Writer's Assist (formulae)
Image:The Elements Of Screen Stories.pdf excerpts from Screen writing 101, by Neill D.Hicks
Natya Shastra notes
The Hero's Journey. Notes adapted from a adaptation of Joseph Campbell's Book, to apply to screenwriting At heart, despite its infinite variety, the hero’s story is always a journey. A hero leaves her ordinary, comfortable surrounding t venture into a challenging, unfamiliar world. It may be an outward journey to an actual place- a labyrinth, fort, cave or a strange city.
Or an inward journey- on of the mind, the heart, the spirit. Hero grows and changes, making a journey from one way of being to the next- from despair to hope, weaknes to strength. Love to hate and back again. It is these emotional journey’s that hook an audience and make a story worth watching.
-The stages of a hero’s journey can be traced in all kinds of stories. -consider these twelve stages as a map of the Hero’s journey, one of many ways to get from here to there, but one of the most flexible, durable and dependable.
The Stages of the Hero’s Journey ACT 1 Ordinary world. 2. call to adventure. 3. refusal to the call. 4. meeting with the mentor. 5. crossing the first threshold.
ACT 2 6. Tests, allies, enemies. 7.Approach. 8. Supreme ordeal. 9. Reward. 10. The Road back.
ACT 3 11. Resurrection. 12. Return with Elixir.
1. The Ordinary World. If you are going to show a fish out of his customary element, you have to first show him in that ordinary world to create a vivid context with the strange new world he is about to enter. 2. The Call to Adventure. The hero is presented with a particular problem, a challenge or adventure to undertake. The call to adventure establishes the stakes of the game and makes clear the hero’s goal to win the treasure or the lover, to get revenge or right and wrong, to achieve dreams, confront or challenge, or change o life- will Luke rescue Princess Leia and defeat Darth Vader? Boy meets girl, but does boy get a girl?* 3. The Refusal of the Call. (The reluctant hero)the hero has not yet fully committed to the journey and may still be thinking of turning back, some other influences- a change of circumstances, a further offence against the natural order of things, or the encouragement of the mentor- is required to get her past this turning point of fear. Like- Luke refuses Obiwan’s* call to adventure and returns to his aunt’s and uncle’s farmhouse, only to find they have been barbecued by the Emperor’s stormtroopers. The evil of the Empire had become personal to him. He is motivated. 4. Mentor ( the wise old man or a woman) The relationship between hero and mentor is one of the most common themes of mythology, and one of the richest in symbolic value. It stands for the bond between parent and child, teacher and students, doctor and patient, god and man. A wise old wizard*, a tough drill sergeant, a boxing coach. The function of the mentor is to prepare the hero to face the unknown- an advice guidance, or a magical equipment- Obiwan gives Luke his father’s light saber*. However the mentor can only go so far. 5. Crossing the first threshold. Now the hero finally commits to the adventure and fully enters the special world of the story first by crossing the first threshold. He agrees to face the consequences of dealing with the problem of challenge posed in the call to adventure. This is the moment when the story takes off and the adventure really gets going. The balloon goes up, the shop sails, the Romance begins, the plane or space ship soars off. The wagon train gets rolling. 6. Tests, allies and enemies. Once across the first threshold, the hero naturally encounters new challenges and tests, makes allies and enemies. And begins to understand the rules of the new world. In Casablanca, Ricks café in the den or intrigue in which alliances and enmities are forged. Hero’s moral courage is tested. Scenes like these allow for character development as we watch the hero and his companions react under stress. In the Star Wars ‘Cantina’ Luke gets to see Han Solo’s way of handling a tight situation and learns that Obwan is a warrior wizard of great power. Several aspects of the heroes character- aggressiveness and hostility, knowledge of street fight attitude about women- are revealed. Obiwan teaches Luke about the Force by making him fight blindfolded. The early laser battles with imperial fighters are another test which Luke successfully passes. 7. Approach to the inmost cave. The hero comes at last to the edge of a dangerous place, some times deep underground, where the object of quest is hidden when the hero enters that fearful place. He will cross the second major threshold. Hero often pauses at the gate to prepare,plan and outwit the villain guards. This is the phase of approach. In mythology the inmost cave may represent the land of the dead. The hero may have to descend into hell to rescue a loved one, into a cave to fight dragon to win a treasure, or into a labyrinth to confront a monster. In Star Wars the inmost cave is Luke and company being sucked into deathstar – where they will face Darth Vader and rescue princess Leia.
8. Supreme ordeal. Here the fortunes of the hero hit bottom in a direct confrontation with hs greates fear,. He faces the possibility of death and is brought to the brink in a battle with a horrible force the Supreme ordeal is a black moment for the audience, as wewe are held in suspense and tension, not knowing if he will live or die. In Star wars- moment in the bowels of the death star when Luke Leia are trapped in the giant trash masher- Luke under by the tentacled monster. In E.T. – alien momentarily appears to die on the operation table. This stage is a critical moment in any story- in which hero must die or appear to die so that she can be born again. The experience of the preceding stages have led us, the audience, to identify with the hero and her fate. What happens to the hero happens to us. We are encouraged to experience the death moment with her. And the revival is a feeling of elation.
The designers of amusement park thrill rides know how to use this principle. You never more alive than when you’re looking death in the face. This is also the key element in rites of passage or ritual of imitation into fraternities and secret societies. The initiate is forced to taste death in some terrible experience resurrection as he reborn as a new member of the group. The hero of every story is an initiate being introduced to the mysteries of life and death.
9. Reward. Seizing the sword. Having survived death, beaten the dragon hero and audience have cause to celebrate. The hero now takes possession of the treasure she has come seeking, her reward. It might be a special weapon like a magic sword, or a token like the Grail, or some elixir which can heal the wounded land. Some times sword is knowledge and experience that leads to greater understanding and reconciliation with hostile forces.
10. The road back. The hero is not out of the woods yet- we are crossing into Act Three now as the hero begins to deal with the consequences of confronting the dark forces of the supreme ordeal. If she has notyet managed to reconcile with parent, the gods, or with the hostile forces, they may may come raging after her. Some of the best chase sequences happen at this point. Like Luke and Leia are furiously pursued by Darth Vader as they escape the Death star. The road back in E.T. is the moonlight bicycle flight of Elliot in E.T. This stage marks the decision to return to the ordinary world.
11. Resurrection In ancient times, hunters ad warriors had to be purified before they returned to their communities, because they had blood on their hands. The hero who has been to the realm of the dead must be reborn and cleansed in one last ordeal of Death and Resurrection before returning to the ordinary world of living. This is often a second life- and death- movemtn almost a replay of the death and rebirth of the Supreme Ordeal. Death and darkness get in one last- desperate shot before being finally defeated. The hero is transformed by the moments of death and rebirth and is able to return to ordinary life reborn as a new being with new insight.
12. Return with elixir. The hero returns to the ordinary world, but the journey is meaningless unless she rings back some of Elixir, treasure, or lesson from the supernatural world. E.T. returns home with the experience of friendship with humans. Luke Skywalker defeats Darth Vadar and restores peace and order to the galaxy.
Unless something is brought back from the ordeal in the inmost cave, the hero is doomed to repeat the adventure. Like a foolish character refuses to learn his lesson and embarks on the same folly that got him into trouble in the first place.
To recap the Hero’s journey
1. Heroes are introduced in the ordinary world where 2. they receive the call to the adventure. 3. they are reluctant at first or refuse the call, but 4. are encouraged by their mentor to 5. cross the frist threshold and the special world where 6. they encounter tests, allies and enemies. 7. the approach to the inmost cave, crossing a second threshold. 8. where they endure the supreme ordeal 9. they take possession of their reward and 10. are pursued on the Road Back to the Ordinary World. 11. they cross the third threshold, experience resurrection and are transformed by experiences 12. they return with the Elixir, a boon or treasure to benefit the ordinary world.
Now that we’ve looked over the map, lets met the characters who populate the landscape of story telling: the archetypes.
If you want to work here, locate yourself in one of these frames and begin to work.. what is your story magnification?