Yes, This Will Be On the Test

Writing, Reading, Laughing

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


I regret that I never got to take a class from the amazing Joseph Campbell. 

His hero journey is my "go to" structure when I plot a story. 

If you're not familiar with this template - think Luke Skywalker. 

Ordinary chap finds he has a special gift - the force.

Wise mentor, Obi Wan, sends him on a quest - save the princess (really to embrace his Jedi-ness)

Ordeals are faced - Star Wars Episodes 4 through 6 - culminating in a supreme ordeal - Luke defeats Emperor Palpatine and redeems Vader.

Return home - or Ewok Village where the spirits of Luke's past rock out to the "Lub Nub" song. 

Graphics for my fellow chart folks:

I was delighted to discover the Power of Myths Programs. This is a series of discussions between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell on a myriad of topics including the hero journey, ritual, and mythology.  

“Mythology to him (Campbell) was the song of the universe, music so deeply embedded in our collective unconscious that we dance to it even when we can’t name the tune.” 
Bill Moyers

"Artists are the myth-makers of today." Joseph Campbell

Campbell’s mythic journey template continues to be an invaluable tool for creating story structure. 

Joseph Campbell will forever be my Obi Wan Kenobi. 

Who is your Obi Wan?

BONUS TRACK: More Campbell quotes


  1. I'm with you - how I wish I could have taken a class with him, too! I use the Hero's Journey all the time for plots. Have you read 'The Power of Myth', his interview with Bill Moyers? It's wonderful :)

  2. This is truly a great model for storytelling, and works so perfectly with epic tales just about every time. Making the hero lose something at the end, even though the may succeed, drives it even farther. :)

  3. I take books I've read and dissect them to see what the author has done. Not to copy them but to get the technical side of things. I don't know that I've never heard of it having a name or being a set thing, but I've seen it done in books.

  4. My J. Campbell books are filled with notes and underlining. He opened the world of myth and heroes to me, and I've been forever grateful.

  5. I... I don't know who my Obi Wan is. Now this is going to be on my brain all day...

  6. My Obi Wan is Dean Koontz. Yeah, I write YA and he writes thriller/horror, but hey, it's doable, right? ;)

  7. Hmmm.... I read Stephen King from a young age, so I have to believe he had a big impact on my writing. But I really admire Meg Cabot's career. I love how she writes for a variety of age groups under the same name without alienating any of her readers.

  8. I haven't read anything by J.Campbell- but it sounds like I should. I guess my Obi Wan is JK Rowling. :)

  9. "Follow your bliss." My motto and favorite Campbell quote. The Highlights Foundation offers a wonderful Hero's Journey workshop occasionally.
    Great post, Leslie!

  10. You'll want to smack me. I never knew there was a plot with Star Wars. *ducks head* And I fell asleep in the theater during one of them. It's just not my thing. BUT I totally respect the hero's journey structure.

  11. I read this last year to help me plot a middle grade fantasy. I needed help since I had never written fantasy before. It's an amazing book and one I'll reread.

  12. Those are cool charts, Leslie.
    Have to confess I've never read anything by this author.
    (I burst out laughing at your comment on my H-post... thanks for the entertaining moment...)