Tuesday, February 7, 2012
The Call to Adventure
I just read The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler and learned some valuable lessons. Everything in writing, whether fiction or non fiction is related to life in some way. One of the ways an audience can relate to a character is the exciting yet ominous Call to Adventure that looms in life from time to time. It is perfectly normal for a character to reject the call of adventure at first, but in order to keep the story moving, he or she must accept it at one point. The same is true in the real world. Opportunities may knock from time to time, but they don't mean anything unless they are acted upon.
It's interesting that I'm somewhat of a passive character in reality, but I write assertive and motivated characters that eventually find their purpose and meaning in life. I learned this by reading about The Hero's Journey, and The Character Arc. In order for a story to even be considered, the characters must grow and change. If the journey leaves them the way they are, it isn't a story, or a journey.
This is why stories are so important from generation to generation. They teach us to grow, while we watch characters make choices and learn from them. We can identify with the archetypes of the wanderer, trickster, orphan and hero so easily that most films feature at least one of them to move the story along.
Even writers have to go out and live life, but I had forgotten that. I was wasting away, trying to understand why my stories and characters had become bricks, roughly formed and almost shapeless. Writers always put a piece of themselves into a story. If they don't, it's not a good story. I had been putting my negative outlook on life, and my constant doubt in myself on countless pages. Before I knew it, my characters were seeing their world as a dreary, grey place, and they had begun to doubt themselves.
I had forgotten that I am a creator. And creators reflect their image, emotions and themselves into their creations. Knowing that, creating sounds like an act of responsibility. In a way, it is.
A creator must develop a certain reality, that reflects the things they know, and want to share with their audience. An actor must find the part of themselves that fits the role they play. A song can only sound honest and real when the person singing has a passion for the meaning in the lyrics. The same is true of stories.
An author finds the archetypes within and puts them on the page. Past experiences, current emotions and the knowledge the author has gained reflects the true world of the story. Without it, the story becomes a two- dimensional, or even one-dimensional piece with no meaning or purpose. It has to be something you want to write, or feel you need to write. Without the motivation to do so, the story becomes damaged instantly.
This is why an author cannot refuse to answer the Call of Adventure. For in order to write something, you have to feel a connection to it, and if you don't, you aren't ready to write it.
This book walked through stories like The Wizard of Oz, Titanic, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King and Star Wars to show the Hero's Journey at work. The amazing thing is that we relate to these stories, even without knowing the Archetypes, Hero's Journey, Myth Quest or the Call to Adventure. Because they are parallel to situations in life, they are memorable and timeless.
All stories, even real ones have a Call to Adventure. The important thing is to answer it, and learn from the Hero's Journey.