In many self-help writing books and seminars, The Writer’s Journey appears again and again as a reference. After reading many dry and analytical structure books, I was pleasantly surprised at how readable this book was. It has a very conversational and relatable style, and I didn’t feel as if I was reading a class lecture or being talked down to.
It discusses the various structures and explains how to fulfill each of the twelve steps of the writing “journey.” It includes familiar stages such as the Ordinary World (exposition and setup), Call to Adventure (inciting event), Call Refusal, Meeting the Mentor, and other well-explained steps necessary for a successful novel. Before he begins, Mr. Vogler explains the archetypes, some of which I was not familiar with such as the Shapeshifter and the Shadow.
Using movies such as Star Wars and Wizard of Oz as examples, Mr. Vogler explains each stage of the journey, but with a sincere and calm delivery. He doesn’t say what we must do or point out one path. His helpful voice and attitude made reading this a pleasure. I was surprised how fast it read and how much I learned. As with all these analytical books on writing, I personally feel they are more helpful after the novel is written to determine what’s missing. Keeping all these building blocks juggled in the air while writing would be too much (consciously reminding myself to include the Road Block or meet the Threshold Guardian), but might be helpful when editing afterward to ensure all the expected parts are there.
The Writer’s Journey is one of the most easily assimilated structure books I’ve encountered, and I intend to use it when reviewing my own novels. I particularly liked his analyses at the end of modern blockbusters and how they fit into the writer’s journey.