View Full Version : Story Writing Tutorial (pt. 1)

12-13-2005, 03:04 AM
A Hero's Journey

Hey gang, how goes all? I've decided to post a tutorial on what information I have garnered in my travels as an aspiring writer. I think there's a very basic system that can be put to good use for aspiring comic writers (and simply writers in general). Keep an open mind as some of these ideas may seem a little against the grain. It's not a method, it's mostly just an observation on storytelling.

The Monomyth
Basically, the first thing any author has to accept is that his story, however unique, has been told. Not only this, but that all stories are basically the same in nature. All myths, jokes, tales, legends, films, novels, and comics- all of them- have a hero. And these heroes, no matter how many masks they may wear, move from an ordinary world, to a special world, and then come home again. This may be a physical journey from the land of the living to the land of the dead and back again. This may be an emotional journey from a comfort zone of the hero to a land of new discovery. As a writer, you must understand this in order to move past this. Once you discover that your story has been told in some way or another you can find the way to emphasize the unique parts of your story. Just because every story has been told, it doesn't mean that every story has been told the way you want to tell it.

The Process
We're going to tackle the basic "monomyth" structure in a few steps of explanation. They are as follows:

The Archetypes - Our Collective Conscious Characters
The Hero's Journey - The Monomyth as Plot
Analysis of Akira, vol. 1 - Seeing the Hero's Journey Across the World

Hopefully, if anyone's interested, I'll write my little heart out explaining what I've learned. I think if given the right effort and mindset we can all learn how to pump out these stories- or figure out why some comics work and some comics just don't. Stick with me dear readers, we'll see where this goes.

I'm working out of three main books right now to get all of my information. I'm training to be a writer in school and hope that if you're serious about the craft (comics or otherwise) you'll be able to take something away from this. The resources I've learned from are as follows:

The Hero with the Thousan Faces by: Joseph Cambell
The Writer's Journey by: Christopher Vogler
Story by: Robert Mckee

More to come, stay tuned.

12-21-2005, 03:47 AM
wow. I'm interested!

12-29-2005, 07:36 PM
Sounds interesting, but somehow shallow.

Dwee dee(3d)
01-03-2006, 02:29 PM
(forgive the bump) Um... I second what mezmo said..
-I understand that there are common structures writers use (I've used some myself) but: a story that an author should share (publish or whatever) should have some life of it's own... or some nagging thing the author wants to let out..

some stories have changed societies in the past... and it wasn't because they had a "system" or a "template".... (okay, I'm probably wrong about that..)

01-04-2006, 09:31 AM
i think you are. there is obviously a template for stories. on some level there are parallels between all stories, even if its just the emotions they are designed to evoke. Thats not to say Gatsby has the exact formula correct here, but i think his talk of journies is highly accurate, and of course it is shallow. Since when have templates been deep? The depth has to come from the author, this is where the "life of its own" comes from.

01-04-2006, 09:49 AM
Indeed there is a certain template that most stories follow, but there are a select few that are unique in nature overall, proving that you don't always have to follow the same template, breaking from the mundane sort-of-speak. This is very interesting thus far, I will await more of this very good info.

Dwee dee(3d)
01-04-2006, 10:25 AM
If you really wanna go into this sort of thing...(for fun anyways, here's a link that'll keep you interested. (for a while anyway..)
http://jameshudnall.com/toc.htm -just skim through it (I read the whole thing already... back in '02..)

01-05-2006, 11:50 AM
Please .... do continue ....

Noir Proxy
01-05-2006, 12:22 PM
Your theory that every story has been told is really false and doesn't encourage people reading this to have the confidense to make their ideas feel unique, a story however you may write it, is always unique.
At first the outline of the story will mostly seem like it has been told before lets say Terry Pratchett and Clive Barker, they both write about fantasy worlds basing on individuals that want to be accepted by society as they feel some what like a failure to the life they live.
But the point is a story only flows with the use of emotional thinking, every story we read keeps us within the interest circle because we feel a emotional connection or emotional interest that keeps is reading page after page after page.

Lets move onto your next point just where you finished talking about "Just because every story has been told, it doesn't mean that every story has been told the way you want to tell it" this completely kills what you have been trying to tell us by saying that we have to accept every story if we like it or not has been told and there is no way for a new uniquness.

I think you need to rethink your tutorial and especially try not to make it so shallow

Dwee dee(3d)
01-05-2006, 12:29 PM
Okay... Coming up with stories is difficult if you don't know where to start.
-Here's the absolute first thing I try straightening if I can...

-time... each story has a time span. It doesn't have to be presented from the first time it starts to when it really ends, it just has to be there.

Think of it like this. Most people are familiar with the pandora's box consept, right? the timespan sort of starts when the box is opened and every bad thing comes out, to when the smallest thing comes out of the box; which is hope. or something like that:)

After that's established, you have to sort of put this into perspective with the character's lifespan: -Does this story elapse in a couple of hours, or does this go on for who knows how many generations.. (eg: once upon a time...)

After that... you gotta slap together the character's story. (at least the character you're gonna follow in the story... -remember, each and every character in your story has their own story, their own purpose, their own question they need answered (their own pandora's box even.. :hint: :hint:)

Then, you gotta freestyle after this... after you've reached the point in the last paragraph... you've basically decided "where" you're going, and all that's left is "how" you get there. -This is the part you don't want to specify. The part that lets you write no matter what mood you're in (which is usually where most writer's blocks come up). At this point: you're free to twist your story and do whatever you want to get to the end.. The "how" part, is pretty much where all the fun is...

-now go write stuff. (and draw too :) )

01-05-2006, 12:37 PM
Of course every story has already been told, and saying it can be told in different ways does not change this one bit.

Also why do people keep talking about shallow? There are so many different forms of the "story" that a tutorial can never turly be deep unless it is a hold your hand through guide through a specific genre.

Dwee dee 3D, i dont want to insult you, and i do not mean this is an offensive manner. but earlier in this forum you agreed with the view that the tutorial was shallow, yet the version you produced was just as shallow. "you gotta freestyle after this."

Now as you know I have nothing against shallow tutorials, but if you're gonna bitch about it don't then do exactly the same thing back.

Finally let me stress these are opinions only, and i don't mean them aggresively.

Noir Proxy
01-05-2006, 12:41 PM
Lets just sit down and eat some cake

Dwee dee(3d)
01-05-2006, 12:44 PM
not shallow... they were just made to look simpler than they actually were...
(I wasn't trying to put down the thread, just... thought it needed something more -which I couldn't manage to provide...)

and when I said "freestyle" I meant that once the needed parameters (depends on how U look at it) have been set, you can plan as you write based on how you feel about the story at whatever point. By freestyle, I meant, leave it open and don't plan in advance. Just write.

Noir Proxy
01-05-2006, 12:50 PM
I will let you kids figure this out yourselves lol

01-05-2006, 12:53 PM
Cake, I love cake! Ok, not that much...

But seriously, I think that Gatsby is just offering writing help. Some people on this board don't have a place to start, nor do they know how to keep the reader going, and finish the story. This really shouldn't be a debate on whether or not he is right or wrong. Both sides argue very valid points, so I say lets let Gatsby post his help. It can really help the writers or prospective writers that need the little bump.

01-05-2006, 12:56 PM
theMadHatter - yes. cakes sounds good.
IAC - and thus the argument ends.

Dwee dee(3d)
01-05-2006, 12:56 PM
or a shove :D

Noir Proxy
01-05-2006, 01:08 PM
What about a crate of strong assorted alcohol?

01-05-2006, 01:42 PM
throw in some sort of chocolate and i think we're set.

03-29-2006, 04:43 AM
personally i dont use any `templates` i just desgin my comic around one character ,i work out their `world` around their proffesion, then i make secondary characters around them, ie their weakness`s then their personalties, if they like them,or hate em,they i design enemies due from the main characters profession ie if the main character is a assasin then their enemies would be police or whatever,then i start to work the background of the `world`,like what made the character become whatever, ie grudge,just a f**ked up world etc then i design settings or places then from there i think up scenarios and stories,either past or present(past to help explain characters)and just go from there i guess

oh yeah whats all this `bout cake?

10-03-2007, 10:28 AM
Woah, this thing's old...
Right, seems I've got a lot of catching up to do, so:
1) You're right, almost all stories have been told somewhere before. But remember that everything has a beginning, and that's got to be somewhere, so why can't it be in our time?
2) If you're looking for more books on this subject, I heartily recomend A Tough Guide to Fantasyland, bu an author I can't remember at this point in time...
3) Yes. Cake is a good idea.
4) I also like the idea of chocolate.

10-04-2007, 01:59 PM
And thus spake the fruit-loop: "bring on the cake!"

Oh, damn, sorry for the double-post. Didn't notice this other one...forget my own heads next.