The Writer’s Journey: A Practical Guide

For one of my first projects of the new semester, my team mates and I were assigned with creating a summary through a 6-7 minute presentation of the first chapter from The Writer’s Journey by Christopher VoglerMy original research can be found within my sketchbook.

To initially start our research, my team and I decided to independently research, then accumulate that work. Doing this highlighted how key Joseph Campbell was to Vogler’s own work. Furthermore, in my sketch book, I decided to intricately break down the structure of the chapter.

The first chapter pushes extreme focus on ‘The Hero’s Journey’, and how the use of this narrative pattern had been used consistently throughout film. This urged our group to follow the examples of directors Campbell had influenced within popular cinema e.g. George Lucas, Francis Coppola, George Miller, Steven Spielberg, and John Boorman.

Additionally, the book ‘The Hero of  a Thousand Faces’ by Joseph Campbell, was critical to our research as it highlighted the strong influence in which Vogler had from the mythologist; particularly in the chapter ‘The Keys’.

Important Diagrams from The Writer’s Journey:

The table below was created by Vogler and illustrates his structure of the hero’s journey versus Campbell’s. You can find this table in The Writer’s Journey. As this narrative construct is based within mythology, it appears that Vogler attempted to modernise the structure through his use of terminology. 

Below is another diagram taken directly from The Writer’s Journey.

Below is another diagram taken directly from Vogler’s book. This diagram stresses a significant separation within the first act of a hero’s journey story.
Finally, the image below has been taken from Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero of a Thousand Faces. Once again, this table highlights Vogler’s strong influence from Campbell’s work, in his layout of the hero’s journey.


The Stages of the Hero’s Journey:

A. Ordinary World
B. Call to adventure
C. Refusal to call
D. Meeting with the mentor
E. Crossing the first threshold
F. Tests, allies, enemies
g. Approach to the inmost cave
h. Ordeal
i. Reward (Seizing the sword)
j.  The Road back
K. Resurrection
L. Return with the elixer

Page 7 of The Writer’s Journey:

Before introducing ‘The Hero’s Journey Model’ on page 8 of The Writer’s Journey, Vogler dedicates a section to explaining the characteristics of a story like this; here is my break down:

A. Hero’s Story is always a journey
B. Hero Leaves her comfortable surroundings to experience ‘challenging, unfamiliar world’
C. Might be an outward Journey to an actual place: a labyrinth, forest or cave’
D. A new location that becomes arena for the antagonist
E. Or inward Journey: one of mind, heart, spirit.
F. Any good story hero makes positive development: despair to hope, weakness to strength, folly to wisdom, love to hate, and back.
G. Emotional journeys hook audience and make worth watching.
H. Protagonist of every story is hero, regardless of path.
I. Knowledge of guide of story telling is useful for identifying problems.

Useful Quotation:

constantly repeating characters or energies which occur in the dreams of all people and the myths of all cultures
– Christopher Vogler in The Writer’s Journey,explaining Carl G. Jung and his work on Archetypes within hero’s journey stories.

“stories built on the model of the hero’s journey have an appeal that can be felt by everyone” 
-Christopher Vogler in The Writer’s Journey.

“…the experiences and illuminations of childhood and youth become in later life the types, standards and patterns of all subsequent knowledge and experience, or as it were, the categories according to which all later things are classified- not always consciously, however. And so it is that in our childhood years the foundation is laid of our later view of the world, and there with as well as it’s superficiality or depth: it will be in later years unfolded and fulfilled, not essentially changed”
– Arthur Schopenhauer (Great influence to Joseph Campbell)

” he suggested that both were coming from a deeper source, the collective unconscious of the human race”
Vogler P4 on Carl G. Jung, in The Writer’s Journey.

“myths and most stories constructed on the mythological model have the ring of psychological truth” 
– Vogler P4

“these narrative patterns are so familiar because they’ve surrounded you since you were a small child. But this familiarity makes trying to understand them all the more important”
– James Cateridge, Film Studies for Dummies


Break Down of Group Presentation:

1. Introduce Joseph Campbell and his ideas
*Talk about Vogler
*Condense first few pages
2. George Lucas etc
*Hollywood Method
3. Talk about p4 + p5
*Look at quotation
4. Table 6
5. P7 Summary- Hero’s journey definition
6. P8 table
7. P9 diagram
8. The ordinary world
9. Call to adventure
10. Refusal of the call
11. Mentor
12. Crossing the first threshold
13. Test, allies, and enemies
14. Approach to the innermost cave
15. Ordeal
16. Reward
17. Road Back
18. Resurrection
19. Return with the elixir
20. Recap

Below is an image of my team’s original research plans:


The Holly wood Method:


1. Objective story telling
2. 3 Act Narrative
3. Character Driven
4. Mise-en-scene
5. Time and Space
6. Classical continuity editing

Is the Hollywood Method essentially a film mould for The Hero’s journey?

Objective storytelling, three act narrative, character driven, and time and space focused narratives are all essential within a hero’s journey narrative. Qualities such as mise-en-scene, and classical continuity editing may jut be used to further these details in a film format?


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