We’re not really going to discuss the “P” word because all things, even nothing, is writing. Plus, I’ve convinced myself that if only I were organized I’d be able to write all the time, any time. Just humor me and don’t judge.
I’m watching Tolkien while I start this project, so you know it’s well thought out and I’m focused.
Starting a story without plan or previous thought, taking it where it wants to go, is the exciting part of storytelling for me. Everything else is work. Unfortunately, it’s not very production for me. Many conversations, by a gang of misfits and miscreants, get in the way of my thoughts and desires, putting a barrier up to finishing anything I start.
Having a GoTo plan, a map, a set of easily transportable and physical cards with questions to answer might be just the ticket to get my engine running and send it out of the terminal and along the rails to the Orient.
This plan, these cards, will be based on some well established tenants of story construction: The Hero’s Journey, the three act structure, the five narrative components, plot diagrams, and all of the other organizing ideas for tale-telling.
So I’ve gathered a rainbow of index cards and sticky notes, and my favorite writing pens. In honor of J.R.R., I will start with The Hero’s Journey. Cellar Door. That does sound nice.
The plan for the plan: the concept on one side and related questions on the other side. Some sort of coding to keep it all organized and to allow for mixing and matching, and plenty of time wasting. I’ll call the Construct Cards, so look for them in the labels in future posts. Feel free to use anything you might find useful.
That’s enough of an introduction. Let’s begin.
The Hero’s Journey, as defined by Joseph Campbell, has seventeen stages divided into three parts (with variations from others like, Christopher Volger who only has twelve sections, hence the unevenness as you will see):
Information on this form is all over the internet and written about in many writing books. It’s the basic structure of some of our most beloved and unforgettable stories: LotR, The Hobbit, HP&tSS, Star Wars, and Jane Eyre.
I’ll start with The Ordinary World.
Who is our Hero and where does he live?
What does she want and what does she need? These should be linked and contradictory. Her want creates her flaws because she focuses on her wants and doesn’t see what she needs. She thinks her want is the solution to all of her problems when it creates them and is harmful to those around her.
What does he want? Something external and physical - if he gets this one thing, he’ll be perfect. What lie is he telling himself? What inner demons will this want fix? The hero will spend most of his time in the story chasing this goal.
What does she need? What is her truth? This is what the story is really about. What transformation of perspective does she need to cope with the world? Can she give up what she wants to get what she needs? What emotional change is required of the hero?
How is the Hero comfortable and yet, dissatisfied with his present life? What has led to the dissatisfaction? What is stopping him from changing, taking action?