In this morning’s session of the writing group we discussed story structure, and in particular ideas from ‘The Writer’s Journey’, a book by Christopher Vogler. Mark, who’s leading the sessions, explained that stories that are very different can be based on very similar structures.
For example, most writers start by establishing the ‘ordinary world’ that their story is set in (even if this is an extraordinary place). After that there’s often a ‘call to adventure’, swiftly followed by the protagonist ‘refusing the call’. A ‘mentor’ is usually on hand to offer some sort of counsel and then they cross the threshold into the adventure and this leads on to the ‘innermost cave’ or ‘big test’.
Unsurprisingly, my tics started suggesting other names for these stages, so writers, pay attention, here are the new rules:
Establishing the ordinary world = “Establishing grey marl pearls.”
Call to adventure = “Invitation to over-excite your inner bear.”
Refusing the call = “Channelling a standoffish ant.”
Mentor = “Phone a friend.”
Crossing the threshold = “Dancing into the dark.”
The innermost cave = “The innermost rave.”
While learning about all this I couldn’t help but imagine, what it might mean for the lamp-post.
Establishing the ordinary world: The lamp-post, down-trodden by pigeon feet, bored with its restricted world-view, turns on and off daily.
Call to adventure: The tantalizing call of a tic rings out into the night: “Lamp-post, you’d look better in corduroy.”
Refusing the call: The lamp-post lists reasons why corduroy’s a bad idea: not shower proof, not on trend, difficult to get bird poo out of, etc.
Mentor: The TV aerial offers encouragement, wisdom and insight and the three trees chatter about the lamp-post’s lack of courage.
Crossing the threshold: The lamp-post, defiant, undertakes to try a new look.
The big test: The lamp-post battles against his own restrictions (his concrete base) and against the assumptions of others (that lamp-posts don’t move, wear suits or make credit card transactions)
I suspect there may be some final stages still to come but I had to leave the session early to go to a hospital appointment. I’ll ask about this tomorrow and make sure our hero completes his journey.