Plot Design & Story Structure: Joseph Campbell vs Christopher Vogler

Joseph Campbell's Hero Cycle

Joseph Campbell’s Hero Cycle

In this article, I will discuss my process for developing plot and share  the incredible tools that I discovered to examine, critique and improve the plot of my novel. You might also want to download this Campbell & Vogler Plot Design Worksheet that will help you design your plot by examining if and how your story follows the hero’s journey.

Joseph Campbell and Christopher Vogler

The two writer’s classics, Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces, and Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, cover the various elements of plot and storytelling from two different perspectives. Campbell was an expert in comparative mythology. He looked at stories from around the world and found common themes and plots, and went on to develop theories to describe his discoveries. His views were based largely on inductive reasoning, and his writing is very academic and difficult to access for the average reader. Vogler, on the other hand, is a Hollywood script-writer. His work is based largely on the work of Campbell, although he altered it to fit the standard methods used in Hollywood movies and scriptwriting. His views are suppositions, or educated guesses, about what makes a (Hollywood) story successful, and his writing is very accessible for the average reader.

These two books have been invaluable to me as a writer and I highly recommend them for anyone who is struggling with plot.

Where I got stuck with my plot

I was wading through about 80,000 words of the first draft of my novel and was struggling to fill in key plot holes. I’m not a writer who writes from beginning to end; rather, I jump around and write whatever scene is pressing at me to be written. This is admittedly not the best way to go about it, but it’s my first novel, so I’m not exactly an expert on this yet. So I had all these islands of writing, and when it came time to start tying them all together into one continuous, flowing plot, I found I had a lot of gaps and a lot of questions: Continue reading

25 Reasons to Read William Gibson’s Neuromancer

For the writers (and readers) out there who have not read (or who have not finished reading) William Gibson’s Neuromancer

NEUROMANCER!  Well, I don’t want to come across as a book snob, but I do have to ask: How can you call yourself a well-read fictionado without having read Neuromancer?  (In classic Lily-style) I’m going to give you at least 25 reasons why Neuromancer is an amazing book, and a must-read for anyone delving into the finer points of fiction-writing (and reading). Continue reading

Book Review: The Story of B, by Daniel Quinn

During my research on spiritual fiction, I was recommended to read Daniel Quinn’s books, Ishmael and The Story of B.  At my local new-and-used bookstore, Companion Book, I found a cheap copy of The Story of B and I was pleasantly surprised while reading it.  Continue reading

Quantum Connections: Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku

"Sierpinsky Galaxy" by ChrisDlugosz on Flickr

Michio Kaku’s book, Physics of the Impossible, has helped me to understand a subject that I thought I never would: quantum physics.  Ever since my first year of college in 1997, when my philosophy of religion instructor, Dr.Katz, talked about atoms being mysteriously connected, I wanted to understand this process and became curious about quantum mechanics.

Like many, I had avoided physics and chemistry because I found the technical aspects boring. Continue reading