The udated and revised third edition provides new insights and observations from Vogler's ongoing work on mythology's influence on stories, movies, and man himself. The previous two editons of this book have sold over 180,000 units, making this book a 'classic' for screenwriters, writers, and novelists.
Now in its Third edition, The Writer's Journey describes the models common in the hero's journey. In the book's first section, Vogler describes different kinds of characters who appear in stories. In the second, he discusses the stages of the journey through which the hero generally passes. The final, supplementary portion of the book explains how films like Titanic and The Full Monty follow these patterns.
Vogler is thought-provoking and insightful. Combine the lessons in this book with those from Rust Hills’ [[ASIN:0618082344 Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular]] and you have the literary foundation for penning saleable stories.
Penned by the Pointed Pundit
February 24, 2008
I read a lot of mythology so it was interesting to read this book and compare ideas I've had over the years. I've read Joseph Campbell, so the ideas weren't new to me. But, this book is more user friendly for a writer.
Vogler seems perfectly unaware of the worthlessness of his repeated example of an unspecific, universal and ancient tribe with vague traditions and rituals from which all our storytelling must follow. There are no citations for this tribe or their traditions, but the logic Vogler uses is that the story structure related here is valuable and intrinsic because these universal tribal forefathers used it. He folds in cheap quotes from Aristotle and others without embarrassment, using them in all their generality to back up his unsubstantial points. There are also unbelievably (and predictably uncited) general and vague scientific examples that say little of actual science and, worse, often little to support his claims. All this devolves into a chapter on how a good story should effect several bodily organs at a time and a superficial several pages on chakras. Vogler, with little understanding of the deep worlds he's visiting, just puts together a mishmash of cultures, philosophy, religions and science (with a scattered few engaging analyses of movies according to Campbell's structure that provoke the fleeting wonder of what this book could have been) and splats it against the wall like a monkey throwing shit.
Some favorite lines towards the end of the book:
"According to some modern Hindu sages, Hitler may have been very open in the power and throat chakras, making him an effective communicator who could stir the emotions and marshal power with his voice, but he was probably shut tight in most of the other chakras."
"My motto as a story evaluator became, 'If it isn't making at least two organs of my body squirt fluids, it's no good.'"
Definitely read the appendices after finishing the main part of the book, you can skim the breakdown of the different films if you'd like, but the Star Wars section is definitely worth reading just for breaking down what the problems with the prequels were. Good read.
When I first decided that I wanted to be a writer it didn’t take long before I stumbled upon the idea of the ‘Monomyth’ or ‘The Hero’s Journey’ popularized by the work of Joseph Campbell and it wasn’t much longer before I bought his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. That book is dense, and meandering, and not meant to help you be a better writer. It is a text book about comparative mythology, essentially, chock full of examples and excerpts from the history of storytelling to help prove his points, but completely lacking in any actual advice on applying those concepts to your own stories. I didn’t get very far into it before boredom made me put it down.
The Writer’s Journey takes Campbell’s theories and makes them more accessible in several ways. First of all, Vogler often uses popular movies as examples to get you to understand the various concepts of the monomyth. Examples from works that most people are familiar with is important in helping you understand these concepts, in my opinion, and that’s something that was extremely lacking in Campbell’s book. Second of all, Vogler has come up with many of his own terms for the various stages of the journey that, to me at least, make a lot more inherent sense than Campbell’s terminology does. Third of all, and most important, he tells you exactly how these concepts apply to writing a cohesive story. He lays out when to use them, when not to use them, and how to think about them as relates to your own work.
However, even though this book is far more accessible and practical than Campbell’s, it’s still dense, and not exactly a page-turner. That’s the only excuse I have for taking so long to finish it, because it really is a great book. I also took notes while I read, so that didn't help. If someone asked me for recommendations on books about writing though, this would definitely be in my top three picks. I found it to be an invaluable resource for understanding story structure, and for diagnosing broken plots.
As a long time gamer and fantasy reader, I was familiar with the ideas in the second part of the book and ended up skimming them.