Beginning life as a seven-page memo to Hollywood studios, The Writer's Journey
was first published in 1992 as a guide for screenwriters concerned with classically organic structure and development within their work, based on the ideas of the mythologist Joseph Campbell. Unsurprisingly it was voraciously devoured, so much so that this is a second revised and expanded edition which also considers recent blockbusters such as Titanic
, Pulp Fiction
, The Lion King
and The Full Monty
in relation to its theories. The book is essentially a distillation of Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces
, in which the author considers myth and storytelling as a definable framework that renders a narrative instructive and psychologically true. Vogler, applying this idea, and with frequent recourse to Carl Jung, has developed a 12-stage cycle which he believes is inherent in all good drama if manipulated to fit the writer's intent. And, for the most part, he is correct.
Using auteurs such as Hitchcock and Spielberg and classic films, notably The Wizard of Oz and the Star Wars trilogy, Vogler demonstrates how much mainstream Hollywood has absorbed the tenets of mythic structure into its thinking. As with most "this will change your life" proclamations, when his ideas are themselves distilled they come down to a fundamental few, which are nuggets of wisdom. The main body of the book is written as a step-by-step guide to the "hero's journey" in accessibly short paragraphs, each chapter concluding with a series of questions for the reader to consider about their own work. If your ambition lies beyond becoming the next George Lucas then this book may have its limits, but in making conscious the intuitive structure of storytelling Vogler has come up with a valuable text for those moments of structural panic and characterisational chaos that cause all writers' fingers to ttttremble. --David Vincent