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'The Writer's Journey': Vogler's story structure



Below is a quick breakdown of Vogler's archplot structure. It only skims the surface, so don't forget to buy his book.

‘The Writer’s Journey: mythic structure for writers.’[1] by Christopher Vogler.

ORDINARY WORLD:

This is the world in which your character begins. It may be extra-ordinary (e.g. an alien planet) but is ordinary for your character. Without establishing where the character is at home, it is difficult to convey how surprising the next parts of the story are. CALL TO ADVENTURE:

Characters are called to adventure. It doesn’t have to be an adventure in the traditional sense (although it can be). It could be something as simple as starting a new job.

REFUSAL OF THE CALL:

Often the characters do not want to go on the adventure – they fight against it. (Think for example of Macbeth horrified by what the witches have prophesied). Sometimes a character is a ‘willing hero’, and other people in the story must express ‘the fear, warning the hero and the audience of what may happen on the road ahead.’ (P110)

THRESHOLD GUARDIANS:

These are characters that guard the threshold to the adventure. They discourage the character from doing what she feels she must.

MEETING WITH THE MENTOR:

Through these mentors, the character finds her own voice and understands the best way to act.

CROSSING THE FIRST THRESHOLD:

The ordinary world has disappeared. Everything has changed. The character must learn and overcome challenges.

TESTS, ALLIES, ENEMIES

There are tests that the character must pass. She learns who to trust and who are her enemies.

APPROACH TO THE INMOST CAVE

Things are getting tricky, but the character’s goal is only achievable through entry to the inmost cave (a physical or psychological entity). She has come too far to turn back.

THE ORDEAL

She must win through but how? It must be something that is extremely personal difficult for her.

REWARD

What is your character’s reward for having survived the ordeal?

THE ROAD BACK

Something happens which makes the character want to behave/ or actually behave in the same way that she did in the ordinary world or at the start of the adventure. Which leads to...

THE RESURRECTION

Because of what the character has learnt on her journey, she handles this new and terrible challenge differently and demonstrates to the reader that she is different person now.

RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR

She returns home with her prize and/ or her new-found knowledge which she imparts.

LOOKING BACK ON THE JOURNEY

The character is able to reflect what has happened to her.

[1] Christopher Vogler, The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, Third Edition, (California: Michael Wise Productions, 1998)


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