EJ DeBrun: Recap
By Michael O’Haver

The Hero’s Cycle: A Quick Overview of the Monomyth

When stories are told, whether in books, on film at the movies, or on TV, writers often use Christopher Vogler’s Monomyth, the Hero’s Cycle. It comes in three acts:

Act 1 – The Setup-what’s normal, may include some backstory, an inciting incident happens, rising action follows and what is at stake is made clear.

Act 2 – The hero may show reluctance to step up. Often a mentor is found that urges the hero on. There may be a plot twist that sets the scene for the finale.

Act 3 – The hero comes through and saves the day.

The hero – Makes the key decisions and reaps the consequences. He provides readers the window into the story. He must provide growth, action and sacrifice and deal with death.

Shadow – Represents the negative force working against the hero’s progress. It can be a human figure, an external force, or a deeply repressed aspect of the hero.

Mentor – Teaches and protects the protagonist, provides gifts the hero needs to complete his journey. Sometimes the hero himself is his own mentor. The mentor’s character is optional, his function is not.

Threshold Guardian – This is the roadblock that sets up the conflict. His form may vary but his function is to test the hero. He may or may not be the main antagonist.

The Antagonist or the bad guy is the one who doesn’t grow or change. He can have some redeeming qualities but must hold fast to his bad-guyness.

The Protagonist or hero is the guy who changes or grows. He should have some flaws. His growth need not be explicit it can be implied, at the end.

Modern stories have multilayered plots. It is OK to change the Point of View. The internal journey of the characters makes the connection with the audience. You can turn a bad guy into a good guy if you remain true to the characters’ qualities.

Star Wars was used as an example – Luke Skywalker – farm boy who’s called to become a Jedi and the hero. He is reluctant to take up the challenge and save the princess. Han Solo grows from a Soldier of Fortune to a true hero. Obi-Wan Kenobi is the mentor. And of course, Darth Vader and the Emperor are the bad guys.

Good Books—A Writer’s Journey & The Hero With a Thousand Faces (by Joseph Campbell)

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