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The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers [Paperback]

Christopher Vogler , Michele Montez
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 1 2007
The udated and revised third edition provides new insights and observations from Vogler's ongoing work on mythology's influence on stories, movies, and man himself. The previous two editons of this book have sold over 180,000 units, making this book a 'classic' for screenwriters, writers, and novelists.

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Product Description

Book Description

See why this book has become an international best seller and a true classic. The Writer's Journey explores the powerful relationship between mythology and storytelling in a clear, concise style that's made it required reading for movie executives, screenwriters, playwrights, scholars, and fans of pop culture all over the world. The updated and revised third edition provides new insights and observations from Vogler's ongoing work on mythology's influence on stories, movies, and man himself.
--This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

About the Author

Christopher Vogler is a veteran story consultant for major Hollywood film companies and a respected teacher of filmmakers and writers around the globe.
--This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not all wisdom resides in any one school Jan. 2 2012
If you are interested in becoming a writer, it helps to read several of these books. Having already read Story, and gone to a seminar by Robert McKee, I am interested in reading others because not all wisdom resides in any one school.

Chris Vogler offers fresh and invigorating perspectives, illustrated with fascinating examples from many excellent movies from such as Wizard of Oz. He worked on the screenplay of The Lion King, and I found its derivation from the plot of Hamlet interesting to say the least.

If you're like me the you may appreciate the Metaphor of the Hero's Journey the most. George Lucas in Star Wars follows the mythical blueprint laid down by Jseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
Vogler offers a succinct inspiring explanation and I could imagine myself in the hero's shoes doing what the hero has to do, what we all have to do. Having read this, the familiar patterns of many great movies suddenly became clearer. Additionally the explantion of the common mythical archetypes merits continued reading. For example the trickster appears in both Star Wars, and The Matrix, and you may recognise Darth Vader as pure shadow.

Many movies start in the Ordinary World, and then there is the call to adventure. Often the hero is reluctant to make a change, so then we have the next stage which is refusal of the call. Eventually we move into the Special world, and in SW and The Matrix our hero joins the rebels and starts to develop special abilities. Another good example of this is Wanted with Angelina Jolie.

He uses over 100 well known movies as examples to illustrate his points, including Titanic. I truly appreciate these insights. Perhaps the most interesting insight for me personally is the idea of polarity or conflict.
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Excellent book !!! After reading this you can see films more clearly of how they are structured and how each character's purpose can shape your story. Also the concept of Mythical structures being used in everyday writing blew my mind.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great for the layman. Aug. 4 2013
I read this a few years ago and it's always stuck with me as a good lasting impression. One I've recommended to a few people in casual chats.

Ive yet to read the Joseph Campbell books this is inspired by, but felt It's an easy read and I would say it great for any novice like me as an introduction to the craft. I've read plenty of other how to books on writing, since, and always looking for more, but I don't think you can go wrong having this in your library.

I know the Campbell ones are more 'heavy' and acedemic , but will feel more confident picking them up now thanks to this.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Useful Dec 29 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It explores only one facet of the screenplay writing. Useful, but limited. Here are eight more words, counting the whole sentence.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  207 reviews
61 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Journey for Everyman Sept. 21 2007
By Kort - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
As a fan of Joseph Campbell and amateur writer, this book really appeals to me. It is more than just a how-to for aspiring novelists, it is a how-to for life. It is geared toward the writing of novels and stories with human drama and interaction, which makes it a bit more specialized. If you want a more general but very good reference for writing in general, then I recommend Simon & Schuster Handbook for Writers (8th Edition) (MyCompLab Series) -- it is worth it's weight in gold.

Back to the book at hand. Christopher Vogler's 3rd edition TWJ is actually a very compelling read rather than a dry textbook sort of how-to. It is a very clear and readable application of J. Campbell's theories about the mythic structure in film and book. The inclusion of the 6 Star Wars movies and their epic story arc makes for very interesting reading too. Delving into this book reveals ways to better create strong characters with depth and substance that will help set any story apart. Its study of mythology gives it a strong classical foundation from which a writer can draw upon in the creation of their own epic sagas.

The author has worked on such films as The Thin Red Line, Fight Club, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast so have no doubt that he knows his stuff, and presents in well in this 365 page gem. Vogler shows you how to go beyond the normal everyday writing (emails, letters, articles, etc.) to tackle the daunting task of structuring a novel that is thousands of words in size.

If you have yet to publish a novel but are an aspiring writer, add this to your list of required reads. If you are a fan of Joseph Campbell and myth, or even just interested in the mysteries of life and human interaction, then this book will not let you down. The iconic woodcut illustrations were a nice touch as well.
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Joseph Campbell Cliffs Notes Sept. 29 2007
By Zachary S. Houp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
From page one, Christopher Vogler evidences his sincere passion for the theories of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung. This is his book's greatest asset. Even in the introduction, he reflects on the applicability of the "Hero's Journey" to everyday life, rendering what is otherwise a mere literary and mythological structure into a life philosophy that will certainly have the capacity to assuage those readers who may find themselves, from time to time, in "the belly of the beast" or among any number of "threshold guardians." Moreover, Vogler establishes himself early on as an expert, occupying countless positions in Hollywood and particularly in Disney's animation department.

But regardless of his passion and his experience, Vogler does not transform his book into anything but a watered-down rehash of Joseph Campbell's theories. Yes, these theories may prove more relevant to the layman since Vogler elects to justify the Hero's Journey through contemporary examples rather than Campbell's esoteric myths; he frequently refers to a small cache of pop culture films to illustrate each of the hero's faces and stages. However, the reader should never be fooled: this is diluted Joseph Campbell, and Vogler is even so bold as to slightly re-imagine the stages of the journey to fit his own whim. The fault of the book is that "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" is such an accessible masterwork, with ideas so cogent and convincing, that a book like Vogler's--which aims to make Campbell's ideas applicable to the writer--seems almost superfluous. In short, there is little for the screenwriter to learn here that he couldn't have learned better and more meaningfully from Campbell. What the book requires is an original angle--some kind of entry point into Campbell's theories that merely reading "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" cannot provide. Not surprisingly, the most valuable elements of Vogler's book are the prefatory material and appendices, which are some of the only times we are permitted to see Vogler's own insights and approaches to writing. This is valuable material for an aspiring author!

Unfortunately, much of this must sound like criticism. As an introduction to both Joseph Campbell and screenwriting, the book serves its purpose very well and should likely be a staple for every newcomer to the profession. But for anyone with slightly more experience, the book will surely prove trite and redundant. There is one topic on which Vogler must be given no little credit. He fully recognizes the accusations from auteurs that any "writing theory" substitutes formula for originality. Vogler is aware of this argument and makes every attempt to disavow such a belief. Moreover, he takes great pains to prevent his students from resorting to a formulaic approach to plot construction. While his warnings may not prevent the risk of a new onslaught of paint-by-numbers screenplays, Vogler should be admired for his attempt to counteract this impulse.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too narrow in focus March 24 2010
By Michael D. Fisher - Published on Amazon.com
I read half the book and then had to stop because it was becoming counterproductive for my learning process. I have read many good screenwriting books and the hallmark of each was that they gave instruction on the form and left the plot and character decisions up to the would-be screenwriter. Within the Writer's Journey there are several pages of rigid templates(characters and plots) based on "the hero's journey" plot type. I feel like someone is "giving me a fish" rather than "teaching me to fish".

As general book on screenwriting, I feel that this book does a disservice to its readers: it so exclusively favors the Hero's Journey plot type that it conditions the reader to either (a)shoehorn the form of all their plots into some subset of the Hero's Journey or (b) refrain from even beginning to write a plotline that deviates from Hero's Journey.

2 stars (not just one) because the book's approach might help a beginner to find a concrete catalyst for his/her story.

A good alternative to Writer's Journey would be Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need. It's one of my top recommendations for the would-be screenwriter. It outlines a practical approach to screenplay structure but leaves the central character and plot ideas completely up to the screenwriter.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A basic component of any personal, professional, academic, or community library basic writing reference collection Feb. 5 2008
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Originally published in October 1998, "The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers by Christopher Vogler is now available in an updated and expanded third edition and continues to justifiably lay claim to being one of the most relied upon and influential instructional reference works for aspiring writers -- especially screenwriters. Drawing from the late Joseph Campbell's groundbreaking work, Vogler explores the historic and fundamental relationship between modern storytelling and classical mythology, and in the process reveals a set of useful myth-inspired storytelling paradigms, as well as step-by-step guidelines to plot and character development. This newest edition of a writer's reference classic includes a revised chapter that looks back on the 'Star Wars' phenomenon and an analysis of all six of the feature films as an epic on the theme of father-son relationships. There are new illustrations and diagrams providing additional perspectives to mythic principles. Of special note is the final chapter 'Trust the Path', an inspiring call to adventure for those aspiring writers seeking to discover themselves through their writing. A basic component of any personal, professional, academic, or community library basic writing reference collection, "The Writer's Journey" will now be of benefit to a whole new generation of movie executives, screenwriters, playwrights, literary critics, academic scholars, writers of fiction and non-fiction, students of pop culture, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the adaptation of ancient myth to contemporary storytelling.
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Badly overrated March 13 2011
By Alexis S. Mendez - Published on Amazon.com
The Writer's Journal is a terribly overrated book. These are my main complaints:

1) The book is repetitive. And then the book repeats the same thing. And it is repeated again. The book is, indeed, very repetitive. Repetitive. (Maybe because this was originally a memo written by the author with some guidelines based on mythology studies. That is expanded to 370 pages).

2) For a movie fan, the mistakes are unbearable. By example: that the Jabba the Hut conflict introduced in "Star Wars", is solved by "The Empire Strikes Back". I am confident that there is no need for me to clarify here the correction.

3) The formula (sorry, "the form", as the author calls it) is not universal as he claims. Sure, it has been used thousands of times, which is why so many movies feel "formulaic" (from "formula", not "form"). There are 12 steps (or stages) described by the author. Then he tries to apply them to classic or popular movies. But this works more like dealing with Nostradamus and his prophecies: you take a "prophecy" and force it to fit to an actual event. The author does the same thing. He takes a "movie moment", and tries to make it fit with his description of one of the steps. This calls to be vague, so he can have the flexibility for making his theory fit. So Alex Foley in "Beverly Hills Cop" is stopped by his boss before leaving Detroit. That is the "First Threshold". No, sorry, in another part of the book, it is a variation of "Refusal of the Call". And the boss is a mentor. No, sorry, he is a guardian. And Eddie Murphy is the Hero, and a Trickster, hell, no, he is a Mentor to the cops in Beverly Hills. While the author tries to explain that this shows the flexibility of the norm, it is really more trying to force existing movies into his formula (ups, form!)

4)The book is not useful as a reference. Really, I am surprised by how overrated is "The Writer's Journal"
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