Welcome back to some writerly instructions. Today I am going to go into more detail about the plot pyramid . . . kind of. We’re going to steer away from the traditional shape I wrote about a few weeks ago though and focus instead on the hero’s journey.
You will be–or maybe have been–told (correctly) that there are several different ways to tell stories. In fact, each person who writes has a different way to tell stories. This is all well and good. Unfortunately, this is the sort of thing that can complex it all up for beginners, or even some of us who have been at it for awhile.
Luckily, there are certain elements in good storytelling that seem to pop up again and again. For instance, when speaking of the plot pyramid, we have the specific shape from my last blog post. It is easy to understand and simple to use. To add to that though, we have two new shapes that can only exist because of the plot pyramid. They are the “Simple Storytelling Hero’s Journey” and the “Complex Storytelling-Hero’s Journey.”
For a simple storyteller, the hero’s journey is simple:
For s storyteller who wants his/her characters to grow and progress as he/she makes his way up and over the plot pyramid, the hero’s journey is a little more complicated. However, as I believe it is best to present instructions in a simple form, I came up with a easy-to-read design to show the complexity of growth:
Using the plot pyramid and the hero’s journey design, a sophisticated writer can begin to set up struggles and goals (particularly in the “rising and falling struggles” section of the pyramid) in order to create a character who changes over the course of a story, thereby becoming something more than a character, a person. If you have a character in no need of change, a simple storytelling journey will be appropriate.
But really–in a good story–how often does that happen?