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The Hero's Progression

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

  1. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    In Sacred Narrative: Readings in the Theory of Myth (1984), editor Alan Dundes dismisses Campbell's work, characterizing him as a popularizer: "like most universalists, he is content to merely assert universality rather than bother to document it. […] If Campbell's generalizations about myth are not substantiated, why should students consider his work?

    Hero's journey - Wikipedia

    The idea that allthe great stories going back thousands of years all follow Campbell's monomyth is an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence. From the sounds of it that evidence hasn't been documented.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I agree. I read Hero with a Thousand Faces back in the 70s and was interested but not persuaded. That is, however, beside the point. This is off topic and does not contribute to the original question, as I said before.

    So let's either drop this or move it to it's own thread, ok?
     
  3. I realized reading that Wikipedia article that my WIP actually IS a hero's journey. I made one by accident!

    Yes, it is missing some steps, and my MC's journey isn't so much becoming ordinary --> becoming extraordinary as learning to face her vulnerabilities and inner demons. It's kinda funny to call in a hero's journey, too, since she's an antihero and the "refusing the call" kinda continues and resurges throughout the book...she doesn't want to be a hero at all. But I can see lots of parallels still.
     
  4. Now I'm trying to see if my OTHER stories are hero's journeys.

    Graphic novel idea--definitely not. It's something else. Part of the concept is that it takes place AFTER the hero's journey. Of course, it follows an episodic structure and many intersecting subplots, so I wouldn't expect it to.

    The expedition story--nope. Of course, I don't know much about this story, but I don't think it's a hero's journey.

    WIP that I quit temporarily--Not sure yet. There's a good chance that it is. It follows the rather standard "girl-finds-out-she-has-powers, baddies-are-after-girl, girl-finds-allies-to-fight-baddies, etc etc" plotline...The fact that I have two main characters complicates things.

    Until the Moss had Reached our Lips--nope. Not at all.

    I can think of so many instances in which the hero's journey is applicable. There's something so appealing about the classic MC-is-a-nobody, distaster-opens-MC-up-to-a-bigger-world, MC-begins-journey-to-transform-into-more-than-a-nobody....type plot. But there are so many instances in which it is NOT applicable.
     
  5. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

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    One of my WIPs is about the MC's descent into villainy as he becomes more and more powerful. I'm not sure about the other one but there will probably be elements of that too. I'm definitely a sucker for "power corrupts".
     
  6. Christopher Michael

    Christopher Michael Troubadour

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    Hey, guys. Knowing I'm as guilty as anyone else, how about we actually discuss this?


     
  7. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    One reason why the Hero's Journey gets talked about so much in our quarter is because we write fantasy. We write about heroes. It's less applicable to other genres. But as DragonOfTheAerie says, there are also tons of fantasy stories where it doesn't fit at all. So let's talk about that.

    I've realized that the convention of developing magical power rests on an assumption that is worth examining; namely, that magic power develop. That, in turn, most often involves either discovering powers that were innate, or in being trained/educated to acquire them. That doesn't need to be the case.

    We have people born to the nobility, to take a non-magical instance. No one suggests that nobility needs to be learned or earned. The character is noble from birth. That could be an interesting premise.

    Another approach could be something like hunting or combat skills, or any other skill that is learned at your parent's knee. Everyone has some degree of ability, even those who are impaired or timid or slow. But by adulthood it's assumed you will have whatever skills you will ever have. In this case, magic ability would be seen as unique to each tribe or clan or family group. Or even city or kingdom, much like a common diet or common laws.

    In another scenario, you might have power at puberty. It happens more or less in tandem with puberty. There it would be more of a rite of passage. Something to be endured with prospects of adulthood at the other end. The magic power might itself be limited or restricted. Just another aspect of maturity.

    For a specific example, I'm toying with this last one for my gnomes. They have exceptional ability in crafting and farming. I can see all gnomes acquiring their ability through puberty, with room for emphasis in this or that area, rather like someone who is naturally good at math or art. The magic power is real, but is so mundane no one would dream of pretending to be a gnome wizard. They would giggle at that.

    Anyway, hope some of these ideas spark some of your own.
     
  8. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    This is the reason my main character refused the offer of the mentor:
    Honestly Expressing Yourself - YouTube

    The idea of fighting as self expression. Not following the mentor's way or following his other recruits or the crowd. If one follows the guru as their first exposure to combat, his way is going to be crystallized in your mind. You're only going to be able to make variations of the foundations he set. When you're told this is the way to do things, the young open mind gets closed off to wild possibilities. The truth is alot of fantasy characters are reactively jumping through the challenges set by others - mentors especially - and being dragged along by others. For this, Eragon was the worst.

    My MC was smart enough to know even as a young lady, that her wild imagination would get closed off by this guy. That she would internalize the idea of; you can do this, but you can't do that.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017
  9. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    One of the many reasons I chafe at the Young Farmboy of Destiny is I think it gets the timing wrong.

    Teenagers are naturally rebellious. They tend to reject authority, so giving them a mentor isn't a good fit. I'm speaking of humans here. It is different with elves or dwarves.

    OTOH, it is well established that people around their mid-20s do in fact look for a mentor. It's a period of ten years or so, by which time most individuals move beyond their mentor to become their own person. Then, around 55-65, they tend to seek out the mentor role for themselves. I'm fascinated by the anthropology of maturity. Around 35 is when we outgrow our mentor. It can be no coincidence that the Romans made the minimum age for consul 35. Same as the age for American presidents. Or, to point to another, that automobile insurance companies impose an age premium on drivers under 25.

    But most fantasy stories of the YFD variety have a kid of fifteen or eighteen following and even seeking out a mentor. At that age, I was flinging mud in the face of every authority figure I could find. But by 24 or so, I most definitely looked for mentors. The ones I respected were not authority figures in the sense of parents or officials, but they were ones whose authority (in their subject area or other realm) I eagerly sought to understand.
     
  10. ascanius

    ascanius Inkling

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    Fighting as self expressions carries the prerequisite of having a mentor who trains the character to the point where they are capable of fighting/self expression. Bruce Lee had mentors who trained him. The good mentor is one who teaches without destroying the perspicacious mind.

    Also it is better to learn all that can be learned, instead of assuming that what others have to teach is without merit or fear at being unable to discern the lessons of value. Take your character for instance. It says a lot about her mental toughness if her spirit will be dominated by another. So too her resolve in the face of adversity.

    though, IMHO your spot on about Eragon.

    As to the op. Some characters start strong and stay strong others start weak. I think the important thing about the Heroes journey is not so much the steps but self assessment of the character to realize change, be it of self or the world around them.
     
  11. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    We're all born knowing how to fight as a means of self expression. Even an infant does that. It's outside influences that cause it to no longer be self expression. Bruce Lee's style was still a modified form of Kung Fu, with some grappling added and the more useless moves discarded. But still based on the Kung Fu he learned from Ip Man.

    Any mentor can only teach what they know. If they think fighting a certain way is going to get you killed, they're going to make sure you know it. Out of perfectly well meaning intentions. Let me ask you how many fantasy protagonists actually decide what the mentor's doing doesn't work for them and they're instead going down a radically different direction? No - fantasy protags follow the mentor's direction and base their fighting style around the mentor's because the mentor represents the animus, the aggressive father. The protagonist is typically dominated by them, To the point where they're just a younger copy of the mentor. Only when the mentor dies does the protagonist grow up and become a man. (The refused mentor doesn't die, or at least doesn't have to) And when he becomes a man, he becomes very strong in the face of adversity. So I argue that resolve and spirit don't have much to do with imagination and pioneering insight.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017
  12. ascanius

    ascanius Inkling

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    yes we are all born knowing how to fight but like any skill practice makes perfect. There is a vast difference between a child throwing a tantrum and what Bruce Lee is talking about. Even he says 'it is easy to put on a show but to truly express ones self is very difficult.' A child fighting and most fighting for that matter is a show, reaction to some stimuli. And it is a show because the whole purpose of the fight is to draw attention towards the individual. Child wants candy, fights with other child to get candy, or two guys trying to prove who is alpha, its a reaction and not at all what Bruce Lee is talking about. The fighting itself is not what makes it the expression but the conscious controlled will towards perfection. Bruce Lee is talking about going beyond reaction and taking control, forcing others to react to him. About moving with intent and 'not accepting anything less.' He is talking about him being proactive and forcing the world to react to him. Ask anyone who has been in a fight, or war, those who force the enemy to react to their will will win. There is more to what Bruce Lee is saying than simply fighting as expression. What you describe and talk about is vastly different than what he is talking about. Hell Bruce Lee even says it takes years of training to be able to express ones self in such a manner, you've reduced everything he said down to, fighting as expression.

    this is what I mean. Bruce Lee is talking about going beyond the emotionally satisfying reaction and forcing others to react. To take your example, simply deciding that the mentors style doesn't allow for self creativity and leaving is different from moving with intent and purpose to force the mentor to allow such creativity. One is simply running away for crap reasons the other is fighting to allow creative expression. Quitting because it doesn't allow creativity simply shows a lack of creativity.

    I disagree. Imagination and pioneering insight are pointless if a person doesn't have the resolve or spirit to put it to use, it just stagnates.

    Now, don't get me wrong I get what your getting at in regards to the OP, I disagree with how you got there. There are a lot of different ways the Mentor archetype can be approached, and the standard you are talking about can always be changed and played with.

    Did you ever wonder why the mentor archetype is the father figure? Most often the MC lacks a true father figure (orphaned, deadbeat dad, or father of weak moral character). The mentor is there to take that place and help the character become a man, or woman, to grow up, and instill the moral qualities needed to proceed in the story/life with success. The Mentor is there to challenge the MC without there being the actual risk of death.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  13. Christopher Michael

    Christopher Michael Troubadour

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    Brief rabbit trail: I would disagree with this. Most fantasy protags, at least in my experience, surpass their mentors. Yes, their initial forays are following the direction and style of the mentor, but as they master the art (mystic and/or combat), they reach a point where they are either greater than the mentor in some measurable ways, or they learn that the mentor did not teach them (was not capable of teaching them) everything.
    Case in point: Star Wars. Luke Skywalker was taught by Yoda and Obi-Wan a very specific, combat related, use of the Force. They needed him to be a warrior. However, in the Expanded Universe (now called Legends), he learned that the Force was much larger and deeper than that, and moved in a different direction that still utilized (though infrequently) the teachings of his mentors but also incorporated things he had to learn as he progressed.

    Actually, precisely the opposite of that is true- both in fiction and in life. You can't have resolve without insight, or spirit without imagination.
     
  14. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

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    In my WIP, I have three POV characters, one of which I regard as the MC. This MC is a NA-age young woman of means who is practiced at what she does, and doesn't know or find anyone who does it better. On the other hand, her skills aren't over-the-top powerful, either. Her parents died five years before the story starts, but she still has her twin sister. She doesn't join any kind of group. She does rebel against the sorceress-benefactor who took her in after her parents died. She is not trained by a mentor, though she does seek advice from a dragon who knows a good deal of the world's history. Does she become something extraordinary? Yes, but primarily through her own merits and determination, since for the most part everyone (including to some degree her sister and the dragon) advises her to go with the flow of events, to not try to exert her own will, because no one else thinks anything will come of her efforts. But she has her own morals, and though at times it is difficult to abide by them -- sometimes she slips -- in the end it is her creativity and determination to do what she believes is right that save the day, or at least prevent complete disaster.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  15. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    I think you're confusing motive with movement. We're not talking about motive or action vs reaction.The infant isn't lying to themselves purely in terms of movement - that's all we're talking about. The question is, does the infant move dishonestly once the fight starts. The answer is no, because it can't. The problem is that an "infant style" isn't effective so regression is not the answer.

    One has to be scientfic in addition to natural so of course practice makes perfect. Of course that doesn't necessarily mean practice with a mentor. My point is that Bruce Lee built upon Ip Man's Kung Fu. He didn't build his own original house, he modified and extended Ip Man's.

    Following the guru isn't taking control though. It's surrendering it.

    He was talking about committing to the movement and explosively. I'm not sure where you're getting "forcing the world to react to him". I don't know what you mean by that. I mean he's probably only going to fight for real if he's attacked, right? That's him reacting to a scenario, aka to the world. He wasn't proactively attacking people.

    I mean for christ's sakes, his style is called The Way of the Intercepting Fist. Interception is a reaction by definition.

    My point was I actually don't think you can quit for all practical purposes. It's beyond difficult to walk off into the unknown creatively while under the pressure of the animus. For any young person. Which is why I say very few do manage to tell the mentor they're going to train themselves instead. If the mentor knows alot more than you at that time, and is convinced it's a bad idea, can that student be called weak or uncreative for submitting to the mentor's wisdom? We have to ask ourselves what is weak? Weak is relative. There is a giant power imbalance present and inherent in the relationship that's undeniable. So relative to the mentor, the student is weak.

    Only if you let it.

    That's exactly why it's so difficult to reject the mentor's way once that relationship is established. Likely the protag may not even begin to think there's anything wrong with the training, when you're being reinforced in terms of praise from "big daddy" for doing one thing and scolded for doing the other. If you're being behaviourally reinforced into a certain mode of action, it's more difficult - not impossible- more difficult to break free.

    One has to weight that against the potential benefits of the mentor. But my protag knew that she would have to push herself into realms that he would deem life threatening, just to catch up with him.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  16. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    That's cos fighting arts advance over time and most protags by that point are comparing themselves to dead mentors.

    Edit - Also of course there's Chosen One power or destiny or whatever special power the protag has that causes them to be the star.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  17. Helen

    Helen Sage

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    In an origin story, you set the character up in an Ordinary World (which may or may not be a farm - Luke Skywalker, Clark Kent etc).

    If already extraordinary (e.g. Superman 2, Thor 2, Iron Man 2 etc), you still start by setting the character up in an Ordinary World. It's pretty much the same process, it's just more common to see the farm thing in the origin story.

    Watch the videos at KalBashir.com - he's very good at showing this.
     
  18. Futhark

    Futhark Inkling

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    My protagonists are already trained. They have just entered their Ordinary world, their jobs basically, that they are expecting. They have no mentor as such, it's their environment and colleagues that are now providing the challenges that will push them. Outside forces push them into the extra-ordinary, or adventure world, where life takes them on the unexpected journey. However, this is a Coming of Age and Overcoming the Monster story, rather than a Heroes Journey. Star Wars is clearly a Heroes Journey. I think Achilles was one too, and he started out powerful but had a mentor in Chiron (I think, my mythology is a little rusty). Buddha could be seen as a hero, and his journey starts out as a prince with everything. He never has a mentor, but he changes a great deal.

    As to Luke starting out as a Jedi. Well, it could have worked, but then that would be his ordinary world, not his adventure world. Lucas would have had to create a different world for Luke to enter, or change the structure to fit a flatter character arc, in which Star Wars would probably resemble a western.
     
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