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Writing the Hero's Journey

Facilitator:  Kevin Miller

Workshop Syllabus

Ever wonder what all good stories have in common? It’s the shape of the Hero’s Journey, taking him or her from the Ordinary world, to the Special World, to the inmost cave, and back again. Drawing from Joseph Campbell’s studies into the foundations of world mythology, this workshop will help you use this classic storytelling structure to help you plot your stories while infusing them with direction and purpose.

Week One: Discovering the Hero’s Journey

This week will introduce students to the origin of the Hero’s Journey, explain why this structure is vital for storytellers to understand, and describe each stage of the journey in detail. Numerous examples and exercises will be given to help students identify the stages of the Hero’s Journey in fiction and film.

Week Two: Populating the Hero’s Journey

This week will focus on describing and discussing key character archetypes encountered in the Hero’s Journey. These include the hero, the shadow, the shapeshifter, the trickster, the mentor, and others. Another key emphasis during this week will be to help students understand the Hero’s Journey as a description of character development. Once again, many examples and exercises will be given to help students identify these character archetypes in fiction and film.

 Week Three: Writing the Hero’s Journey

Now that students are more comfortable with the concept of plot and character archetypes, this week will focus on helping students plot out their own short or long fiction stories using the Hero’s Journey as a guide. The goal of this week will be for students to produce a one-page treatment of their story, which will be critiqued by the instructor and students the following week. 

Week Four: Beyond the Hero’s Journey

During this week, students will continue plotting out their stories and having them critiqued by the class. However, instruction will focus on innovative uses of the Hero’s Journey, archetypal plots, and other devices that will help students gain a better understanding of story structure. 

Objective: By the end of the workshop, students will understand the Hero’s Journey structure, be able to locate the stages of the Hero’s Journey in fiction and film, and learn how to implement the steps of the Hero’s Journey in their own writing.

 Prerequisites: None

 Required Materials: Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

 Suggested Reading: The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler, The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, and Story by Robert McKee.

Workshop Begins: January 12, 2004
Duration: 4 weeks  
Tuition: $80


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Required Text

Books in this section are required reading for participation in the course. 

Fantastic Mr. Fox
by Roald Dahl

Following the form of the hero's journey, The Fantastic Mr. Fox is a tale of farmer versus vermin, or vice versa. This early Roald Dahl adventure is a story for children, who will be delighted to hear that Mr. Fox keeps his family one step ahead of the obsessed farmers. When they try to dig him out, he digs faster; when they lay siege to his den, he tunnels to where the farmers least expect him--their own larders! With his usual flourish, Dahl evokes a magical animal world that, as children, we always knew existed, had we only known where or how to look for it.


The following books are not required purchases for this course, but are highly recommended by the facilitator. 

The Hero With a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell

The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, by Christopher Vogler

Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting, by Robert McKee