The Writer’s Journey Presentation

Today, myself, Jenny, Thomas & Claire presented our chapters: Ally, Trickster & Ordinary World. Link to the presentation here!

I think our presentation went okay! It had it’s pitfalls but overall I think we all got the information across on the chapters. I’ve learn’t for the next presentation how important it is to practice as the next presentation is constrained to a time limit. Also by knowing what everyone else’s “lines” or points they have to get across, it means when there are slip ups or pauses that other teams members can jump in. Lesson learnt!! Moving on.

Applying to the Ordinary World

To make sure its understandable for the rest of the class (and of course myself!) I used examples from the book and through my own research.

Heroes Lack

For Heroes Lack I used the example in the book; Ordinary People(1980).

Taken from IMDB (January 2016): “The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationships among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son.”

Ordinary World (1980) Trailer

Text from book:
“The young hero Conrad is unable to eat his mothers french toast for him. It signifies, in symbolic language,his inability to accept being loved… because of the guilt he bears over the accidental death of his brother.”

“At the end of the story. Conrad’s girlfriend offers to make him breakfast…his appetite for life has returned”

Looking at the film, its clear the character, Conrad has went through a fairy tale format with the cliche happily ever after ending. Its a good example of the Hero lack and the progression of the main character.

Tragic Flaws

For Tragic Flaws they gave an example of Superman and Kryptonite however it isn’t the most appropriate comparison. I thought of Thor through his pride and arrogance he puts himself  on earth and greater trouble. Then thinking of Iron Man, Tony Starks ego causes himself to be kidnapped a terrorist group and it isn’t until he reaches rock bottom that his morals/values change and he becomes Iron Man.

Another example is Hamlet which I was able to find on a website explaining tragic heroes (Unfortunately i wasn’t able to see the whole article so this is all I could see) However knowing the story of Hamlet, you how his tragic flaws leads to destruction and a bloodbath. For the presentation it would be worth while noting Hamlet.

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Source Accessed Jan 2016

Wounded Heroes

For Wounded Heroes there were two examples in the book,they both are good example so I didn’t feel the need to research further for examples:

Lethal Weapon (1987)

From IMDB Accessed January 2016: “A veteran cop, Murtaugh, is partnered with a young suicidal cop, Riggs. Both having one thing in common; hating working in pairs. Now they must learn to work with one another to stop a gang of drug smugglers.”

Lethal Weapon (1987) Trailer 

From book: “Mel Gibson is sympathetic because he has lost a loved one. The wound makes him edgy, suicidal, unpredictable and interesting.”

Learning from this section we know that flaws make interesting characters, Mel Gibson’s striking character may be one of the many reasons why Lethal Weapon was turned in a series of films.

Red River (1948)

From IMDB Accessed January 2016:“Dunson leads a cattle drive, the culmination of over 14 years of work, to its destination in Missouri. But his tyrannical behavior along the way causes a mutiny, led by his adopted son.”

From book:“Dunson makes a terrible moral error as a cattleman by choosing to value and his mission more than his love and following his head rather than his heart. This choice leads to the death of his lover, and for the rest of the story he bears the psychical scars of that wound. His suppressed guilt makes him more harsh…almost brings him and his adopted son to destruction.”

Out of the two examples; Red River seems more like an appropriate icon of the wounded hero. Dunson’s scars cause choas and almost destruction in his family, his characters is much more compelling to watch.

Establishing what’s at Stake

For this section, again there was an example in the book which was Clash of the Titans (1981);

From IMDB Accessed January 2016:“A film adaption of the myth of Perseus and his quest to battle both Medusa and the Kraken monster to save the Princess Andromeda.”

Clash of the Titans (1981) Trailer

From book: “Purseus must undergo many ordeals or his beloved Princess Andromeda will be devoured by a sea monster”

I could look into more for example Beauty and the Beast where Belle must put herself in a dangerous situation or her father will die. However Clash of Titans for me sums up establishing what’s at stake. The film has high enough stakes that interests the audience and provides as a good example. (I’ve noticed most fantasy films have dramatic stakes due to the vast imagination of creators)

Backstory & Exposition

There wasn’t an example for his in the book so I had to do bit of digging to find some. I found a website which gave a few examples of the use of backstory and exposition. These examples include Star Wars; with an introduction which gives blunt exposition and is considered iconic.

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Empire Strikes Back Opening Credits (Accessed Jan 2016)

However Star Wars seems like an example everyone is going to use so I choose for a different example. Thinking of Harry the Narrator type characters my mind went to Morgan Freeman and one of his most famous films; Shawshank Redemption (1994) This example coincidentally was in this website I found previously which reassured myself that  I thought of a good example!

From IMDB Accessed January 2016: “Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.”

Shawshank Redemption (1994) Trailer

Just from the trailer we see backstory and exposition revealed through Morgan Freeman’s character, Red who plays the ‘Harry the Narrator’ character. Thought the same website there were points made which i didn’t think of before.

From Source (Accessed Jan 2016): “In The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Red (Morgan Freeman) describes how he sees Andy (Tim Robbins) – a technique that allows for a better scrutiny of Andy’s persona. If Andy were talking about himself, the narration would come out as awkward and maybe self-important. But Red offers a third-person view that matches what the audience sees. Also, since Red had been in prison longer, he can share knowledge about life behind bars and predict what Andy is going through”

This example I think is really good not only for establishing the narrator characters but showing how the wisdom of that character reveals important exposition and backstory for  Andy to escape the prison.

Theme

Theme also didn’t have an example but through research I found an essay which applies theme to the film Hot Fuzz (2007)

From PDF: “Angel’s inability to “switch off” is mentioned several times over the course of the film, by Janine, Angel and Danny. This dedication to his career (which could also be construed as an obsession) is what keeps Angel from being able to build steady relationships with other people, both within the work environment and his social life.”

The essay makes the point that the film bases it’s theme upon relationship with references to his failed romantic relationship with Janine. This theme of relationships continues with Nick Frost’s character Danny who goes with Angel on his journey to establish a normal steady life with stable relationships.

With the examples, I now have some applied knowledge for the presentation!

 

 

Ordinary World Research

Today I started looking my selected pages for Ordinary World; starting off by starting at the beginning of the chapter to give myself context, I then wrote notes for my own pages. People were saying I had too much notes, so i tried to condense down the important bits to me in highlighter. Personally for me writing it down was a good way i could understand the information. Also I didn’t have to then refer to the book when my book is at hand.

So (hopefully I got this right) this is what each section is in brief:

Hero’s Lack 

This is common amongst fairy tales, the hero is lacking something or someone. This could be:

  • A personality trait or skill
  • The loss of a family member or friend
  • A missing/ kidnapped friend or family member

This is effective as the audience sympathises with the hero. The story usually (not always) follows the hero trying to regain this lacking and when its restored which results in the common fairy tale cliche “They lived happily ever after”

Tragic Flaws

The hero has admirable qualities except one which is their fatal flaw. This is often arrogance or pride. (sounds like Iron Man all over!) The hero’s fatal flaw leads their inability to listen to instructions and advice which ultimately leads to their destruction. Known as ‘Hamartia’ 

Wounded Heroes

This hero could seem normal but hides an internal secret. This could be emotional, physical, mental etc. and could be just between the writer and hero or expressed to the audience. Often the story is the journey to repair the wounds established by the hero.

Establishing What’s at Stake

The audience needs to know early on what are the stakes, What has the hero got to lose or gain and what will happen if he or she loses. What will happen to the world the population? (basically all the external factors) Often scripts fail because the stakes aren’t high enough!

Backstory & Exposition

Back story: Information relevant to the characters
Exposition: Information relevant to the plot line

Backstory and exposition are important as it gives audience context however it’s about how both are revealed, its often the hardest part of scripts to convey. However using blunt  exposition in the form of a “Harry the narrator” character leads to the point and directly tells the audience whats happening. Exposition and backstory can be revealed gradually and can leave the audience trying to put pieces of information together like a puzzle. This makes it more interesting to watch.

Theme

The theme is the premise; set before and determine the future course of story. if you had to condense the story down to a few words or a sentence what would it say? Love conquers all, friendship, trust etc.

The theme determines the dialogue, actions and plot line, the story should always refer back to the theme.

Now i have the basic idea of what they are, time to apply it!

And So It begins/Christopher Vogler ‘The Writer’s Journey’

Yesterday we were given our first assignment and split into teams. For this project we were put into a team with Thomas, Claire & Jenny. I was happy getting the opportunity to work with people I’ve never worked with before and Claire who over the end of semester 1 became friendly with!

Our group was given pages 71-97, for this it’s important we take into account not only our own chapters but previous chapters to gain a greater understanding of the book.

The chapters our group are covering are: Ally, Trickster & The Ordinary World. The group thought it would be best to split this up into pages and Thomas was able to split this up for us which means i am covering pages 91-97 which covers a section of the ordinary world.

I’m excited to learn from the book, at the end of semester one I knew I was really interested in narrative and creating stories. To have a module just based on that for me is something i can really delve into.

Looking at this reminds me of Story Structure by Dan Harmon. Over the summer (Of 2015!) when I was trying to write a graphic novel I went through this structure suggested to me by comic book artist I met. When this struck  a cord with me I looked into it and Dan Harmon is a noted follower of Joseph Campbell (one of the main influences behind The Writer’s Journey)  Now fast forward in time looking at Vogler, it’s nice to see various authors and writer’s use a formula to create a story. So hopefully my interest in narrative will help!