If you're a fiction writer eager to study the craft through movies, you're in the right place. This month, we will discuss the hero's journey and how it relates to his character arc.
Who are "we?" This blog is my brainchild, Kathy Kovach, the American Christian Fiction Writers Rocky Mountain Zone Director. When I approached the ACFW Colorado folks about sponsoring a movie day, they were enthusiastic. Two people volunteered their homes and we settled on dates. ACFW is a national organization dedicated to spreading the gospel through the art of fiction. If you aren't familiar with ACFW, please visit http://www.acfw.com/ for info on this worthy organization.
I have had a love of movies ever since watching the late movie with my mom when growing up. My dad was a truck driver and on the road a lot. My sister was seven years older and had a life. That left Mom and me, and a large bowl of popcorn. Back in the sixties and early seventies, the late show was clean, popular in its classic style, and highly entertaining. We watched musicals, epics, westerns...you name it. But the movies themselves weren't the only draw. Time alone with Mom. Getting to know her as a best friend. That's why my love of movies grew. It was a positive experience that I continue to share with my family.
And now, I want to share it with you, my writing family.
If you belong to ACFW Colorado, we have scheduled our Movie Madness days on the third Saturday of the month. Denver will host June 21 at the house of Jill Hups and Colorado Springs will host July 19 at the house of Kim Woodhouse. (All times and dates subject to change.) ACFW Colorado is looking at opening more charters, so stay tuned. If you'd like directions, watch for an announcement on the ACFW Rcky Mt Zone loop, or email me. (See my profile.)
The beauty of this blog is that if you can't make it to the movie showing, you can watch the movie at your leisure and come back to discuss it with us. I will announce the movies in advance so you can prepare to discuss on the fourth Monday of the month. If you miss a month, I hope you will scroll through the comments anyway. We will all learn from each other.
I hope you can join us at Jill's house on Saturday, June 21 at 4:00, but if not, please rent the movie and come back here. We will begin discussing the character arc of Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen's character) on Monday, June 23 and continue until the topic is exhausted.
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You may be familiar with the Hero's Journey which takes the character through a physical structure common to most stories that have been told throughout time. A good contemporary book that explains the mythical structure is The Writer's Journey - 2nd Edition by Christopher Vogler. A follow up to this book is Myth and the Movies by Stuart Voytilla. Using this book, we will follow the chart he's included on page 7. If you don't have the book, you might want to buy it, but it's not necessary for our assignments.
While the Hero's Journey is the physical movement of the character throughout the story, the Character Arc is the inward journey, or the growth of the character. We will look at both.
Watch Galaxy Quest and follow Tim Allen's character, Jason Nesmith. Look for the following things in his Hero's Journey. Make a brief note of what happens to him in the movie during these pivotal points.
- Ordinary world
- Call to adventure
- Refusal of the call
- Meeting the mentor
- Crossing the threshold
- Tests, allies, and enemies
- Approach the inmost cave
- The ordeal
- Road back
- Return with elixir
At the same time, follow the Character Arc:
- Limited awareness
- Increased awareness
- Reluctance to change
- Overcoming reluctance
- Committing to change
- Experimenting with first change
- Preparing for big change
- Attempting big change
- Consequences (improvements and setbacks)
- Rededication to change
- Final attempt at big change
- Mastery of the problem
Note that the Character Arc is the inward journey, while the Hero's Journey is the physical. Voytilla teaches that both are synonimous and makes for a well-rounded character. This is what we want in our own writing.