discovers his powers in victory. Either way, think of it as becoming godlike. A great example is Neo. Once he accepts his true identity as “the one” he can do anything.
4. Elixir Theft
This is the hero confronting his arch-enemy and in defeat of him, steals a prize possession. Sometimes the hero kills his enemy, sometimes he lets him live, but the focus should be on a stolen item. Classic case: Bilbo Baggins and Smaug.
At the conclusion of this stage we should see a quick unravelling of the story as we speed through our last two stages beginning with, Flight.
Peace and Long Reads
October 20, 2013
Last time we discussed the Road of Trials in the Hero’s Journey, up next is the Belly of the Whale.
The Belly of the Whale
After a long and arduous journey from leaving the comfort zone and traipsing through untold toils, the hero will eventually find himself/herself trapped in the antagonist’s backyard.
The name for this stage obviously comes from the Biblical story of Jonah famously misinterpreted by Disney in a scene in Pinocchio, (Jonah was neither in a whale nor alive). But just as Pinocchio faced certain death with no escape, so too do heroes.
A classic example is Frodo and Sam in Mordor.
But the convention has existed in myriad other stories such as the aforementioned Pinocchio as well as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, or Luke in Return of the Jedi just to name a few.
The overarching idea here is that the hero is trapped and must somehow defeat his/her enemy to find a way out. Frodo is stuck in Mordor, Pinocchio is in the Whale, Dorothy is locked in the Witch’s castle, and Luke is on the New Death Star.
All of this stage really accomplishes is to foreshadow and set-up the Supreme Ordeal which we will unravel next time.
Peace and Long Reads
September 26, 2013
Well, my long awaited 10 year reunion was this weekend. And having it come and gone, I’m left with a number of striking thoughts.
First and foremost, it was so great to see everyone I talked with. It’s amazing to me the changes we all went through, and the people we have become. For the most part, everyone was pretty classy.
But I think there is a shared experienced of nervousness, fear, and wonder when it comes to 10 year reunions. Looking out across the resplendent old church turned reception hall, I recognized a number of different people types.
First, there was the noticeable absence of those who refused to come at all. Most of their sentiments leading up the big day were that there was no need to go because they either didn’t care about the people from high school or everyone they wanted to talk to they did so already in their everyday lives. I find this a shame. There were some faces I had hoped would change their mind if nothing more than to hear their sarcastic humor.
Next, there were those who came to show off some aspect of their life that they were proud of. These people rightfully so had reason to be proud, but in my opinion that incentive seems shallow. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited for those that are doing extremely well, but I also didn’t go to school in the richest neighborhood. So, to come back for the sole purposes of looking good seemed like trying to stick it in peoples’ noses.
But to be fair, these people were few and far between. I honestly can’t remember more than one person who seemed like this was his reason.
Then, there were those that came rather courageously despite feeling they had failed at life in the past 10 years and were ashamed, thus needing much alcohol to cope. I feel that these people put more pressure on themselves than needs be. Let’s face it, life is tough. We all make bad decisions, some stick with us longer than others, but in the end if you are living the life you wanted when you graduated, then you are a success. If not, there is always tomorrow. And, truly, I applaud those that might have come feeling this way for coming anyway.I do not say brave lightly.
And then there were those who came simply to see old, familiar faces. It was easy to see the joy in their eyes at seeing old friends many of whom they hadn’t seen since that warm night in June. There was genuine excitement and heartfelt hugs given when eyes met across the room. And some people, though their outward appearance had matured, seemed to just pick up right where they left off. That, to me, was the best part of the night. For a brief moment, everyone was taken back to their best moments of high school without all of the anxiety that accompanied them the first time.
For me, in truth, I went for all of these reasons. Initially I refused to go because of a stuck up attitude that I didn’t need to see anyone from high school. I’m glad my wife’s encouragement overruled that sentiment and removed that attitude from me.
And I have to admit that a part of me did come with a bit of pride in wanting to show off my extremely beautiful wife and darling children (It’s hard not to) but it wasn’t my sole purpose.
Also, I know I sure felt like a failure for having a goal of losing weight and through adding a child and injuring myself didn’t come close to meeting it. But i had to teach myself that little bit of truth that there’s always tomorrow to start.
And lastly, and most influentially, I went to see old faces I hadn’t in 10 years. I felt a little like Frodo in the Lord of the Rings, when they all gathered back in the Shire after everything. There were stories to tell, and everything was the same yet different. We had all matured and aged, but in those few fleeting hours we all found a little bit of youth. Priceless.
My was it a beautiful experience. Many faces looked exactly the same, others were completely different, but I think what I came away with from the night the most was that we as people need 10 year reunions not from some selfish pride or masochistic need to pity ourselves but to reassure ourselves how similar we all really are; life just takes many different paths and manifests itself in many different forums.
I, for one, have a full heart for having gone and can’t thank my wife enough for being my encouragement to do so.
To all of those whom I caught up with, you are all so beautiful and amazing for joining me in a night of reminiscence and new perspectives.
And to all who are nearing their 10 year reunion, go. You never know what insights you will gain of yourself and life if you don’t. Besides, your 10 year reunion only comes once in a lifetime.
Peace and Long Reads,
July 8, 2013
Last time in our discussion of the Hero’s Journey we looked at The Refusal of The Call.
Today, we will unravel the necessity or or lack thereof of The Helper.
In this deadly and unknown world of adventure fraught with hazards at every turn, the hero will unwittingly need assistance to finish the task. His life hanging in the balance, this help will come in 4 different archetypes some of which can be played by the same character.
The Ally comes along the journey with the hero in one of two ways.
First, you have:
The “Already a Hero” Ally
This is the character with the expertise, experience, and exponential reserve to see the hero to the end. He has walked in the hero’s shoes therefore giving him/her the best perspective on what the hero is dealing with. An example of this archetype might be Strider from Lord of the Rings. (I know you might argue that since he is really Aragorn he fits in the lower category, but just remember that these are fluid archetypes. Characters can slip in and out depending on the story. But just for the sake of argument, this is the Aragorn from Fellowship whom we called Strider when we first met him.)
Or you might have:
The “Becoming a Hero” Ally
Here, the ally is on the journey for the same reasons as the hero. Both are searching for their confirmation in the hero realm. This ally might have special abilities that separate him/her from the hero, and he/she might be on his/her own hero’s journey. But it is the lack of experience that defines this archetype. There are a million to choose from, but keeping with the Lord of the Rings theme, any one of the three hobbits accompanying Frodo would fit this description.
Moving on to the second archetype.
In this case, the helper is either one of two extremes. He/she is either essential or just filler.
Case in point, take Robin.
At times Robin is the most ridiculous, annoying, in-the-way-hero helper… ever! I look at him and want to slap the lame out of him. It’s as if DC Comics thought Batman needed someone to stand next to to make him look cooler.
But then came George Clooney’s nipple suit, and suddenly the boy wonder was not only much tougher, he seemed necessary. (He still looked stupid, but at least he saved Batman’s life on occasion.)
Archetype number 3.
This archetype is similar to the “Already a Hero” Ally except for one small difference. The Mentor will be an experienced member of the journey who has “been there before” much like the similar Ally. This archetype might even pass on knowledge like the Ally. But the distinction between Ally and Mentor occurs when the Mentor steps out of the way to allow the hero the grow up and become the hero. Without this subtle action, the hero would never rise to the occasion. He/she would rely on the Mentor instead of solving his/her own problems.
A great example of this is Qui-Gon Ginn.
(The caption is for those purists out there. I know what you are thinking.)
Just think about the end of A Phantom Menace.
The Supernatural Aid
This is the helper who uses, you guessed it, supernatural forces i.e. magic to accomplish the end goal. It’s really just as simple as that. The Supernatural Aid uses magic. A good example would be Merlin. (Gandalf is just too easy.)
And there you have it. Remember, some characters may play one or more archetypal roles. For instance, Gandalf would be considered, a Mentor, and a Supernatural Aid. Aragorn could, at times, be considered an Ally, a Mentor, and a Supernatural Aid. (If you count him being the only person able to get the army of the dead to fight in the war.)
Next time, we will discuss The Threshold of Adventure and what happens when it is crossed.
Peace and Long Reads
June 29, 2013
Last time in our discussion of the Hero’s Journey we looked at The World of Common Day.
Today we will venture into the excitement of The Call to Adventure.
The Call to Adventure
In this progression of the ordinary Joe Shmoe becoming a hero, we see that there is a moment when the safety net of The World of Common Day will be taken away, and the hero is compelled to make a choice to leave. This can occur in two possible scenarios.
Scenario One: The Inward CallIn this scenario, the hero has a strong desire to see “what’s out there”. There is often a pining for stories of other heroes and adventures and expressions of boredom with his/her common day. Sometimes the hero’s desires may be squelched, but eventually those roadblocks are taken away and he/she is free to pursue the adventure. An example for this can be found once again in the iconic Star Wars.
As we last left Luke, he was drowning his sorrows in his blue milk wanting to join the Rebels in their fight against the Empire. His uncle played the killjoy and refused to let him leave, promising just “one more season”. But as Luke runs into a stubborn little astrodroid named R2D2 with a penchant for running away, he is forced into abandoning his homestead just as Imperial troops arrive to destroy it and his family. (This is the roadblock being removed.) As sad, and slightly horrifying, as this moment is, Luke is now free to follow his longing to leave and join Obi-Wan and the Rebels and begin his journey.
Scenario Two: The Outward Call
In this scenario, there is some force compelling the hero to take action and leave behind his/her boring life. Most often, the hero is not looking for adventure and is as peachy as can be in his/her comfort zone.
But along will come some person or item that will warn of danger. And in some cases, the hero simply gets kidnapped and forced on to the journey. Usually there will be a constant pining for home or at the very least a desire to know how everyone at home is coping.
The best example for this (though since this story was published many have copied it) is The Lord of the Rings.
I’ll wager to guess you were even already thinking about it.
Little old Frodo, comfy and cozy, living with his uncle in a beautiful shire has no thought of the outside world. Though he knows of his uncle Bilbo’s adventures, he spends his days having fun with his pals. Then along comes news of Bilbo’s ring and the danger with it, and Frodo is all of a sudden forced out of his home and onto the road of sure death. Goodbye safety net, hello adventure.
The next stage in our journey will find both Luke and Frodo unsure of what to do. More on this next time.
Peace and Long Reads