The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers
|The Writers Journey|
|Publisher||Michael Wiese Productions|
|Dewey Decimal||808.2/3 22|
|LC Classification||PN1996 .V64 2007|
The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers is a popular writers' textbook by screenwriter Christopher Vogler, focusing on the theory that most stories can be boiled down to a series of narrative structures and character archetypes, described through mythological allegory. Vogler based this work upon the writings of mythologist Joseph Campbell, particularly The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and holds that all successful films innately adhere to its principles. The book was very well received upon its release, and is often featured in recommended reading lists for student screenwriters.
Hero's Journey Overview 
- Heroes are introduced in the ORDINARY WORLD
- they receive the CALL TO ADVENTURE
- They are RELUCTANT at first or REFUSE THE CALL, but
- are encouraged by a MENTOR to
- CROSS THE THRESHOLD and enter the Special World, where
- they encounter TESTS, ALLIES, AND ENEMIES.
- They APPROACH THE IN-MOST CAVE, cross a second threshold
- where they endure the ORDEAL
- They take possession of their REWARD and
- are pursued on THE ROAD BACK to the Ordinary World.
- They cross the third threshold, experience a RESURRECTION, and are transformed by the experience.
- They RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR, a boon or treasure to benefit the ORDINARY WORLD.
Stages of the Journey 
Its stages are:
1. THE ORDINARY WORLD. The hero, uneasy, uncomfortable or unaware, is introduced sympathetically so the audience can identify with the situation or dilemma. The hero is shown against a background of environment, heredity, and personal history. Some kind of polarity in the hero’s life is pulling in different directions and causing stress.
2. THE CALL TO ADVENTURE. Something shakes up the situation, either from external pressures or from something rising up from deep within, so the hero must face the beginnings of change.
3. REFUSAL OF THE CALL. The hero feels the fear of the unknown and tries to turn away from the adventure, however briefly. Alternately, another character may express the uncertainty and danger ahead.
4. MEETING WITH THE MENTOR. The hero comes across a seasoned traveler of the worlds who gives him or her training, equipment, or advice that will help on the journey. Or the hero reaches within to a source of courage and wisdom.
5. CROSSING THE THRESHOLD. At the end of Act One, the hero commits to leaving the Ordinary World and entering a new region or condition with unfamiliar rules and values.
6. TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES. The hero is tested and sorts out allegiances in the Special World.
7. APPROACH TO THE IN-MOST CAVE. The hero and newfound allies prepare for the major challenge in the Special world.
8. THE ORDEAL. Near the middle of the story, the hero enters a central space in the Special World and confronts death or faces his or her greatest fear. Out of the moment of death comes a new life.
9. THE REWARD. The hero takes possession of the treasure won by facing death. There may be celebration, but there is also danger of losing the treasure again.
10. THE ROAD BACK. About three-fourths of the way through the story, the hero is driven to complete the adventure, leaving the Special World to be sure the treasure is brought home. Often a chase scene signals the urgency and danger of the mission.
11. THE RESURRECTION. At the climax, the hero is severely tested once more on the threshold of home. He or she is purified by a last sacrifice, another moment of death and rebirth, but on a higher and more complete level. By the hero’s action, the polarities that were in conflict at the beginning are finally resolved.
12. RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR. The hero returns home or continues the journey, bearing some element of the treasure that has the power to transform the world as the hero has been transformed.
According to Vogler's analysis, the Journey is populated by archetypes—basic functions that tend to appear in every story. They are recurring patterns of human behavior, symbolized by standard types of characters in movies and stories.
1. HEROES Central figures in stories. Everyone is the hero of his or her own myth.
2. SHADOWS Villains, antagonist or enemies, perhaps the enemy within. The dark side of the Force, the repressed possibilities of the hero, his or her potential for evil. Can be other kinds of repression, such as repressed grief, anger, frustration or creativity that is dangerous if it does not have an outlet.
3. MENTORS The hero’s guide or guiding principles, for example Yoda, Merlin, Gandalf, a great coach or teacher.
4. HERALD One who brings the Call to Adventure. Could be a person or an event.
5. THRESHOLD GUARDIANS The forces that stand in the way at important turning points, including jealous enemies, professional gatekeepers, or your own fears and doubts.
6. SHAPESHIFTERS In stories, creatures like vampires or werewolves who change shape. In life, the shapeshifter represents change or ambiguity. The way other people (or our perceptions of them) keep changing. The opposite sex, the way people can be two-faced.
7. TRICKSTERS Clowns and mischief-makers, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy. Our own mischievous subconscious, urging us to change.
8. ALLIES Characters who help the hero through the change. Sidekicks, buddies, girlfriends who advise the hero through the transitions of life.
The book stems from a seven page studio memo, "A Practical Guide to The Hero with a Thousand Faces", based on Campbell's work, which Vogler wrote while working for Disney. An earlier edition, The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Storytellers and Screenwriters, was published in 1992. Vogler revised the book for a second release in 1998 and changed the title to The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers. The third edition, published in 2007, included a new introduction, new artwork and analysis of recent, popular motion pictures.
The title of the book was influenced by a number of sources. The first came from Campbell's text, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Later, in the 1980s, two documentaries would introduce the phrase, The Hero's Journey into popular discourse. The first, released in 1987, The Hero's Journey: The World of Joseph Campbell was accompanied by a 1990 companion book, The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work. The second was Bill Moyers' series of seminal interviews with Campbell, released in 1988 as the documentary (and companion book) The Power of Myth.
- BBC Writers Room staff. "Christopher Vogler's screenwriting workshop". BBC Writers Room. Archived from the original on 2007-08-18. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
- Exposure staff. "Recommended Reading". Exposure.co.uk. Retrieved 2007-08-06.
- De Montfort University. "Recommended Reading". Demontfort University Official Website (Humanities). Archived from the original on 2007-02-17. Retrieved 2007-08-06.
- Editing Service Staff. "Books about Writing". OgleMoore staff. Retrieved 2007-08-06.
- The Writer's Journey, Christopher Vogler, http://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero%27s_journey.htm
- Vogler, Christopher. "A Practical Guide to The Hero with a Thousand Faces". An online copy of the memo.