Skip to main content

The Billionaire Writer's Secret


During a career spanning twenty-five years of novel, film, and television work, I've two major tools most valuable: the yogic “chakras” for characterization, and Joseph Campbell’s model of the Hero’s Journey for plot structure.

These are not random choices, nor were they selected because of the many intelligent and thoughtful essays on their relationship to successful film or world myth.

Rather, they are important because they create a connection between the inner world of the writer, and the external world of the finished work—and the reader.

A plot structure is nothing more than a tool for organizing events in temporal sequence. While there are more such structures than there are professional writers, few of them meet what thousands of students consider a critical test: are they actually easy to use and apply? A simple tool, however limited, can be of greater use than a complicated tool that requires years to master.

Remember: you will achieve real quality in your writing only by mastering your basics.
The Hero’s Journey, extracted from thousands of years of world mythology, has the advantage of actually mimicking the path of life itself. The “three act structure” does not. After all…life isn’t divided into three, or five, or eight acts.

Such divisions can be useful tools, but they should never be mistaken for some kind of “truth” about existence. In comparison, note this interpretation (there are others) of the steps of the Hero’s Journey, and to explain them, we’ll look at the first Star Wars movie, “Episode IV, A New Hope”:

1) Hero Confronted With A Challenge. “Come with me, Luke, learn the ways of the Force.” This is pretty clear, right? There has to be a challenge, or a beckoning, or the character won’t begin to change—and all great writing is about change.

2) Hero Initially rejects the challenge, :I promised Uncle Owen I’d work on the moisture evaporators.” A real challenge, one that can provoke real change, will be frightening and exciting. A character will usually have some reservations.

3) Hero accepts the challenge. Luke’s aunt and uncle are killed, freeing him from his oath. If your character doesn’t accept the challenge, there is no story—unless the story is about the consequences of not accepting responsibility.

4) The Road of trials. Traveling to the desert town and cantina, getting on Han Solo’s spaceship, traveling to other planets, etc. This is the section where locations and sequence interact. The character travels, learns, commits actions that force inter-action with the environment, and the environment responds positively or negatively, with greater and greater stakes as the story proceeds.

5) Gaining Allies and Powers. Luke meets Han Solo, and Chewbacca, and Obi-Wan, and Princess Leia. He learns of the Force, and the use of Light Sabers, and how to fly and fight and rescue princesses. If your character doesn’t have to grow in order to resolve the problem, you may have chosen the wrong problem or character!

Ultimate Copywriting
Learn To Write Persuasive Copy With This Copywriter Coaching Program That Includes Personal Feedback


6) Initial Confrontation with Evil, and defeat. Obi-Wan’s death. Or possibly the disastrous attack on the Death Star. One is private and emotional, the other spectacular and physical.

7) Dark Night of the Soul. The moment of greatest weakness. Luke begins to believe he cannot win, and everything he loves will die.

8) Leap of Faith. “Trust your Feelings, Luke.” The leap of Faith is always faith in one of three things: faith in self, faith in your companions, or faith in a higher power. In “Star Wars” it is all three! This may be the only time in the history of cinema that this was true, and helps to explain why George Lucas is a billionaire.

9) Confront Evil—victorious. The Death Star blows up.

10) Student Becomes the Teacher. Luke is presented with medals, which establish him as a role model.

The above ten steps are not some cookie-cutter pattern. They are the combined world wisdom about the path of life itself, the process we go through in achieving any worthwhile goal. There will be fear. There will be defeat. We will need to gain new skills and friends and partners. We must be clear on our acceptance of goals and responsibility. We must have faith. And ultimately, if we have struggled, and learned, and sacrificed, and moved through our fear…we learn and grow and succeed. And then we teach others. This is the pattern of life, and any time you organize information and events into a pattern even vaguely reminiscent of this, the human nervous system, worldwide, will recognize it as story.
It is NOT some kind of cure-all for bad story tellers. What these ten steps are is something analogous to the eighty-eight keys of a piano. Understand the emotional and life significance of each step, and then “play them” as your developed instincts dictate. Make your own kind of music. The pattern has worked for about thirty thousand years. It will work for you, too.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Discover What Good Writing Is All About

Writing is a form of preserved talk, talk that has been pinned down on paper so the words can be heard again. The basic principles of good writing, apart, from grammatical correctness, might be presented as follows:

1) written sentences should sound like natural speech;

2) the words we use must be exact, fresh, full of strength and vitality. Picture making words are better than vague, general words;

3) fresh point of view will give flavor to the style;

4) humor will lighten it.

Though, it is true that written sentences should sound like natural speech, they fully present an image of the natural speech. The reasons for this are fairly obvious: natural speech is a great deal more than words; it is also tone of voice, facial expression, gestures, and even the speaker’s appearance.

The whole point of writing is to create something better than we really talk – something more interesting, more thoughtful, and more effective in every way, for “effectiveness is what matters, and if an expres…

Article Submissions - Pointing You in the Right Direction

All of you who have been thinking of publishing articles probably seem to be noticing a lot more ads showing up when you search Google for article submission sites. So what does this all mean for you?

Well it leaves you the choice of where you wish to submit your article to. Lately new software is out that can let people get an article directory up and running in just a couple of hours and it seems every little fish wants a piece of the action.

So how do you choose the correct article directory for your article submission?

Here are a few tips to get you in the right direction:

Design - You probably are asking yourself why the design of the article directory has anything to do with how good this directory is for you. Well it is, it shows how serious the owners of the site are taking it - the more professional and maintained it looks the longer the site will be online and the more popularity it will gain.

RSS Feeds - Make sure the article directory you are submitting your article to h…

Ready, Set, Go Sell Your Book In The Real World!

We hear a lot these days about more books actually being sold 'outside' the traditional bookstore.  Think about it. When was the last time you actually took time to linger and explore the bookshelves? When did you last impulsively grab a book, flip it over, read the blurbs, and finger through a few chapters? Let's face it, most of us are too hurried.

So What's The Point?
If you don't take the time to browse, why expect your potential customer to do so? 

Try This:
Grab about five copies of your book, and head for the "Ma and Pa" stores in your hometown area.  Pick a time when you know it won't be too busy. Talk to the owner or manager. Ask him if you may set up a small display on his counter. Offer him a percentage of each sale.

Get Impulsive!
Go for the impulse buyers!  Haven't you at one time, while waiting at a cash register, seen a small display of books on the counter?  Before it was your turn to get checked out, you grabbed it, became exci…

The article about nothing

Hmmm, no ideas? So what? Ever thought of writing about….nothing? You know this is actually common nowadays. I don’t know how you feel but I am overwhelmed about the abundance of information that can be found everywhere.

Everyone is writing about everything. The same subjects are written and rewritten and rewritten and I look and them and wonder how the hell is this supposed to help the modern man become more efficient? The truth is that we are in a hurry, our whole lives are spent running from place to place, trying to keep up with the others around us. We sleep less trying to make more time for ourselves, but we end up wasting that time on useless things.

How about TV ? How useless is that? I really think that you are in the danger of becoming dumber if you spend too much time in front of it. There are people that spend half of the day, that becomes half of their life in front of the TV. You know  what the worst part is ? Most shows on TV are for complete morons … instead of watchi…

The Most Important Rule Of Writing

So many of difficulties struggling writers face occur when they ignore this simple rule. Once you embrace the fact that writing is a process rather than an event, once you recognize that the more time you give the process to work the better, then not only will writing be easier you will also write better.

Writing is a process. While that process varies somewhat based on the task and the individual writer, the basic steps it includes are the same no matter what.

First is the initial brainstorming process. No actual writing takes place in this step although there may be some note taking or non-stop writing exercises. The more time you give yourself for this process then the easier the next step will be. Experiment with various forms of brainstorming and prewriting to determine which works best for you and your various writing tasks. What may work in one type of writing may not work as well with another. The more you experiment then the more likely you will find the optimum brainstormin…

Write About Something That Will Change Your Life!

It's been said that you should "write about what you know". It's also been said that doing that condemns you to a life of boredom as you'll never grow beyond your current limitations.

Not very helpful, is it?

It's also been said that you should write about what you're passionate about, interested in or otherwise taken by, as you'll spend so much time researching it, writing it and rewriting it, that it had better light your fire, or it will drive you insane. And then again, others say don't tackle a topic you know nothing about, you should write what you know....

And so we go around in ever decreasing circles.

I actually subscribe to the "write what you know" line of thought, but with a bit of a twist. I encourage writers to write about what they know on an emotional level.

Try writing a story that heals YOU. Emotions are the universal language. We all feel the same feelings, we may just experience them in different ways. We all recogni…