Monday, June 29, 2009

World Building

Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey

Last Saturday I attended a world building seminar at the Provo Library. It was taught by Stacy Whitman who is a freelance editor for children/YA lit - you can find her website here. It was a 4 hour seminar and I learned a lot. The main idea that I took from it came from the discussion on the magic system. A magic system has to have rules and those rules, once established, need to be upheld throughout the story. This is not a new concept for me, but what was kind of an "aha" idea was that I need to understand the "cost" or the "opportunities" that can come to the main characters because of the rules that have been established. I think I have already been doing that in my book, but this put it into perspective as to why I need to remember this concept as I write. The Rules can be used to help create tension in the story and I need to understand the rules to know how to get around them. Again, these aren't really new concepts for me, but it gave me a clearer understanding now of how to use the magic system to drive my story.

Another concept Stacy talked about was "Campbell's Hero Cycle." This is probably not new to most of you, but it is to me and I find it to be a very helpful tool to use in helping to plot my story.
Stacy was having difficulties bringing this diagram up on the screen so I looked it up when I got home and I put a copy of it above, but to see it bigger you can find it here. Joseph Campbell wrote a book titled "The Hero of a Thousand Faces." In his book, according to wikipedia - Campbell explores the theory that important myths from around the world which have survived for thousands of years all share a fundamental structure, which Campbell called the monomyth. In a well-known quote from the introduction to The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell summarized the monomyth:
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.[2]

I found his Hero Cycle to be very interesting and helpful. It is putting everything into perspective for me. I plan on getting a copy of his book now so that I can explore his theory's in more depth.

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