Thursday, April 7, 2011

Writer's Journey - Ordinary World

I am a little late today. I did a web radio interview for The Authors Show which will air in the near future. It was an interesting experience. The directors edit the telephone conversation then post the edited version on the show for listening. He says some people receive good results, while others receive none. I hope mine falls in the first category.

Now that the archetypes have been somewhat covered, I'll delve deeper into the 12 elements of a story according to The Writer's Journey. Each post will be followed the next time with Questioning the Journey. At times it may take two posts to cover the material. Let's begin at the beginning - Ordinary World.

As you previously learned, the Hero lives in his Ordinary World until something happens to disrupt it. We all know the opening must "hook the reader, set the tone of the story, suggest where it is going and get across a lot of information without slowing the pace."

Think how your audience will first encounter the book - title, first paragraph, first dialogue, where in the character's lives the story fits, an introduction or prologue. Even though many people wait to come up with a title, you still need to be considering it from the beginning. The beginning comes from a few symbols or metaphors that put the audience in the right mood for the journey.

Take The Godfather as an example. The title suggests the main character is both god and father. Yet we see in movie trailers, posters and the logo that there is a puppeteer working the strings of an unknown marionette. Is the main character the puppeteer or the puppet of a higher force. The title and imagery presents a metaphor with many interpretations.

A prologue can introduce the main characters, their world, cue the audience as the the kind of story it is, start with a bang, introduce the villain or story threat, and fill in necessary backstory.  Most children's books do not have a prologue. Backstory is woven throughout the book. 

Many books simply begin by placing the Hero in his Ordinary World before any problem arises. It is necessary to contrast it to the Special World the Hero will be thrown in later. It might provide some backstory. We discovered from the The Wizard of Oz how the Ordinary contrasts to the Special World by using black and white for the Ordinary World and color for the Special World. Even though the world may seem boring we might get some foreshadowing of what is to come. Dorothy clashes with the ornery neighbor and is rescued by three farmhands. This beginning foreshadows the problems to come and with whom. 

The Ordinary World offers a glimpse into what the Hero wants and raises some questions. Will the hero win the game, get the gold, and beat the villains?

Next post will cover some other Ordinary World points. 

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