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I live on the ocean, write women's fiction, love to read so much that it's an addiction rather than a hobby (I read an average of a book a day). I live on the wet west coast so it's a good thing that I like to walk in the rain.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Hero's Journey, STage 2, Call to Adventure

Hi, everybody:

The call to adventure is all about questions - inner and outer questions. Inner: Do I want to take this risk? Outer: Can you help us?

Questions are a powerful tool in writing. One of the reasons they're important and powerful is that if the hero asks a question: Do I want to take this risk? we tend to identify with that and are pulled even further into the story. If the hero is asked a question: Can you help us? we ask ourselves what we would do in that situation, thus pulling us deeper into the story.

In both cases, we begin to identify with the hero because we're asking ourselves the same questions. If you think about paintings, one of the things you'll almost always see (not in abstract art as much but in almost everything else) is a way for the viewer to get into the painting, to become part of it. This might be done by a pathway leading into a forest or a garden. It might be done by way of a splash of color that stands out. In some way, the painter gives us an aid, a tool that will help us enter the world of the painting.

That's what questions do in the hero's journey. Depending on what you're writing, the questions may be more internal (literary fiction or romance) or more external (fantasy or suspense). If the conflict is basically internal (I can't commit, or I'm afraid of intimacy or death) then the questions tend to be so as well. Why do I feel this way? What do I do to to change this? If the conflict is external (I have to save the world or solve the murder) then the questions tend to be so as well. How do I defeat the villain? How do I find the murderer?

This stage of the book can be very simple, very short. As simple as expressing the question, as short as the paragraph it takes to express it. But it can also be much more than that - because the hero can respond to the question reluctantly or decisively.

If the response is reluctant, something has to happen to force the hero to answer the question in the affirmative. If the response is decisive, then something might happen to make the hero have second thoughts.

Just think about how this might happen. You have a character who lost her family at a young age and she doesn't want to be hurt by loving anyone else. So someone comes along (a dog, a potential friend or lover) who asks her to commit to a relationship. She can say, reluctantly, I'll do it, but I'm not going to become intimate. She can say, oh, what the hell, I'm so lonely I'm just going to go for it. In either case, there's potential for further conflict - even a decisive yes, I'm totally committed to this relationship leaves you with room for the conflict to grow. Because what if it doesn't work? Or she doesn't know how to have a relationship? What happens the first time the dog or friend or lover has to go away for the weekend? Her concern about being hurt comes up - she rethinks her answer and we start all over again.

That's the nice thing about the hero's journey - we can cycle back to each stage as necessary. It isn't over and done with when we move on the next stage -


1 comment:

readingissomuchfun said...

Great Journey read. I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for posting about your blog on Witchy Chick's blog. Your books look good looking forward to reading Awakening.

Have A Wonderful & Safe Happy Halloween :-)