The Hero’s Journey

Joseph Campbell was a professor of Literature who focused on mythology and comparative religion. He’s credited with defining the idea of the Hero’s Journey, a story telling device which has been used in thousands of stories for thousands of years. We see it in the Odyssey, and the journey of Odysseus coming home from the Trojan war. It’s evident in stories as like the Wizard of Oz, and George Lucas consciously followed this formula in writing the Star Wars movies. Tolkien uses the Hero’s Journey in The Lord of the Rings.

I’m not sure if I was aware of the Hero’s Journey when I published my first two novels, Draegnstoen and Highland King, but was pleasantly surprised to see I’d pretty faithfully followed the formula. I attribute that to much reading of fiction and having a subconscious understanding that this is the way such things are usually written.

Gears of Uriel did not follow this path. That novel was about the creation of an artifact and the lives of the numerous people who protected it over the course of many lifetimes. Finally, the last main character in the book took the journey above.

In Tyrian, my next book, the main character took this path. But in writing Tyrian, it became very evident that the markers on this journey are not evenly spaced. Every story is different. Road of Trials, Approach, and Ordeal probably take up three fourths of Tyrian, and the last few steps are wrapped up within 20-30 pages.

It has been said there are no new stories. That is probably true as far as the way stories are written, and even for the themes we write about. But we will always find new ways to tell those stories, because we all have different ways to learn the truths they teach.

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