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The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition Paperback – December 31, 1998

103 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

At the beginning of The Writer's Journey, Christopher Vogler asserts that "all stories consist of a few common structural elements found universally in myths, fairy tales, dreams, and movies." Some may be hard-pressed to accept this idea (and will wonder how storytellers from Homer to Shakespeare to Robert Altman might respond to the proposition). Others may imagine that since Vogler uses movies like the Star Wars trilogy and The Lion King to defend his mythological philosophy, he is, unwittingly, listing the reasons why Hollywood films of the last 20 years have been so unimaginative. But there's no doubt that Vogler's notion, based on psychological writings by Carl Jung and the mythmaking philosophy of Joseph Campbell, has been profoundly influential. Many screenwriters have used Vogler's volume to understand why certain scenarios sell, and to discover a blueprint for creating mythic stories of their own.

Now in its second edition, The Writer's Journey sets forth archetypes common in what Vogler calls "the hero's journey," the mythic structure that he claims all stories follow. In the book's first section, he lists the different kinds of typological 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 in detail how films like Titanic and The Full Monty follow the patterns he has outlined. --Raphael Shargel


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 325 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions; 2nd edition (December 31, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0941188701
  • ISBN-13: 978-0941188708
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

152 of 155 people found the following review helpful By Ian Frost on March 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is not a standard writing book. It is a problem solver and story editor.

Too many people look inside it and find formula. The problem with this is that, used as a formula, it will work exactly once and then all the other stories written to its beats will mirror the previous story and then the creative portion of the mind will rebel at having such fetters place upon it. Using it as formula is a certain road to ruin.

Where this book shines is when a writer has an outline or a partially finished manuscript, and parts of those do not work. Something is missing. Using the ideas presented here allow him to get under the story's hood and fix the broken piece or adjust the fuel mixture. For instance, most writers I have known could get their story out of the Ordinary World (a character's homebase) and then get stuck. There was one of two problems at fault there. In the first, they never took the time to develop the Setting (Extraordinary World) their characters would venture into. In the second, once they got their characters there, they would meander. For that I have found the idea of the "Road of Trials" or "Tests, Allies, & Enemies" a fascinating and satisfying way to get my characters to their Bleak Moments.

I have also found this book useful in analyzing novels and films. I see how others have created their works and where things work or do not work. For instance, the first "Harry Potter" book and "The Eye of the World" both follow a mythic structure and yet are wildly different stories. "American Gods" and "Gardens of the Moon" use very different structures from the first two novels, and yet they are as epic in their own ways; I see within them the ways that writers find divergent voices and story models.
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147 of 154 people found the following review helpful By Derek Rydall on June 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
I've read this book a number of times, as well as listened to Chris Vogler's lectures -- and every single time I come away with a deeper understanding of the hero's journey, the underlying mythic structure of stories, and some really useful insights into whatever story I'm developing at the time. But what's more, I'm always inspired with a greater awe of life itself.

I always find it interesting to see what others comment on in the reviews -- especially the more critical ones -- and I feel compelled to respond to some of them...

First of all, let me say that I completely respect everyone's opinion. We all have different paths, different styles, different tastes... But I think it is unfair and misleading to state that this book distills Campbell's work down into a formulaic writing style -- and that we would be better off just reading The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

Don't get me wrong, "Hero" is a great book and probably should be required reading in all writing courses, but it's a 400 page scholarly text with very broad applications. Saying we would be better off only reading that to improve our writing is like saying we would be better off reading the collective works of Newton in order to learn how to play baseball!

Using the Hero With a Thousand Faces, you could probably create a powerful book on relationships, family, business and, of course, the journey of life. What Vogler has done here is created a classic writing guide that shows us how to create stories with mythical power. It is an excellent adaptation of Campbell's source material. And while it teaches form, it never forces you into a formula.

I highly recommend it to all writers; to anyone involved in the creation of stories in any medium. Read it over and over. Watch movies, read stories, and try to notice the mythic structure in them. Let these ideas penetrate your subconscious -- where they can work on you, your writing, and even your life.
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148 of 161 people found the following review helpful By V. Jayne on September 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
To "A reader" who posted on Oct. 22 1999 that "Vogler's assertion that Daedalus helped create the Minotaur (p.50, UK edition)" was incorrect, I'm sorry, but YOU are incorrect.

Queen Pasiphae commissioned Daedalus to create the wooden form of a cow, covered with cowskins, which Pasiphae then hid in, allowing the white bull to mount her. This union was the origin of the Minotaur.

And to all those people who are saying "read Campbell first" or "Campbell is better," I'd have to say that if you are a WRITER who is interested in developing your storytelling ability (not just someone interested in the historical or academic study of existing mythology), then this book is indispensable. AFTER reading this, THEN move on to Campbell, if you're so inclined. I own about 12 Joseph Campbell books, but I ALWAYS come back to The Writer's Journey when I'm "stuck" in my writing.

However, if you are NOT a writer but rather someone who IS interested in the historical or academic study of existing mythology, then skip this book because it was not written for you. This is the WRITER'S Journey.

It's the best book I've read on how to develop compelling storylines and characters, and how to "fix" an existing script that may be lacking in some areas.

Finally, to those who think that Vogler ripped off Joseph Campbell, it's hard to rip someone off when they give you their blessing and encouragement to keep doing exactly what you're doing. Campbell knew about and encouraged Vogler's work, and Vogler repeatedly acknowledges and praises Campbell throughout this book. In no way does he represent that the 7 archetypes and 12 stages of "the Journey" were his own creation.

He also repeatedly discourages the use of his book as a "formula."

So there.
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