This week: The Hero's JourneyEdited by: Shannon
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Welcome to the Short Stories Newsletter. I am Shannon and I'm your editor this week.
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"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself." ~ Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) was a Professor of Literature at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, New York, who specialized in comparative mythology and comparative religion. An avid reader (he claimed to have read nine hours per day for five years during the Great Depression) and lifelong learner, Campbell observed that all great myths and legends, regardless of when they were written, share a common template. He shared that template with the world in a book titled The Hero with a Thousand Faces, which was published in 1949. The pattern in its original form is included below.
The Departure phase is characterized by five steps:
1. The Call to Adventure
The hero must leave his/her comfort zone and venture into the unknown.
2. Refusal of the Call
Doubts or fears cripple the hero, and he/she refuses the call.
3. Supernatural Aid
Someone appears, providing our hero with what he/she needs (additional information, magical weapons, specialized training) to begin the quest.
4. The Crossing of the First Threshold
The hero steps from his/her world into a foreign land/unfamiliar territory.
5. The Belly of the Whale
The hero is swallowed by the unknown, sometimes quite literally.
The second phase, Initiation, is comprised of six steps:
1. The Road of Trials
Where the real adventure begins. The first five steps have been preparing our hero for this moment. This is where our protagonist gets to show the world the hero within.
2. The Meeting with the Goddess
Our hero meets the yin to his yang. Could also be a divine/magical being with godlike powers. The Goddess (divine/magical being) provides the hero with the tools he needs to complete the journey and tasks him with retrieving the boon (step six of phase two), moving him ever onward toward apotheosis.
3. Woman as the Temptress
Our hero meets a Femme Fatale--a powerful temptation to test his strength and commitment (think Lori, played by Sharon Stone, in Total Recall). The temptation doesn't necessarily have to be a woman, either. It can be anything that temps our hero to abandon his/her quest.
4. Atonement with the Father
A reckoning. Make amends. Payment for past sins. Some believe this can also be the point at which the hero takes revenge (kills the person(s) who murdered his family, for instance). Reconciliation. Rebirth.
Elevation of our hero to the rank of a god
6. The Ultimate Boon
The climax of the story. The hero finds the Grail, accepts the Elixir, receives the reward--whatever the reason for embarking on the adventure in the first place. This is where the goal is achieved.
And the final phase, Return, also has six steps:
1. Refusal of the Return
Our protagonist is no longer a blue-collar schmuck, he's a hero! He defeated the monster. He's famous. He's godlike. People admire and revere him. He can't imagine going back to the mundanity of everyday "normal" life (think of an astronaut who's just returned from the moon waking up the following morning to fold laundry or vacuum the carpet).
2. The Magic Flight
The journey is over and the hero must return home. This can be heartwarming (soldiers returning from war), intense (others know about and want the Grail/Elixir. They pursue our hero in an attempt to attain it), or anticlimactic.
3. Rescue From Without
Sometimes the hero needs help/encouragement to return home (Sam convincing Frodo to return to Bag End).
4. The Crossing of the Return Threshold
Finally, the hero leaves the chaotic unknown and returns home, forever changed by the experience.
5. Master of the Two Worlds
The final showdown. The magical/unknown/other world has followed our hero home (Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, after winning the 74th Hunger Games, attempt to settle down and live a "normal" life, but President Snow has other plans; Snow announces all previous Hunger Games champions must come together and fight to the death in the Quarter Quell).
6. Freedom to Live
Finally, finally, things settle down and our hero is able to live as she chooses, but life will never be the same.
A truncated version of The Hero's Journey
While you may not write with an outline of The Hero's Journey next to your computer, it may prove useful should your plot come to a screeching halt. If you're stuck, if you just don't know where to go next, peruse the seventeen steps and proceed from there. You may be surprised by where the journey leads.
"The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure." ~ Joseph Campbell
Thank you for reading.
P.S. Every registered author who shares their ideas and/or creative endeavors relating to or inspired by this week's topic will receive an exclusive trinket. I will retire this month's limited-edition trinket at 11:59 p.m. WDC time on Tuesday, August 6, 2019, when my next short stories newsletter goes live.
Gameboard Version of The Hero's Journey
I hope you enjoy this week's featured selections. I occasionally feature static items by members who are no longer with us; some have passed away while others simply aren't active members. Their absence doesn't render their work any less relevant, and if it fits the week's topic I will include it.
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The following is in response to "Our Orwellian Reality" :
Beholden writes: End of the world scenarios are a bit too depressing for my taste but I can suggest one more title to add to your list of Dystopian books. C.S. Lewis' "That Hideous Strength" is definitely worthy of a place alongside those you've mentioned. Written in 1945, it is uncannily prophetic of today's world.
ForeverDreamer writes: Dystopian literature I one of my favorite genrrs too. I was glad to see that you listed "Earth Abides." That is an old favorite of mine.
Princess Megan Rose writes: News people are in such a hurry to do a story, they will say anything. They say things about the President and people that aren't true. They don't even look sad giving bad news. Whatever happened to get the facts and printing the truth? A good newsletter with food for thought about listening to the news and questioning what's real. Thanks for sharing.
intuey*I'mWatchingYou!* writes: Great NL! Hitler even used advertisement propaganda with strong linguistics and over-the-top, graphic illustrations that made people wonder what it was about, and in their curiosity, it drew more and more people into Hitler's dark lair, as they were taken to a crescendo of climax at his rallies. As far as the Mockingbird organization goes, I'm part conspiracy theorist -- so I do believe they still exist. You can't believe everything you hear on world news -- all stations have been known to speak the exact words all across the board. That's not individual research, that's quite literally being told what to say by our government (and higher).
I haven't written a story of a dystopian government but I have written one where it was a parallel world just like ours but with a dystopian government compared to ours and a glimpse of how it affected their citizens. I Still need to do some work on it, though. Tracey
Queen Kissy writes: I've always enjoyed a good dystopian story. Perhaps it's comforting to read about those that have it worse. Pesky Amanda is away for now. released a pretty good one last summer, I've linked the excerpt [see submitted items below] and it can be found on Amazon.
James Heyward writes: 1984 has always been my favourite novel. I think the best part, and maybe most underrated aspect of the “Orwellian” concept is this: It’s not about making people believe the propaganda. It’s about changing and distorting basic facts so often that people no longer know what to believe or care to distinguish fact from fiction. In room 101 2+2 = 4 was the wrong answer and so was 2+2= 5. The right answer in room 101 was “I don’t know.”
BIG BAD WOLF writes: I can't say that I have any dystopian-type stories, although it is entirely possible to turn some of them into dystopians, or make them seem like dystopians from the point of view of certain characters.
For instance, my interactive, The Reptilian Chronicles, which was posted last edition, has a society that has humans and reptilians living side-by-side, and the reptilians are allowed, by law, to eat a certain number of humans each year, but they have to follow rules, such as "No means No" and they have to pay off any debts the human owes. Thus, it's possible to make a human character that sees the reptilians as an oppressive upper-class, or make a reptilian character that sees humans as nothing more than livestock.
Then there's my Werewolf Invasion, wherein the titular werewolves have come to Earth. While such a storyline has yet to be written, it wouldn't be impossible to create a thread where the werewolves become brutal overlords of the planet, turning humans into nothing more than chew toys. In fact, there's actually a thread that's one at a Feudal Level involving a brutal "Pack Leader" who sees humans as nothing more than "Snacks".
Jeannie writes: I think when one party has so much power while the other doesn't, there's bound to be some shenanigans going on. Freedom of speech should be for all, not for some.
Yes, I agree that there is still a mockingbird press going on. It's like an echo chamber, they all report on the same things, with the same words. This causes boredom, and most of us turn them off; in turn, their ratings are dropping. But they keep on doing it over and over again. I don't understand it!
dragonwoman writes: I have written several tales about escaping dystopian societies. One is called The Last Winkle in Time. The story finds the MC racing to a certain place so she can escape through a time warp to somewhere else. We never know whether its better, worse or the same.
Paul We live in a dystopia now. All of the administrations screaming about Fake News is straight out of Orwell’s work and they’re proving, AGAIN, that the “Big Lie” still works. Also, who would have ever thought that the US would be governed from Twitter with 140 character message limits.
One of the biggest handles for controlling a society is fear. If you can generate enough of it you can convince the majority of people to do what you want. It doesn’t matter what the fear is or where it comes from either. I derived a great deal of humor and pleasure from watching all of the people messing their pants over an “Orange Alert” issued because someone thought the car full of Mexicans was a Middle East terrorist cell springing into action.
My partner was a lawyer for 40 years, 20 as a civil rights lawyer, and she has a huge CoIntelPro file. I do too. I designed computers for 35 years and had several ridiculous level clearances then later wound up working and living in the Soviet Union and was interviewed multiple times by our countries other big Letterman’s Society so they have a lot on me too. It’s quite something sitting across from 5 agents they flew from Washington to California just to question me. There are a couple stories in there I intend to write.
Thank you for a marvelous post. I appreciate all the effort you and others spend keeping this a great site.
Elizabeth writes: I really enjoy this type of dystopian fiction when I'm reading it or when I'm watching TV and movies, but whenever I try to write it I feel really overwhelmed. This type of story requires me to sit in the negative aspects of our world for too long, and I always end up feeling really down. I find it much easier to interpret those negative aspects in ways that feel less direct (through fantasy or horror or poetry), since dystopian is a more pure form of it that is so overwhelming for me. I'm glad that other writers feel more comfortable in that realm though as it truly is often brilliant to read.
eyestar~summerdaze writes: Oh my gosh! How timely a topic. A friend of mine was just talking about this very topic as her phone seems to pick up on what she is talking about even when it is not on. When she opens it she gets an ad about her conversation topic. Freaky! You really pull the information together well..and I would not be surprised that there is still much controlling going on! We rarely hear about all the marvelous things going on and the good energy. I have not read too much on this genre recently though I do recognize some of your titles and have read a few way back. LOL It's like they knew it was coming. Thanks for shedding light on the big picture.
Jeff writes: I enjoy some dystopian fiction, but find that a little bit goes a long way. When I was in high school we read 1984, Brave New World, Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, and The Giver all in the same semester and it really burned me out... so now I have to read dystopian fiction in small doses in order to appreciate it.
Editing is BLUE writes: What an apropos NL. In this day and age of mass media, most people follow the new that leans to their belief. What if there's another side? Everything you said is true. The media sways the truth. Criminals go free while innocent people sit in jail. The due process of what is said in the media colors everyone's view of things. What is the over all agenda? Writing your own view of what you think is going on in fiction version, opens people's eyes. They might not give you the time of day in the news media, but write a good book and people will read it and argue over it. Look at the millions Dan Brown made over his fiction books. The ones you listed are perfect examples of putting a personal ideal out to the public. Now if the film makers would just be more open minded.
ForeverDreamer writes: The history of MKULTRA has always been very interesting to me.
🌙 Darleen writes: It is truly frightening the effect that media has on all people. Watching the news has become difficult for me. Watching the news from both sides of the current political situation, for example, is even scarier. The difference in the reporting is mind-boggling and it makes you wonder WHO has the correct and true information. I try and assume it's somewhere in the middle but even that is hard to swallow sometimes. I cannot tell you how many times I've come across people posting misinformation in reply to posts innocently made by some and the turmoil it creates in comments is headache inducing. I try and stay as informed as I can, but it's hard to piece together truth these days with how media likes to twist everything to a particular viewpoint. That being said I would not be one bit surprised to find out that all media may e controlled by an "agency" hidden in the shadows.
New England Ŵeb☆Ŵiɫch writes: Very informative newsletter, Shannon. The past does sometimes prove the future. I believe tactics such as Operation Mockingbird still exist today. It's not a good feeling wondering if what is being reported is true. However, it's up to each of us to ask many questions and do our own research. There are many different channels to explore these days. Nobody wants to feel duped and manipulated.
You know, I have never written a dystopian story. I may want to give it a try one day.
Legend Unborn writes: Illuminating...
Been trying to break out of this dystopian realm of the internet. There's all the issues with Facebook down to communities as small as this where we are watched. I believe it's easier to run underground in these cyber worlds, but all information is interconnected. So, we only believe ourselves safe in anonymity.
I have poetry that can hint at how we are manipulated through associations, perceptions because we open up, and how we are programmed to think alike, benefit 'the cause'. Writers are supposed to push boundaries, not be mules for a central master...left to consider censor oneself before censored for being free thinkers.
It goes on in the work world, in other social arenas. Even families manipulate one another into conformity. There are fashion trends to follow, what to eat, etc. that all come and go because corporations need to move product, keep sales going...that new car, that new toy, that dream vacation. Advertisers are everywhere, even monitoring what we click on the internet. Software and phone companies sell us out to make a buck instead of protecting our privacy.
Zuckerberg can apologize, but it's not going to change. We're conforming. Don't buck the trend. And if you complain, they have your peers to manipulate your way of thinking. Or, they can just freeze you out until you want back in.
It's everywhere, in all walks of life. It's been here. Big Brother is Apple, Microsoft, the internet...and it's got us hooked. We've already given up our freedom for our cyber drug.
Press like if you approve.
Cyber bully if you hate
Delete post or account if user undesirable
Ignore, ignore, ignore until they get the message
You're programmed, I'm aware and bucking the trend
Lisa Noe~Kittylove writes: I have to say that what you have laid out here is truly scary to me, it sort of paves the way for the anti Christ if you ask me.
sindbad writes: Hi. This is a revealing and interesting subject. I understand the intricacies and rather mysterious subject we all should keep in mind..sindbad
~ Sisco ~ Back! writes: Hi, Shannon.
I believe the media is, and always has been, controlled by the state. I can only imagine the panic when social media began to report huge stories that had not received much coverage from the MSM. I will never forget watching the BBC report a few thousand demonstrators in London, then watched videos on social media showing almost a million demonstrators!
My novel covers misinformation, as the team I am writing about are all connected to the secret intelligence services. It is amazing that some events in my novel have been changed because they didn't seem extreme enough after the events of the past few years. When I am writing, I often think, "How would they cover this up or explain it to the public?"
Orwell only made one mistake with 1984, he should have called it 2024.
The following is in response to "Fear, Self-Sabotage, and You"
Legend Unborn writes: The older I get the less I fear. Death was a big one when I was young. Trying to comprend an infinite or finite universe kept me awake many nights. Now I fear for my kids, fear that they will ignore my advice. Like my mom used to say, 'you're not allowed to die before me.'
My daughter won't use the bathroom with the shower curtain closed!
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