No more tweaking, second-guessing names, plot and character development. It’s whole, revised and under review. The review I’ve requested from my editor at Write Divas is to assess the hero’s journey. Is it working?
To me, a story’s strength is in nailing the journey of the hero from call to adventure to final transformation. I like stories and I’ve always been drawn to narratives that focus on this age-old cycle. The hero’s journey is what I love to read and tell. It’s what I chose to write.
So, I look for this cycle in all stories whether in books or on the screen. Since it is the beginning of my easy month, I watched a movie this weekend, “Gravity.” And I was delighted to recognize the hero’s journey.
Without spoiling the movie, I’ll just relate a few points. The journey is small compared to “Star Wars.” But that’s the beauty of the archetype; it can be contained in a small story. The setting is vast, of course, as it opens in space with the hero (Sandra Bullock’s character) orbiting earth on a mission to install a piece of engineered hardware.
Her reluctance to accept the call (to adventure) is understood with her ambivalent attitude toward her space walk. She’s there to do a job. Space? Earth below? So what. What follows next is typical–the tensions of challenges, the revelation of a mentor, the approach to the cave.
Ah, the cave. Finding the cave for a character on the hero’s journey can be tricky. The cave is a metaphor for the hero being forced to face what is happening. To be a hero she must first refuse the call. Because the hero refuses the call yet life keeps sending her trouble, the cave becomes that inward reflection of “do or die.” Death isn’t always imminent, but it reflects a major loss if the hero doesn’t become the hero.
In “Gravity,” the cave is literal. Sandra Bullock is tucked up in a small, confined space that all but yelled, “cave!” And she had her most important choices to make in that space. It is a major shift in the progression of the movie.
Reflecting on my own novel, I wonder if I did not enclose my protagonist in her cave as clearly. This thought is a revelation to me and probably what ‘s been nagging at me about my own story. Finding the cave means leaving your character in discomfort (and your reader) until a decision is made. It’s not about plot twists; it’s about character evolution.
Now I realize that I will be using my easy month to reflect on the cave and how I might better define it. Watching movies like “Gravity” that deftly defines the hero’s journey will help.