Written on: 26/06/2008 by Wee Jeanie (1 review written)
This is an excellent book for writers of stories and screenplays but Chris Vogler goes one step farther and shows how we are all writing our life stories, we all have adventures and most of us are reluctant heroes. There are a lot of recognizable elements but Vogler structures them in a way that is memorable and he provides terms which can be used as a type of shorthand when discussing story elements. In fact the whole structure of the book was well thought out with introduction, preface and well developed chapters. He also gives lots of examples from fairy tales and the movies which help understanding.
There are good tables and diagrams to aid understanding.
Each chapter has questions at the end which stimulate 'the little gray cells'!
Cool illustrations at each chapter heading such as "Crossing the First Threshold" and "The Ordeal".
Extensive Index - very useful for checking back on something.
Make sure you buy edition three which has extra information based on workshop feedback and letters. I bought it in America but edition two is still on sale in Britain.
It's a large book, easy to read but heavy to pack for holiday reading.
Some writers may try to use it to produce formulaic stories though Vogler has an answer for this in his introduction.
The reference to Jungian psychology may put some people off.
It all depends on what you want the book to do for you. If you already use some of the archetypes he refers to (sidekick, mentor, threshold guardian) you will probably love this book.
If you want to solve a problem in your story and have problems with the inciting incident, the difference between the crisis and the climax, or the denouement, then this book has lots of ideas for you.
Vogler also has an interesting chapter on how our bodies react to exciting stories which reminded me of comments made by Sol Stein on writing.
I found it refreshing to read a book by someone who obviously loves stories, and has worked in the field of stories for a long time but if you hate myths and fairy tales this book will not be for you. Movies appear more than fairy stories from this author (who worked for Disney on the Lion King) but the terminology is mythic. e.g. "Return with the Elixir" refers to the end of a story after the climax (supreme ordeal) when the hero returns to the "ordinary world". The elixir may be internal knowledge or inner change of character as well as a physical object but the phrasing is used to create overarching mythic 'types" which can cover a whole host of ideas. Vogler does this a lot.
You can dip into "The Writer's Journey" which is divided up neatly into Books one and two with an Epilogue and Appendices. Book one maps the journey with an analysis of archetypes. Book two describes the stages of the journey and the Epilogue looks back on the Journey with reference to a writer's own life. The Appendices, particularly the chapters on Polarity and Catharsis, were very useful.
The author also includes a filmography and bibliography if you like that sort of thing.
All in all, one of the best books I have read about writing because it makes you think, and inspires you to write.
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