Monday, June 29, 2009

The Call to Adventure

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Welcome back to our discussion of the Hero’s Journey.

With my recent postings, I wrote about the formula writers use to insure your story is well-told. (Sorry, I said, “well-told”, not well-written. I know of no shortcuts in that regard.) To date we saw how you set up your story by following a proven formula for weaving your tale, The Hero’s Journey. This twelve-step recipe gives your story a framework that will present your readers a well-crafted narrative every time.

I also introduced you to step one of the Hero’s Journey called “Ordinary World.” In this part of your story, you show your reader who your hero is in real life. I sort of look at this as showing your reader what it is your hero is going to lose.

What’s next? My one of my favorite parts of the story, the Call to Adventure!

In this part of the blueprint, your hero “sees” what is going to change his life. He may experience it, dream it, (though be stingy with dreams), see it or even taste it. But, he must receive the Call to Adventure.

Did you watch or at least mentally review the original Star Wars movie, A New Hope as I recommended in my last post? (Yes, there is homework.) In the film, when did our hero, Luke Skywalker, experience his Call to Adventure? It happened when he was cleaning the droids and R2D2 projected the message from Princess Leia to Obi Wan Kenobe. Something exciting stumbled into his life, didn’t it?

Okay, so what? Why even bother with the Call to Adventure in your novel? If I were to quote an old professor, it’s because, “I said so!” In reality, I see this as the tool to inform your hero what path he needs to follow. Keep in mind, if your hero doesn’t know what is required of him, neither will your readers and you will lose them. I think you can see how it also moves the story along and brings your readers into your story.

Okay, so let’s recap. The Hero’s Journey is the proven technique for storytelling. The Ordinary World is step one and it shows what your hero is going to lose. And the Call to Adventure establishes the reason his is going to have to leave his Ordinary World.

What’s next you ask? Your hero Refuses the Call.


More on that next time, folks.

Until then, good writing.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Perils of Dates.

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Good day, all,

Boy, oh, boy... the power of a dates! As those who follow this blog know, I am in the midst of writing my third manuscript and recently received it back from my editor. (And, yes, she again taught me the need for humility...)

In any case, as I was going through her edits, it struck me one of the dates in my novel could be incorrect. Was it ever! I had Texas as part of the United States in 1822 when it didn't even break away from Mexico until 1835, a decade before it was admitted into the Union.

Now this sounds like a little thing, I know, but it means a total rewrite of some 3,000 words and two characters. Oh, yeah, and any references to this throughout the entire novel. To one like me, this is a daunting task.

I mentioned this to a buddy and he said, "Ah, does it matter? Isn't a novel just one big lie anyway?" Oh, did I ever try to find solace in those words. But, no, if you're writing historical fiction, you've got to get the history part right.

Is there a lesson here? As with all things, of course there is. Edit, then edit some more and edit again. (Of course, you could just get it right the first time, but who does that?)

Back to the keyboard for me...

Okay, keep your eyes open and good writing.

By the way, here's a tidbit for your next cocktail party. (If anyone else is so old as to remember them.) Texas is the only state in the Union that flew six different national flags in its history; the United States, the Republic of Texas, Mexico, Spain, France and one other I can't remember right now.