Non-Video Saturday: Joseph Campbell – The Hero’s Journey

Yes, I’m on another infographic kick. This one is from The Writing Café and is Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey. His theory has pervaded storytelling and writing and folklore for years.

“The concept is that most stories throughout the world follow a simple narrative pattern. At its most basic, the theory states that:

  1. The Protagonist is called to adventure.

  2. The Protagonist must undergo trials or great hardship.

  3. The Protagonist masters the conflict and returns home.”


The Heros Journey


Sound familiar?  It’s the pattern for Star Wars, Harry Potter, and the Odyssey (because I need to include SOMETHING classical in there).

Of course, many stories do NOT meet that structure – Dune, Watchmen, Ulysses, and (even if it is a film, it is a GREAT example of where Campbell fails) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Why? Because one of the biggest critiques of the theory of the “monomyth” is that, if you examine it closely, Campbell’s theory follows a very Eurocentric, sexist (and usually now very cliché) view of what a story looks like.

So…find a better way to tell a story.

(surprise?) :)

Non-Video Saturday: John August – How to #Write #Scene

In a blog post, screenwriter John August offered 11 Steps to Writing a Scene (and also a lovely shout-out to one of my favorite writers Jane Espenson). Ryan Rivard consolidated the post and put it into a simple infographic.  The graphic is below but check out the links to the writers and their posts.  Much more great stuff. How-to-write-a-scene-inforgraphic

Highest #Earning #Authors of 2014

At the end of 2014, Forbes magazine estimated the earnings of popular writers based on Nielsen Bookscan numbers and conversations with industry insiders (though I’m not sure exactly what that means) and then basically made a list of the “Highest Earning Authors of 2014.”  You can check out the article at Forbes.  Here are the highlights:

  1. James Patterson
  2. Dan Brown
  3. Nora Roberts
  4. Danielle Steele
  5. Janet Evanovich
  6. Jeff Kinney
  7. Veronica Roth
  8. John Grisham
  9. Stephen King
  10. Suzanne Collins

PS  It was mentioned that in the last year or so we’re seeing more YA authors on the list.  Books like “Hunger Games,” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” and “Divergent” garnering significant attention and sales, enough to push their authors into the Top 10.


Video Saturday: Advice to #Writers (and #Filmmakers) – John Truby

Just a quick post this week. No comments, just the question: Why do most people fail at screenwriting?

Video Saturday: Advice to #Writers (and #Filmmakers) – Spike Lee

This week’s Video Saturday is from Spike Lee. The loud music in the video is a bit annoying but I love what he has to say about storytelling, and I love even more where he pushes the interviewer about defining his terminology and the importance of being clear.

Guest (Re)Post: Anthony Dobranski – Posture for #writers

For a decade now, I have worked at a standing desk: first on boxes and books piled on a seated desk, then on hasty constructs made from scrap lumber. Now I stand at a custom-built desk, my bare feet on a thick gel mat. There is an obvious and immediate ergonomic benefit for any computer user* — straighter back, continuously engaged body, deeper and easier breathing. I also believe it helps my prose.

Most writing advice goes to helping your plot or consolidating characters, to making things more identifiable. No one ever suggests posture as a tool for writers, the way it is for musicians and actors, so, let me.

Writers play a lot of roles in their heads, and it helps to stand while acting them out. If I want to write a sexy dance, or the discomfort of injury, or a shallow-breathed panic, the freedom of movement gives me more freedom to imagine, to act and to feel.

Writers tend to like cafes, as a balance against the solitude of writing. I wonder if the ability to study other people casually, their looks and movement and ways of being, without the distraction of, say, a film narrative, doesn’t play a role. But cafes are often distracting too.

If you’re looking to liven up your prose in the productive quiet of your garret, why not pile up some boxes and get on your feet? It takes a few minutes to measure your own ideal heights, and possibly some configuring – the distance between hands and eyes is greater standing than seated, so laptop users may need an external keyboard and mouse.

It also opens up some possibilities you might not have considered. I use my monitor portrait now – in fact, I use two!

Of course, you can still sit down from time to time. I don’t stand to pay bills.

*You can write longhand at a standing desk too, but I find it’s better to use a sloped surface so you are not staring straight down. These are less easy to find than they used to be. Search “writing slant” or “writing slope,” or try back sites, calligraphy sites, and of course auction sites.

Reposted from:


Anthony DobranskiTony – I was born in 1966, 900 years after the Battle of Hastings. Libra and horse. My Polish immigrant parents settled in the Washington DC suburbs. After graduating from Yale and some youthful adventures I worked internationally for America Online in the 1990s.

I live in the city of Washington now, with my family. When not writing I ski, skate, and walk in parks. I want to learn tennis and I want to get a 3-d printer. I read novels but also magazines: news, politics and science. I love movies.

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