Tools for Plotting: Chris Vogler on The Hero's Journey

For the past few weeks, I've been bashing my head against the wall, struggling to shape an amorphous blob of a "big idea" into what I hope will become a satisfying story, an epic journey for both the story's heroine and its readers. Recently, I came across a mention of Chris Vogler's wonderful The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, which is based on the work of Joseph Campbell,
and I was flooded with relief. Although there are plenty of other ways to tell a story, I've always loved reading, watching, and writing the classic hero's journey-styled tale. For the writer, the conscious examination of the unconscious structure we're all programmed to recognize can help to shore up structure in a way nothing else can.

This week, I'm going to try sketching out my heroine's journey by pulling this favorite from my personal toolbox. If you, too, could use a reminder (or an intro) check out this quick video with of screenwriting story consultant Chris Vogler speaking on the stages. The accompanying screen shots from The Matrix are extremely helpful, too.

And if you don't have the book, consider clicking through the link and picking up a copy. This is one of a handful of go-to resources I've used again and again throughout the years.


You might also be interested in The Heroine's Journey, by Maureen Murdock. In the prison this summer, I'm teaching a class called Mythic Structure for Writers (which I'm really jazzed about, btw!). We're going to examine several different "templates" for structure, including those two. We're also going to be talking about resonant archetypes (ala Campbell).

I do this, of course, because I struggle with overall arc/plot structure. It's the thing that doesn't come naturally to me, particularly when writing suspense.
I'll have to check out Murdock's book, Kathryn. Thanks for the recommendation.

Another book I like a lot is 45 Master Characters:Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters, by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. She includes a section covering a feminine version (not always used for female characters) of the hero's journey as well.
Ooooh, thanks! Any recommendations like this will be so appreciated, particularly in light of that class.
Anonymous said…
Kal's interpretation over at is better than Vogler's.
Ah, yes. Thank you, Anonymous. I'd seen that website before but couldn't find it again, and will definitely be pointing that to my students.
Anonymous said…
See Kal Bashir's screenwriting / hero's journey work at
Anonymous said…
Oops! Just realised that somebody already mentioned Kal's site. Sorry. Honest mistake. Ouch.
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