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The Hero's Progression

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Dr Steve Brule, Feb 18, 2017.

  1. Christopher Michael

    Christopher Michael Troubadour

    You most definitely did. Here's someone talking about that very thing. MacBeth And The Tragic Hero's Journey by Carolee Dean
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I want to remind everyone on this thread that you are off topic. The OP asked a perfectly reasonable question and you are not responding to it. If you wish to argue about Joseph Campbell, please start your own thread. I shall repeat the original question.

    (also, kudos to the two who actually did reply to the question)

    >Do your heroes follow this path or were they already powerful to begin with? If you don't use this approach, how did you go about portraying your protagonist?

    See? Nothing there about the hero's journey. I'm not saying don't talk about it. I'm just saying you are like the rude guest at a party who comes in and blows up someone else's conversation.

    I have not done a growing-into-power story. Your question, Dr Brule, has made me only just realize that. The most powerful character I have is a barbarian princess who has a white sword that is eternally sharp, never stains, and mows down enemies. But *she* has no power. It's in the sword.

    That doesn't mean she doesn't grow, though. At the story's start, she is an exile (her people believe she's the magic, not the sword) among other exiled magicians. She is, however, a princess. Over the course of the story she emerges as a leader first of the exiles, then of her whole people. So that's the change--I prefer to think in terms of change rather than of growth.

    My other characters--sprite, ogre, dwarves, one human--all appear in short stories, so there's not much change there.

    I'm not sure that's much help. But maybe think in terms of change and realize that the individual's power may be at maturity, other aspects of their life may go through change. Also, I've long been interested in writing a story about a magician with failing powers, at the end of his life. Oh, and another one: the magician whose magic once did something terrible, so he's sworn off magic for years, now faces the need to use it again to save something he cares for.
    Reaver likes this.
  3. You just used two recipes. I said mix and match elements of recipes. Of course this doesn't mean mixing and matching Willy nilly, as you imply. It means mixing and matching elements of recipes with a specific and deliberate purpose.

    As for your question it's off topic to the thread so I elected to ignore it. The short answer is the test for a great author is a totality of the circumstances that includes critical acclaim, longevity of their stories, impact of their stories, executory skill in writing, sales, and host of other factors that are not determinative in themselves. This analysis is inherently fact based and cannot be answered in the abstract as you wish. Therefore your question is also irrelevant.

    ETA I wrote this at the same time as Skip did his. If you want to continue this discussion I'll be happy to do so in another thread. But as I said in my initial response, I have characters of varying power and ability but all of them grow in some way, whether that be in power or personality.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
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  4. Christopher Michael

    Christopher Michael Troubadour

    It depends on the genre and my audience. My current WIP? The guy starts out as a literally dead human being, and will ultimately grow into one of the most powerful Fire Sirens in history.
    Another work, currently back burner, involves a series of novels set in a universe where superpowers are real, but are kept secret. I'll have some start powerful and stay there, some start weak and gain power, some start powerful and lose it.
  5. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

    You make some good points here, BSA. Please don't sully it with personal barbs aimed at other members. You're a valued and respected member here who's made many excellent posts in our forums. We both know you're better than that.

    To everyone else, I'd like to reiterate what Skip stated earlier and what BSA also mentioned. Keep the conversation on topic or start another thread.

    Thanks for participating.
    Garren Jacobsen likes this.
  6. Sorry for the barb. I've had to deal with two things at work that required a more pointed argument style. I think it bled over here. I'll keep it in better check in the future.
    Reaver likes this.
  7. Russ

    Russ Istar

    I think that in a good story the character needs to grow or change in some significant fashion.

    That doesn't have to be from weak to powerful, but it can be. Personally I try to write works where the character goes from unjust to just, or from not wise to wise. There are lots of ways to change your character that can make for great story.

    JC talks about the structure of that journey and the structures derived from his studies can indeed be useful, particularly if structure is not your strong point.
    Christopher Michael likes this.
  8. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    I'm jealous. If anyone can teach me how to write bad ass heroines that swing swords that would be amazing. Mine just wield magic and the occasionally poisoned dagger!

    All heroes should take some sort of journey and if they don't, there's no story. There are some plot lines (like mystery) where the MC isn't required to change necessarily. So it depends on what you're writing.

    As for my stories, yes, the characters change. They have to. Romance requires a specific set of changes to occur within character that's tricky to time and gauge. Basically, it's not that easy getting two people to fall in love and stay that way. The other day, I received an email from a reader saying that the characters in the story she read were believable. I like...ran into the living room jumping up and down like a kid to tell my husband because holy shit! Is it not difficult to write believable characters! And the ones in that story had a ton of issues they needed to overcome before the end. A total emotional journey, but not a physical one. They stay in their town the entire time.

    It's not just about falling in love though. There are internal and external issues my characters have to deal with in order to make it to HEA. So a strong starting point is required. For example, WIP features two characters that have mad passion for one another but falling in love is in a different category. Countess is an icy woman and greatly feared by her people. Hero is a detective of her Royal Guard who falls under a curse and must overcome not only his embittered nature but also confess to the countess that he's using her in order to cure himself, because she holds the cure. The trope here is a quick affair leads to more, but the destruction of her throne is at hand, so not only do I have to get them to fall in love and stay that way, but they have to work together to save her throne because that's how it's done in this subgenre, and it's a huge headache. They take emotional and physical journeys to their goal and without any of that, there wouldn't be conflict, or a story.
    Reaver, Russ and glutton like this.
  9. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

    Off the top of my head, Pulp Fiction and Memento aren't typical hero's journey stories.

    In my story, Part 1:
    The "typical farmer MC", who is not actually the MC, He's just there to get things rolling and provide a B plot. He finds the main goddess early on, and has another female companion. He hides from bandits, tries and fails to rescue their horses, gets radiation poisoning early on and has to still walk to the capital. He's going to find out more about his brother's murder as only there can the only witness have her mind read. Once the goddess' mind is read it's revealed she has a dark counterpart, only then does he get notably stronger as he's trained by the Military's Captain as part of having to join the army and it's only for one panel. In the final battle he does kills some minions and plays a key role in initiating a major action sequence. He returns home having seen some crazy shit and being inspired by great sacrifice.

    Part 2:
    He saves his family from giant radioactive spiders. He then joins the counterattack to the source of the problem. He is kept from joining in by his wife, and then nature goddess saves them. She rushes ahead, sensing evil. He and others follow along only to find the ruins of the capital now a giant hole in the ground. They decide to keep going to the second strongest city further west. He and almost everyone else gets captured and enslaved there and taken to the villain's realm.

    Part 3:
    He alone is brave enough to go wandering alone in the villain's realm. Guided by the dead, he finds the main goddess who seriously injures him. He manages to escape with her sword and uses it to take on a whole army to try to find nature goddess. But in the act he is killed by the main villains lieutenant, but is then resurrected as a demigod, so he's far far far stronger than before. He kills that lieutenant, which is his final boss, and then goes home to try to restore order but it turns out the true MC banned him and others from her state. He challenges not the true MC (he'd get murderstomped) but rather the Military Captain who trained him to one round of combat as a bet. He wins and he gets his rights. For him thats the end.

    The real MC follows a different path. The character is static because it's about the struggle to maintain power and principles despite the transformative pressure of several impact characters one after the other. The question is can this character cross the finish line despite a weakening mental and physical state. How the character became powerful is told much later on in flashback.

    And then there's the hero's journey of the omnipotent main goddess, who goes from non sentient to sentient. She's not a narrative tool for the farmer along his journey. She has her own that merely intersects with his.

    In the complexity of an ensemble piece, journeys both typical and unconventional, are overlaid and are occurring parallel to each other. None of them were ever checked against the mono-myth, that's not the point. The point is to tell a story with heart and feeling. For example, include a mentor if he's integral to your vision. Not just because you're "supposed to". We don't need tacked on, generic characters.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
  10. I agree that in almost all cases, the main character must change throughout a story. It seems to me that if a main character doesn't change in a story, then the events of the story didn't really affect them on a deep level. And if the events in a story don't affect the main character on a deep level, how are they of significance to the main character? And if the story isn't of significance to the main character, then what's the point of the story?

    Say that I wanted a peach smoothie. (Not an uncommon occurrence.) But I didn't have the ingredients to make a peach smoothie. So I went on a journey to get the ingredients to make a smoothie. I could face all sorts of great challenges, like having to scrounge up loose change from the cushions of my couch to afford a trip to the store, a roadblock on the way to the grocery store, and not being able to find any peaches. (I don't know, I can't think of anything. There's a reason why people don't write stories about awkward dragons seeking smoothies.) But at the end of the story, if nothing changed except I didn't have a peach smoothie before and now I have one...it's kind of a pointless story.

    Most of the time the point/theme/deeper meaning of a story is vested in the change in the main character.

    But...there is seriously so much flexibility in how that change can manifest itself. A character can go through all kinds of change in a story, for better or for worse...so I don't think all stories need strict adherence to any structure.
  11. My stories tend to lack mentor characters, or at least have them play only a minor role.
  12. glutton

    glutton Inkling

    My heroes often serve a mentor-like role to someone else.
  13. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    I like the Unforgiven model, the bad man trying to be good, who fails miserably at it, LOL.
  14. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

    Hercules from Hercules:The Legendary Journeys is an example of a static character done well who obviously starts strong and stays paragon for all five seasons. He's the moral center from which everything else rotates. He inspires change in others by always presenting the right way to other characters. Even to King Arthur.
  15. Christopher Michael

    Christopher Michael Troubadour

    Curse and snare you! Now I need to write some flash fic with that premise.
  16. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

    Personally, I would hope that I don't have a tendency to write stories any particular way. I would rather that I can write a great many very differing types of stories depending on the elements that the stories require. However, I do not know yet. It still remains to be seen.
  17. My stories don't have villains, don't necessarily follow the Hero's Journey, and my characters don't usually save the world--they just live in it, or occasionally end up destroying it.
  18. Um, well, id read it. :p
  19. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Ooooh, the anti-hero. I love those. :D

    Suppose I have more allies than mentors. Allies can be antagonists, too. The only thing I care about is that my characters have one bff to confide in throughout the story because everyone needs a friend. Usually, that friend will act as a pusher, someone who tells MC the truth of how jacked up they're acting/being/thinking towards the end of story as a movational tool. Antagonists can serve this purpose, too and that's a real blast to write.
  20. Christopher Michael

    Christopher Michael Troubadour

    So...if they don't have villains- do they at least have antagonists? (Which is something completely different.)
    And is there any change in the protagonist? That's more important than anything else. (For the record, the reason I made the claim earlier that all, or nearly all, stories follow the Hero's journey isn't because of that book. It's because it is ingrained in us from a young age, as all the stories we are told as children, all the "great" stories of the past, follow that journey.)
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