Tag: heros journey (Page 1 of 2)

Ten Elements of Educational Storytelling

This post is part of a series that explores the Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely taken from my master’s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this I will lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium. We look at the basic elements of storytelling, five guiding principles and educational stories, and practical tips.

Check out the rest of the series.

This is it. We have taken a long journey through educational stories and barely scratched the surface. In the best tradition of “memory episodes” from T.V. shows we love, I wanted to walk down memory lane. Here is the entire series boiled down into ten-ish bite sized bits 🙂

1. Why Educational Stories?

Stories are part of humanity, and have been ever since, and probably before, humankind took to speech. John Niles even went as far as to call humankind Homo Narrans, storytelling man. Cultures have developed myths, legends, and works of fiction core to identity, history, and moral behavior, and the transmission of knowledge. This is not a past society phenomenon. Narrative still shapes our daily lives, be it intentional or unintentional. It seems that stories can be a great deal more than fun.

Fables are specifically useful in character education and the passing along of traditions, mores, and cultural ethics. Stories are not just effective in teaching social-oriented principles (like fables). Process-oriented principles like math, the scientific method, problem solving, and even computer programming can all benefit from storytelling.

2. A Good Story, Well told

At its heart, and educational story must be a good story. We can all relate to some cheesy special (though I bet you learned some good stuff). But, its simple: the better the story, the more attached we get, and the more powerful the opportunity to learn.

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Hero’s Journey: A Review

This post is part of a series exploring the Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell studied hundreds of world-wide myths, finding patterns to virtually any story. This basic framework gives the stories we tell a universal, timeless appeal and resonate deeply with our audiences. This series is not about a “five steps to perfect stories” method, nor does it claim a best way to tell stories.  Today, we review what we’ve talked about so far.

Check out the rest of the series and a compare different versions of the Hero’s Journey

Just like a good story, this series has reached its “midpoint,” that is twisting point where the second half is almost a different story than the first. Up until now, this Hero’s Journey series has focused on the mechanics of the journey. What are the stages? Who are the characters? What is the world? Basically, what makes up the Hero’s Journey?

We are about to jump into the how, and I’m pretty excited about it. We are going to work together through a story from beginning to end and see exactly what it takes (and how simple it is) to create a journey. Finally, we’ll talk about some practical tips (18 in all) to make the journey interesting, memorable, and personal.

But Before We Go There

Let’s review what we’ve seen so far. The most basic

At its most basic, a story has three elements: Character, Plot, and Setting. A person (not necessarily human) doing stuff in a place and time. That’s all the hero’s journey is, one way to describe that person doing that stuff in that place and time. What makes the Journey special is its seeming universiality (why can’t that be a word?)

The Hero”™s Journey is one way to weave characters, plot, and setting. It is not the only way. It may not be the best way. The magic of the Hero’s Journey arises from its primality; its universal basicness. Joseph Campbell spent his lifetime investigating myths from all around the world, distilling patterns he found from all civilizations into some common principles. Carl Jung, a prominant psychologist, built upon this these patterns by likening this journey to facets found deep in the human psyche and cultural memories.  This isn”™t some kooky metaphysical idea, it”™s basic psychology. – Series Home

To break down the journey into a sentence: “A hero is at home in the ordinary world until something happens to unbalance her reality, leaving the hero to enter the special world on a quest to set the world in balance again which can only happen by confronting the Shadow.”

Though I originally posted them in a different order, lets go through that definition of a story in a hero’s journey way.

Characters

Characters allow storytellers to explore how different people react to different situations. Even deeper than all that, though: Characters are what the audience identify with. – Major Archetypes

There are to kinds of players in a typical Hero’s Journey: Major Archetypes and Minor Archetypes. Major archetypes are those that are necessary for the journey to work. You need a hero, a mentor, a shadow, and a herald of some kind. The Hero is the main character who actually goes on the quest to set the world in balance again. Along the way, the hero grows. They have some flaw they overcome. This growth is paramount to any good story.

The Mentor is a character (or circumstance, interestingly enough) that guide the hero part of the way. Maybe they’ve been down the road before or posses some knowledge or gift the hero will need. The Shadow actively tries to stop the hero from succeeding. This shadow can be an external enemy (Darth Vader) or an internal foe (self-doubt). The Herald calls the hero off on the adventure. Many times the herald may be the mentor, or not even a character as such.

Minor Archetypes fill out your cast. They have a relationship with the hero, even if (in the story) they have to connection. These characters reflect the hero by bringing out a specific facet of the hero’s character, counterpoint the hero by showing what the hero “could be” if circumstances were different, and aid the hero, most especially in growth. Minor Archetypes lists several common character types, and there are limitless more.

Mixing and matching these basic functions into more specific characters can be a blast. Han Solo in Star Wars, for instance, is an ally, a mercenary, a ranger, and a redeemed. The more creative you get, the further from cliche you will find yourself.

Remember:

Archetypes are powerful characters because most anyone can identify with most any archetype at some point in their life. Archetypes are broad types that we all encountered in life, and (whether we like to admit it or not) have portrayed at some point. Each of us has been a Mentor. We”™ve all felt like the Hero going the road alone. We”™ve even been the Shadow trying to hinder another, though we never think of ourselves as evil. Even with minor archetypes, this is true. I”™ve been a trickster, a shape shifter, an ally and (yes) the wicked-step-mother. – Major Archetypes

Plot

Having all the greatest characters mean nothing if they don’t do stuff. The plot is the most defined part of the Hero’s Journey, and there have been a million books and articles discussing it. The point of this series is not to make that a million and one, but to simplify it a little. Let’s break the Journey down into five steps:

The Hero and the Ordinary World, Broken

In the ordinary world, all is well”¦or at least all is ordinary for our hero. This first phase of the story introduces our hero and his world, and gives our audience something to connect with the main character. Then it happens. Something causes the world to be thrown into chaos. This may be literal (plague, war, the ring of power is found) as in many epics. Or, it may be much more personal (the hero meets the girl of his dreams, a parent falls ill or dies, or the next-door neighbors begin the secret club). Whatever the event, intentional or not, the hero must step out into the special world. – Plot I

The Hero and the Quest

Now that the hero is on the road towards a goal, they meet Allies, Shadows, Tricksters, or whatever your heart desires. Just make your Hero work to get where they”™re going, and never let them get anything easily. The basic principles are 1.) Characters crave stability (or what they perceive is stability), and 2.) They will do the least amount of work possible to acheive it.

Really, the quest is wide open. Have fun. For those who want more structure, check out Writer”™s Journey and Joseph Campbell”™s original Hero”™s Journey.

The Hero and the Passion

At some point (usually around the middle of the story), the Quest becomes more than a Quest to the hero. It becomes a passion, a drive, an obsession. This is no longer, “lets save the princess so she”™ll reward us.” Now it”™s, “we have to ““ and will ““ save the princess no matter the cost.” This is the point of no return for the Hero.

Often, this turning point has something to do with the Shadow. It may also be the point the Hero starts to realize the unconscious need and becomes less focused on the conscious  want. This scene has to be powerful, because from here to the next part (which is the climax) things have to get dire for the Hero — as dire as you can make them. This passion is what will carry them through.

The Hero and the Moment

It all comes down to this. This is the climax. This is the Moment the Hero faces her worst fear, the most powerful adversary, the greatest challenge. This is almost always faced alone. This should also be the moment of change in the Hero”™s character arc. Lastly, many of the most powerful stories involve a resurrection of some kind.

The Hero and the Repercussions

Believe it or not, the character does not have to get what they want ““ but they do have to get they need, that is their growth.  Whether it is a happy, sad, or bitter-sweet ending, the Hero is no longer the same. And, they have made their way into another ordinary world. This will not be the same ordinary world they began in (though it may be similar). It will, however, be ordinary to the Hero. Things are settled now. – Plot III

World

Our characters are doing stuff, but where? The setting is just as important as the characters and plot.

In this deeply-powerful, hero-centric way of storytelling everything is connected to the main character. The plot is determined by their choices, the secondary characters are archetypes that fill psychological functions, the hero’s growth is the bones of the tale. Setting is also connected to the hero in the same way that minor archetypes are; by reflecting, counterpointing, challenging or aiding, and adding believability to the protagonist. – The Hero’s Three Worlds

The importance of a well-constructed, internally consistent world cannot be overstated. And, this isn’t just important for fantasy. Wherever you ground your story, the world is a part of it and must be completely fleshed out.

In the case of the Hero’s Journey, it can be said that there are three worlds. The ordinary world is where the hero starts out. It is in balance, she knows her place in the world, everything is ordinary (at least to her). The special world is the world of the quest. While it doesn’t have to be fantastic, it does have to be different. The remade world is the world after the climax. In balance again, but not quite the same.

All Done

Phew…that was a longer post than I like to write, but I wanted to lay out the entire journey in a snapshot because we are about to put it to the test to create three different stories running in parallel: a fantasy, a romantic comedy, and an intimate drama. Just to prove it works. Stick around!

Hero’s Journey: The Hero’s Three Worlds

This post is part of a series exploring the Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell studied hundreds of world-wide myths, finding patterns to virtually any story. This basic framework gives the stories we tell a universal, timeless appeal and resonate deeply with our audiences. This series is not about a “five steps to perfect stories” method, nor does it claim a best way to tell stories.  Today, we look at worldbuilding.

Check out the rest of the series and a compare different versions of the Hero’s Journey

At its most basic, a story has three elements: Character, Plot, and Setting. A person (not necessarily human) doing stuff in a place and time. We have already touched on plot and major and minor characters. Today, we look setting, or the Hero’s World.

The Purpose of Setting

The where and when of a story can sometimes be taken for granted. Every story happens somewhere, and (except in Fantasy/Sci-Fi) the setting is usually not terribly important. In cases where the setting is a contemporary world, it can be downright boring. And that’s fine. I’m not advocating that every setting needs to be fantastic, strange, or otherworldly. On the contrary, a relatable world can be used powerfully.

What I am advocating is setting with a purpose. In this deeply-powerful, hero-centric way of storytelling everything is connected to the main character. The plot is determined by their choices, the secondary characters are archetypes that fill psychological functions, the hero’s growth is the bones of the tale. Setting is also connected to the hero in the same way that minor archetypes are; by reflecting, counterpointing, challenging or aiding, and adding believability to the protagonist.

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Educational Storytelling: Constructing the Tale, A Hero’s Growth

This post is part of a series that explores the Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely taken from my master”™s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this I will lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium. We look at the basic elements of storytelling, five guiding principles and educational stories, and practical tips.

Check out the rest of the series.

We are using the Hero’s Journey as a skeleton for our story. If you want a full breakdown of the Hero’s Journey, check out my this series. I have boiled this down to five pieces of the Journey, each with an important task. Last time we covered the first three. Today, the last two.

  1. The Hero and the Cast of Characters
  2. The Hero and the Ordinary World, Broken
  3. The Hero and the Journey
  4. The Hero and the Moment
  5. The Hero and the Repercussions

Don’t forget our first guiding principle: Hero Audience Bonding.

We create a hero the audience can learn through, vicariously. As the hero progresses through the story, learning and problem solving, the audience will learn the same lessons “” given they have bonded with the main character.

Learning Goals

As this is an educational story, there are objectives. We want the students to learn something. It is important to define what these objectives are. They can be identity oriented learning (morals) or process oriented learning (math) goals. And, there may be several goals. Perhaps along the road to learning the dangers of lying, the hero also learns the distributive property and bits of the scientific method? Whatever the case may be, establish theme to yourself early so you can keep on focus.

The Hero and the Moment

Heroes must make a multitude of decisions along the journey in order to be a willful character. She does not necessarily have to make these decisions alone. In fact allies are some of the most important aspects of a compelling story. These allies function as mentors, moral compasses, and even shape shifting enemies at times. However, there comes a time when the hero must make the final set of decisions alone. She must stand at the last threshold, face the final antagonistic force, and accept the consequences of those decisions.

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Educational Storytelling: Constructing the Tale, A Hero’s Journey

This post is part of a series that explores the Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely taken from my master”™s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this I will lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium. We look at the basic elements of storytelling, five guiding principles and educational stories, and practical tips.

Check out the rest of the series.

Finally its here! We have discussed the value of educational storytelling, the different elements of story (plot, setting, character), and one of the guiding principles of stories that teach. Now it’s time to dig into constructing stories for education. What is the skeleton of an educational story?

We will use the Hero’s Journey as a skeleton for our story. We first looked at this journey. There is a comprehensive series elsewhere on my blog.

I am a fan of simplicity. Many Hero’s Journey outlines include 12 or 15 stages plus a dozen archetypes. I have boiled this down to five pieces of the Journey, each with an important task.

  1. The Hero and the Cast of Characters
  2. The Hero and the Ordinary World, Broken
  3. The Hero and the Journey
  4. The Hero and the Moment
  5. The Hero and the Repercussions

We will walk through the first three this week and the final two next week. As we work through this, remember our first guiding principle: Hero Audience Bonding.

We create a hero the audience can learn through, vicariously. As the hero progresses through the story, learning and problem solving, the audience will learn the same lessons “” given they have bonded with the main character.

Learning Goals

As this is an educational story, there are objectives. We want the students to learn something. It is important to define what these objectives are. They can be identity oriented learning (morals) or process oriented learning (math) goals. And, there may be several goals. Perhaps along the road to learning the dangers of lying, the hero also learns the distributive property and bits of the scientific method? Whatever the case may be, establish theme to yourself early so you can keep on focus.

The Hero and the Cast of Characters

The hero is not the only character in your story. Supporting characters, villains, mentors, even talking trees all have a place in the tale. When we went through characters, we listed several archetypes essential to the Hero’s Journey. Those character types are also relevant here, and they each play a specific role in teaching.

Each character is an archetype and  has a connection to the hero.

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Hero Audience Bonding in Educational Storytelling

This post is part of a series that explores the Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely taken from my master”™s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this I will lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium. We look at the basic elements of storytelling, five guiding principles and educational stories, and practical tips.

Check out the rest of the series.

So far, we have discussed the value of Educational Stories, and looked at the basic elements of storytelling (character, plot, and setting) and ran through an overview of our guiding principles for educational storytelling. The first is Hero Audience Bonding.

Throughout the rest of this series, we will talk about two kinds of learning: Identity/Social oriented and Process oriented. Identity oriented learning is that learning which stories have traditionally been useful: teaching morals, self-esteem, and social behavior. Process oriented learning has gotten less story-limelight. This is learning in disciplines like math and science, where the audience is capturing processes and methods for reproducing results.

Storytelling can be used for both types of learning, and we will discuss each. The cornerstone of educational storytelling is Hero Audience bonding. In short,

We create a hero the audience can learn through, vicariously.

As the hero progresses through the story, learning and problem solving, the audience will learn the same lessons — given they have bonded with the main character. So, what makes a hero “bondable?” Identification, empathy, complexity, and a want, a wound, and a need.

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Hero’s Journey: (Nine) Minor Archetypes

This post is part of a series exploring the Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell studied hundreds of world-wide myths, finding patterns to virtually any story. This basic framework gives the stories we tell a universal, timeless appeal and resonate deeply with our audiences. This series is not about a “five steps to perfect stories” method, nor does it claim a best way to tell stories.  Today, we chat about minor archetypes.

Check out the rest of the series and a compare different versions of the Hero’s Journey

At its most basic, a story has three elements: Character, Plot, and Setting. A person (not necessarily human) doing stuff in a place and timeCharacters are what the audience identify with.

We have already touched on plot and discussed major archetypes. Today, we look at other character types.

The Hero With a Thousand Faces

Joseph Campbell titled his work on the Hero’s Journey “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” to show how the same basic hero exists in so many myths and legends. I am going to (boldfaced) steal the phrase, but turn it around to illustrate something else: The hero of a story wears a thousand masks, has a thousand personalities, and lives a thousand lives. People are complex; your main character must be complex too.

We know this. You hear constantly about three-dimensional characters. Let’s take this a step further and say that the secondary characters should also add to your main character. Nothing is by accident; all characters should contrast or attract attention to or counterpoint or enhance the hero and story in some way. In our Hero’s Journey, this is where Minor Archetypes come in. These are timeless types of characters that rise above cultural boundaries and resonate with human psyches.

As we said in “Major Archetypes,”

Archetypes are powerful characters because most anyone can identify with most any archetype at some point in their life. Archetypes are broad types that we all encountered in life, and (whether we like to admit it or not) have portrayed at some point. Each of us has been a Mentor. We”™ve all felt like the Hero going the road alone. We”™ve even been the Shadow trying to hinder another, though we never think of ourselves as evil. Even with minor archetypes, this is true. I”™ve been a trickster, a shape shifter, an ally and (yes) the wicked-step-mother.

In this way, archetypes are psychological functions. They are templates, not rigid, expressions of character.

I will elaborate on how to flesh out archetypes in a story in another post, “Keys to Using Archetypes” in two weeks. For now, it is enough to say that these secondary characters:

  • Reflect the hero by bringing out a specific facet of the hero’s character. Such as a child that shows the hero’s protective nature.
  • Counterpoint the hero by showing what the hero “could be” if circumstances were different. Also useful for playing with themes.
  • Aid the hero, most especially in growth.

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Hero’s Journey: Major Archetypes

This post is part of a series exploring the Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell studied hundreds of world-wide myths, finding patterns to virtually any story. This basic framework gives the stories we tell a universal, timeless appeal and resonate deeply with our audiences. This series is not about a “five steps to perfect stories” method, nor does it claim a best way to tell stories.  Today, we chat about major archetypes.

Check out the rest of the series and a compare different versions of the Hero’s Journey

At its most basic, a story has three elements: Character, Plot, and Setting. A person (not necessarily human) doing stuff in a place and time. We have already touched on plot. Today, we begin tackling character.

Characters Along the Road

So, why are characters so important? Simply, we need characters to do the stuff in the story. They are as necessary to stories as hydrogen is to water. But what else? Characters allow storytellers to explore how different people react to different situations. Even deeper than all that, though: Characters are what the audience identify with.

Archetypes are powerful characters because most anyone can identify with most any archetype at some point in their life. Archetypes are broad types that we all encountered in life, and (whether we like to admit it or not) have portrayed at some point. Each of us has been a Mentor. We”™ve all felt like the Hero going the road alone. We”™ve even been the Shadow trying to hinder another, though we never think of ourselves as evil. Even with minor archetypes, this is true. I”™ve been a trickster, a shape shifter, an ally and (yes) the wicked-step-mother.

In this way, archetypes are psychological functions. They are templates, not rigid, expressions of character.

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Hero’s Journey: Slaying the Dragon with Climax

This post is part of a series exploring the Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell studied hundreds of world-wide myths, finding patterns to virtually any story. This basic framework gives the stories we tell a universal, timeless appeal and resonate deeply with our audiences. This series is not about a “five steps to perfect stories” method, nor does it claim a best way to tell stories.  Today, we continue with plot.

Check out the rest of the series and a compare different versions of the Hero’s Journey

The Journey Ends

In the last installment of this series, I talked about the plot or journey of the Hero’s Journey broken into  five steps:

  1. The Hero and the Ordinary World, Broken
  2. The Hero and the Quest
  3. The Hero and the Passion
  4. The Hero and the Moment
  5. The Hero and the Repercussions

We talked about the first three. Now, we turn to the climax of our story and discuss some final notes about plot.

The Hero and the Moment

It all comes down to this. This is the climax. This is the Moment the Hero faces her worst fear, the most powerful adversary, the greatest challenge. This is almost always faced alone. This almost always connects to the unconscious desire more than the conscious want. This moment is made even more powerful by the Passion, because that is what drives her here. This should also be the moment of change in the Hero”™s character arc. Lastly, many of the most powerful stories involve a resurrection of some kind. We will discuss this in detail in a later installment.

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Hero’s Journey: One (Plot) Step At A Time

This post is part of a series exploring the Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell studied hundreds of world-wide myths, finding patterns to virtually any story. This basic framework gives the stories we tell a universal, timeless appeal and resonate deeply with our audiences. This series is not about a “five steps to perfect stories” method, nor does it claim a best way to tell stories.  Today, we continue with plot.

Check out the rest of the series and a compare different versions of the Hero’s Journey

The Journey Continues

In the last installment of this series, I talked about the plot or journey of the Hero’s Journey broken into  five steps:

  1. The Hero and the Ordinary World, Broken
  2. The Hero and the Quest
  3. The Hero and the Passion
  4. The Hero and the Moment
  5. The Hero and the Repercussions

We talked about the first three, but only in general terms. Today, we will look at specific plot elements from the Hero’s Journey as they move from the call to adventure (The Ordinary World, Broken) to the Climax (The Hero and the Moment). This is about all those steps that can be in the Hero’s Quest from the moment they leave their front door to the moment of decision at the climax.

Please note: a lot of these elements can be moved, changed, and even dropped. Some stories may be better sticking to a strict Hero’s Journey (like Tolkinien Fantasy), while others may want some more leeway (like Romantic Comedy). In any case, these elements will create a sense of timelessness for any story.

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