How to Embody Universal Themes in Storytelling
A story’s theme is the underlying message or idea that the writer is trying to convey to the audience. The theme can be a universal truth, a moral lesson, or an observation about human nature. The hero of the story is the main character who drives the plot and overcomes obstacles to achieve their goal. There is a strong correlation between a story’s theme and its hero, as the hero’s journey often embodies the theme of the story.
The hero of a story is often a representation of the theme. For example, in a story about courage, the hero is likely to be a character who must demonstrate bravery and overcome their fears. In a story about redemption, the hero is likely to be a character who has made mistakes in the past and is seeking to make amends. In this way, the hero of a story embodies the theme and helps to convey the message to the audience.
Heroes are often characterized by their fatal flaws, which ultimately define their heroic journeys. In stories where the theme is centered around courage, a hero’s fatal flaw may be cowardice, and the hero must confront this flaw as the story progresses. The climax of the story usually involves the hero making a significant sacrifice to embody the theme of the story. This moment of sacrifice is often the most powerful and impactful moment in the story, as it conveys the theme to the reader in a profound way. When a hero fails to make this sacrifice or learn the lesson of the story, they become a tragic hero. Many folklore and fairy tales feature tragic heroes who do not learn from their flaws and meet a tragic end, serving as cautionary tales about the dangers of hubris and the importance of self-awareness.
The hero’s journey is also closely tied to the theme of the story. The hero’s journey is a framework that many stories follow, in which the hero undergoes a transformation and learns important lessons along the way. This transformation often embodies the theme of the story. For example, in a story about self-discovery, the hero may undergo a journey of self-discovery and learn important truths about themselves and the world around them.
As mentioned above in the example of the courage theme, the hero’s journey can be used to reinforce the theme of the story. By putting the hero through a series of challenges and obstacles, the writer can demonstrate the importance of the theme and show how it can be applied in real-life situations. In a story about perseverance, the hero may face numerous setbacks and failures before finally achieving their goal, demonstrating the importance of perseverance in achieving success.
In conclusion, there is a strong correlation between a story’s theme and its hero. The hero of a story often embodies the theme and helps to convey the message to the audience. The hero’s journey is also closely tied to the theme of the story and can be used to reinforce the message and demonstrate the importance of the theme in real-life situations. By understanding the relationship between a story’s theme and its hero, writers can create compelling and impactful stories that resonate with audiences.
Mastering the Basics: 3 Act Structure & Power of Pacing
The 3 Act Structure is a popular storytelling technique used in many narrative art forms such as literature, theater, film, music, and even academic journals. It is a framework that helps writers create a clear beginning, middle, and end to their stories. This structure is easy to understand and can be applied to any type of story, from a short story to a full-length novel or movie.
While the three-act structure is a popular framework for storytelling, some writers may find it too restrictive and formulaic. These writers may prefer to use alternative structures, such as the five-act structure or alternate versions of the hero’s journey, which may offer more flexibility and creative freedom. Some writers may even choose to forgo any structure or guidelines altogether, allowing their writing to flow organically without the constraints of a predetermined framework. It’s worth noting that not all writers feel the need to use a structure, and some may be able to write naturally without considering the structural elements of their work. However, for beginners and logical learners, it can be beneficial to explore various storytelling structures and consider their usefulness in crafting a cohesive and engaging narrative.
Consider breaking down your story into these 3 Acts:
Act 1: The Setup
The first act of a story is known as the setup. This is where the writer establishes the main characters, their world, and the conflict or problem that they will face throughout the story. In this act, the writer sets the stage for the rest of the story and hooks the audience in with an engaging opening scene. An ‘inciting incident’ will occur in this act that will push the hero to enter Act 2.
Act 2: The Confrontation
The second act of a story is known as the confrontation. This is where the main character faces obstacles and challenges that make it difficult for them to achieve their goal. In this act, the writer builds tension and conflict by introducing new problems and increasing the stakes of the story. This is the longest act of the three and is where the majority of the story takes place.
Act 3: The Resolution
The third and final act of a story is known as the resolution. This is where the main character confronts the primary obstacle or problem and either succeeds or fails in achieving their goal. In this act, the writer ties up any loose ends and provides closure for the story.
The 3 act structure is a simple but effective way to structure a story. By breaking a story into three distinct acts, writers can create a clear beginning, middle, and end that will engage the audience and keep them invested in the story. This structure also allows writers to build tension and conflict throughout the story, leading to a satisfying resolution that will leave the audience feeling fulfilled.
The Universal Appeal of the Hero’s Journey: How Your Hero Can Resonate with Readers
The Hero’s Journey is an ancient storytelling framework that has been used across cultures for centuries. This universal concept is commonly found in literature, film, and mythology, and is also known as the mythic structure. But what exactly is the Hero’s Journey? Joseph Campbell’s book ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’ explores this idea, looking at the heroic archetypes found in world myths and lore. These archetypes reveal common practices that storytellers have used to create engaging and satisfying heroes and characters.
While there are many interpretations of the Hero’s Journey, I personally found Christopher Vogler’s ‘The Writer’s Journey’ to be a helpful guide when I was studying to be a writer. More recently, I came across Dan Harmon’s own narrative structure, which he used to create popular TV shows like NBC’s Community and Cartoon Network’s Rick and Morty. The differences between these interpretations are mostly in the number of stages, with Campbell’s version having 17 stages, Vogler’s 12, and Harmon’s just 8. Despite these differences, the core elements of the Hero’s Journey remain the same, making it a powerful tool for any storyteller to use in crafting their own narratives.
Despite the differences mentioned above regarding the number of stages in the hero’s journey, all versions of the journey follow a protagonist, commonly known as the hero, on a path of self-discovery and transformation. The hero faces a series of challenges and obstacles that they must overcome to achieve their ultimate goal. The journey is typically broken down into several stages, each with its own set of challenges and rewards. Let’s take a closer look at the steps in the hero’s journey according to Christopher Vogler:
Stage 1: Ordinary World
The hero is seen in their everyday life.
Stage 2: The Call to Adventure
The hero is called to leave their ordinary world and embark on a journey. The call to adventure can come in many forms, such as a prophecy, a message, or a sudden event.
Stage 3: Refusal of the Call
The hero initially resists the call to adventure, either because they are afraid of the unknown or because they are comfortable in their ordinary world.
Stage 4: Meeting the Mentor
The hero meets a mentor who provides guidance and advice on their journey. The mentor can be a wise old man, a supernatural being, or even a book.
Stage 5: Crossing the Threshold
The hero leaves their ordinary world and enters a new world that is filled with danger and adventure. This stage marks the beginning of the hero’s transformation.
Stage 6: Tests, Allies, and Enemies
The hero encounters a series of tests, allies, and enemies that challenge their skills and beliefs. These challenges are designed to help the hero grow and develop as a character.
Stage 7: Approach to the Inmost Cave
The hero approaches the most dangerous part of their journey, where they will face their greatest challenge. This is the moment when the hero must confront their innermost fears and weaknesses.
Stage 8: Ordeal
The hero faces their greatest challenge and is forced to confront their weaknesses. This is the moment when the hero either succeeds or fails in their quest.
Stage 9: Reward
The hero is rewarded for their bravery and success. This can take many forms, such as treasure, recognition, or knowledge.
Stage 10: The Road Back
The hero begins their journey back to their ordinary world, but they are not the same person they were when they left. They have grown and changed, and they must now deal with the consequences of their actions.
Stage 11: Resurrection
The hero faces one final challenge that tests their newfound strength and wisdom. This is the moment when the hero is reborn and becomes a new person.
Stage 12: Return with the Elixir
The hero returns to their ordinary world with a newfound sense of purpose and wisdom. They have achieved their goal, and they can now use their knowledge and experience to help others.
In conclusion, the Hero’s Journey is a powerful storytelling framework that has been used for centuries to create engaging and memorable stories. By following the mythic structure, writers can create compelling characters and stories that resonate with audiences. Whether you’re writing a novel, a screenplay, or a comic book, the Hero’s Journey is a framework that can help you create a story that will stand the test of time.