65: The Power of Story Structure – Pacing and Excitement Unleashed

Discover the key plot points that drive the narrative, from the thrilling inciting event to the breathtaking resolution. Don’t miss this in-depth analysis of how structure plays a pivotal role in creating an unforgettable adventure.

Resources mentioned:

*The Hero with a Thousand Faces* by Joseph Campbell – https://www.amazon.com/Thousand-Faces-Collected-Joseph-Campbell/dp/1577315936/

*The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers* by Christopher Vogler – https://www.amazon.com/Writers-Journey-Anniversary-Library-Structure/dp/1615933239/

*The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’ Quest for Wholeness* by Maureen Murdock – https://www.amazon.com/Heroines-Journey-Womans-Quest-Wholeness/dp/1611808308/

*The Heroine’s Journey: For Writers, Readers, and Fans of Pop Culture* by Gail Carriger – https://www.amazon.com/Heroines-Journey-Writers-Readers-Culture/dp/1944751343/

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Transcript
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I was a pantser in the beginning, and I still pants it

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every now and then. But when I do I always go back and check

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for a strong story structure. What does it take to turn a

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blank page into a breathtaking adventure that leaves a lasting

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impression? And how can you make sure your pacing is right? How

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do you know if your story is exciting enough? The answer is

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story structure. Humans have been telling stories for

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millennia. So the art of storytelling isn't a secret.

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There's a beginning, a middle and an end. Without those three

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pieces. A story isn't really a story is it? We are used to

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telling stories to one another face to face chatting at the

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watercooler or over dinner telling our kids a bedtime

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story. But somehow, it hits differently when we set out to

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write a book, a novel, especially a book that may grow

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to be over 100,000 words as often happens with fantasy

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fiction. So we need to pay attention to our story structure

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to make sure we hit all the elements our readers need. For a

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satisfying experience. plotters usually sketch stuff out in

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advance, but like Panthers, they need to keep an eye on story

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structure along the way and recheck plot points at the end.

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The only advantage of plotting ahead of time is maybe reducing

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the number of revisions and false starts. I try to be a

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plotter these days to save time, and I like the confidence that

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having a plan gives me but either way you gotta pay

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attention to story structure. Hey, Writing Pursuits Authors.

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Welcome back to the podcast. To those of you who are new, I want

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to extend a special welcome. My name is Kathrese McKee. And I'm

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glad you're here. If you are a writer seeking encouragement,

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information and inspiration, this podcast is for you. Let's

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get to it. Let's begin with three act structure. Really

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everything else I discussed today is built on this frame.

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three act structure has a beginning, a middle and an end.

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Act One, act two, act three or sometimes it's called setup,

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confrontation and resolution, departure initiation return like

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in the hero's journey, or decent search and acident as in the

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hero's journey. However, that's not enough detail for me. I like

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seven point story structure the best the hook, a compelling

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introduction to the stories intriguing world and or

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characters. This is when you show your MC in their ordinary

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world. It can take most of the first chapter or last only a few

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sentences, but you need this piece. A compelling voice is a

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must here, because you're drawing the reader in even if

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the ordinary world is commonplace. The voice tone and

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mood must hook the reader if you need help with your hook. Go to

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first chapter rubric.com and download your copy of my

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worksheet. There is a whole section just for the hook. So

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let's use the 2015 movie Star Wars The Force Awakens as an

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example of seven point story structure. Up until the 30

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minute mark in the movie, I would call all the action of

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prologue intended to showcase the villain Kylo Ren and

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introduce us to a couple of important side characters Finn

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and Poe. The main character is array of scavenger on the planet

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of Jakku. And she has shown on a little expedition to salvage

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parts just to keep herself fed. This little section is intended

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to show her ordinary world this is her real life thing comes

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Plot Turn number one, and that is the call to adventure which

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includes the inciting event and leads to the midpoint. Maybe

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within the first chapter or maybe later, something changes

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in your MCs world. It may not seem significant at first, but

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its result is to change their life forever. This is the

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inciting event Rey doesn't know that interacting with BB eight

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is dangerous. So what seems like a great fine completely changes

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her life and maybe not in the best way. Pinch. Number one

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raises the stakes with the introduction of the antagonist

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or the major conflict somewhere in here should be a point of no

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return. The day after Rey finds BB eight Finn shows up thin

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aside defector from the first order and he immediately

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recognizes the droid. close behind his arrival. The forces

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of the First Order show up intent on killing Finn and Rey

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and recapturing the droid. When the trio comes under fire, they

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are forced to run Rey and Finn and BB eight escape on the

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Millennium Falcon. Of course, in the movie, Finn and Rey

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literally run through the village gates to reach the

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Falcon in escape. This is definitely the door of no

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return. After this all the way to the midpoint, the protagonist

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To meet danger after danger and are stuck in a cycle of being

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attacked and trying to survive. Rey and Finn are still in

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reactive mode, even when they meet Han Solo and Chewbacca and

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fight off to rival gangs the other this is when they learned

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that Kylo Ren, the servant of Snoke, who is the supreme leader

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of the First Order, is the prodigal son of Han Solo and

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Princess Leia. Kylo Ren's objective is to acquire the

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droid that contains the missing piece of the map, okay, things

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are happening to the protagonists, and they are

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merely reacting Han then takes them to meet a friend Maz, who

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immediately since his raise connection to the Force, so that

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brings us to the midpoint, which is when things change from

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reactive to proactive on Maz's planet Rey discovers key details

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about herself and her past. This is her moment of truth. Though

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she attempts to deny it. She also learns Finn's true

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identity, then the first order arrives again, and the

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protagonists are forced to take action moving from reactive mode

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to proactive mode. This leads to pinch number two the major

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conflict takes a turn for the worse, and all appears last for

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the protagonist So Rey is captured by Kylo Ren and taken

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to Starkiller Base the super weapon of the First Order Kylo

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Ren figured out that since Rey has seen the map, he no longer

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needs a droid because he can retrieve the map from her mind

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then comes Plot Turn to which moves the MC through the climax

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to the resolution all seems lost but the protagonist discover

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something that helps them resolve the major conflict or

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defeat the antagonist. Rey is in a heap of trouble and truly all

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hope seems lost during her incarceration. She experiments

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for the first time with the force and manages to break out.

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And about this time, we learned that the Starkiller Base is

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charging its power banks in preparation to destroy the

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planet where resistance headquarters is located. A lot

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of things happen leading up to the climax, the death of Han

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Solo at the hands of his son Kylo Ren. Sorry about that if I

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spoil it for you, the critical injury to Finn and the final

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showdown between Rey who is new to the force, and the warlord

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Kylo Ren as the Starkiller Base is imploding and exploding

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around them. So that leads to the resolution, which is the

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major conflict is resolved and the antagonist is defeated.

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Well. I don't think the audience gets the resolution it deserves

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in The Force Awakens. Kylo Ren is not defeated entirely. And

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Rey doesn't get the answer she seeks about her identity. But

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they live to fight another day or at least in the next movie.

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So instead Rey meets Princess Leia at resistance headquarters.

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She worries about Finn's condition, and then she sets out

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with Chewy to find Luke Skywalker using the precious map

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from BB eight. When she finds Luke, she gets a temporary

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resolution and then the credits roll. So let's review the seven

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point structure. Let's use the analogy of setting sail on a

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voyage to help us remember the seven points story structure.

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After getting the reader hooked. The main character experiences

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the inciting event, which whether they know it or not is

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going to change everything. Their first Plot Turn puts our

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main character on the path to adventure. There is no way back.

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The only way open is to go forward, the winds are sweeping

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them offshore. There must be a pinch point one when the

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antagonist in this case the ocean shows its force in

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opposition to the voyage. The hero reaches the midpoint of the

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voyage of their voyage. conditions forced them to switch

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tactics from reactive to proactive or they will never see

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home again they must take action or die. After the midpoint, a

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second pinch occurs. When all seems lost the boat is damaged,

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there's no fresh water, and a storm is blowing the hero off

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course. The second plot turned takes us through the climax to

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the resolution. The hero has learned a thing or two or gained

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enough help to beat the elements. This knowledge and

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expertise helps the hero when through the final battle to

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return to land. The resolution is a final point. And it happens

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when the storm clears and the hero is on the beach. But the

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story isn't over until the victory is acknowledged. And

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heroes inner conflict is somewhat or fully resolved. At

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the beginning I mentioned the hero's journey, and it's three

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parts departure initiation and return. I also mentioned the

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heroines journey and it's three part

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Art, descent, search and ascent. Think of the hero's journey and

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the heroine's journey as two flavors of ice cream. They're

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both ice cream, but they taste different from one another. And

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I hate the name for these two story structures because they

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have nothing to do with gender. The hero's journey can be about

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a female main character, and a heroine's journey can be about a

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male main character. It's about their approach to the conflict

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that makes them different from one another. Writing pursuits is

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run by Kathrese. McKee, who has been trusted by fiction authors

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since 2014, to take their writing to a new level of

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excellence. Guthrie's is a three story methods certified editor

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who specializes in story diagnostics, coaching, and line

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editing to help you prepare your story for the journey ahead. For

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more information, go to writing pursuits.com. The link is in the

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show notes. And now, back to the podcast. The Hero's Journey was

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made famous in the hero with 1000 faces by Joseph Campbell in

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1949. So it's been around for a long, long time. And his summary

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is a hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a

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region of supernatural wonder. Fabulous forces are they're

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encountered, and a decisive victory is one, the hero comes

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back from this mysterious adventure with the power to

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bestow balloons on his fellow man. The only problem is not

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everything fits into this little a container I prefer the

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refined, less fuzzy version of the hero's journey that came

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along in 2007. When Christopher Vogler a well known screenwriter

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wrote his textbook, the writers journey, mythic structure for

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writers. There are 17 points in Campbell's version, and only 12

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points in Vogler version. So it's easier to follow. Vogler

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had a lot of input into the Lion King, and he also attended the

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same filmmaking school as George Lucas, and it shows. Fuller's

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points make much more sense to me than Campbell's, and they

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obviously work the 12 points in the streamlined eras journey,

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our ordinary world which sounds familiar definite call to

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adventure refusal of the call, meeting the mentor, crossing the

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threshold, tests allies enemies, approach the inmost cave, or

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deal reward, otherwise known as St. Seizing the sword and the

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road back resurrection, and return with the elixir. In The

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Force Awakens, Rey goes through every step of the hero's

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journey, but in the sequel, The Last Jedi, you can make the

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argument that she is on the heroine's journey. Although

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Maureen Murdock is credited with the idea of a heroine's journey,

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I prefer Gail Carriger's That's c a r r i g e r take in her book

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The heroine's journey for writers, readers and fans of pop

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culture, which was published very recently in 2020. The steps

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in the heroine's journey as outlined by character are

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familial, the film family network is broken, please are

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ignored, resulting in an abdication of power. Withdrawal

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is involuntary family offers a but no solution. Result is

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isolation and danger. Loss of family means risk, disguise

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version, appeal to surrogate family network and an attempt to

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rebuild community visit the end of World friends family render

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aid negotiation for reunification results in a

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compromised benefiting all network is established or

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reestablished in an altered form. And revenge is irrelevant.

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Glory is irrelevant. It's not the structure that needs to be

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original. It's the plot points that need to be original. The

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Hero's Journey gets taught a lot in school, and many authors

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mistakenly try to stuff their story into that structure, but

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not everything fits there. The heroine's journey is everywhere

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in literature if you know what to look for. Gail Carriger,

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humorously summarized both of the hero's journey and the

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heroine's journey. The Hero's Journey, she said increasingly

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isolated protagonist stomps around prodding evil with pointy

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bits, eventually fatally prods the baddie gains glory and

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honor. In other words, the hero's journey is often

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traversed in isolation, with some help from a mentor who

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probably dies before the end. He or she winds up embittered and

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alone this is Luke Skywalker story. I mean, perfect. It's the

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perfect hero's journey. Carragher summarizes a heroine's

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journey this way. increasingly networked protagonist strive

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To round with good friends, prodding them and others on to

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victory together. In other words, the heroine's journey is

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about building a network, a community, a team, and achieving

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victory through relationships and compromise, he or she is

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definitely not in it in the fight for glory and honor, those

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are irrelevant. This is Rey's path in the second film, The

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Last Jedi, some of her journey is already known before the film

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begins, because she has retreated to the isolated

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island, where Luke lives in exile, right even manages to

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build a tenuous relationship with Kylo Ren. By the end she

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has built a huge network of done first folks to face Kylo Ren

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forces in a critical battle. Even Luke shows up to make the

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final sacrifice. So this film is built on the heroine's flame

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journey flavor of ice cream. Other examples of the heroines

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journey, ice cream flavor are Harry Potter and Katniss

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Everdeen. Their victories are achieved through building

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alliances. So in conclusion, there's a lot more to be said

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about story structure. And there are lots of ice cream story

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structure flavors out there, you have probably heard of Save the

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cat, the snowflake method, and the Dan Harmon story circle

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among others. So everything begins with the beginning,

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middle and end. Act One, act two, act three, setup confort,

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confrontation and resolution or departure initiation return,

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descent search and a half cent. You know all of those are valid.

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overlay the three act structure with the hero's journey or the

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heroines journey or whichever flavor you prefer, depending on

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your desired model, and make sure you do what makes sense for

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your story. Okay, what does it take to turn a blank page into a

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breathtaking adventure? That leaves a lasting impression,

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good pacing and an exciting plot, you must have conflict in

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both external and internal conflict, your characters need

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to make difficult choices, and there must be consequences for

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those choices they make. Remember, it is not the

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structure that needs to be original. It's the plot and

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characters that need to be original. The structures are a

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tool. And that's all I have for today. Until next time, keep

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writing my friends. Keep writing. Thank you for listening

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to the podcast today. If you enjoyed this episode, please

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leave a star rating and follow the podcast. If you're new

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around here. I hope you will sign up for writing pursuits

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tips for authors, my newsletter that comes out most Thursdays

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when health and life permit that link and all the links mentioned

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in today's episode are in the show notes and writing

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pursuits.com Please join us on Wednesdays for new episodes and

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