There are two reasons: this non-fiction book is about telling the hero’s journey. Does that sound quaint and archaic? Well, it is. Doesn’t mean it’s bad - the wheel is old, too, and still round and works fine.
You know about Odysseus, right? You see, the ancient Greeks knew how to tell a story, and the modern Greeks do as well; otherwise, they couldn’t have joined the European Union and driven their country’s finances into the ground like they did. They are indeed experts in telling stories.
The hero’s journey has been a time-honored tradition throughout the ages. I will just leap ahead 2,000 years and mention Harry Potter, Star Wars or Rambo. All of them are about the hero’s journey. That’s enough name-dropping already.
I swore one thing with Heroes: I would not assume that you know the entire catalog of literature of the last 100 years, or that you’d be willing to check them out at the local library to understand what I am talking about. Don’t get me wrong, reading helps your writing, but at this point it is about finding the right approach.
I personally hate non-fiction books in which the connection is not revealed by the text itself but only with the knowledge of fifty other novels. That’s intellectual posing to me.
I remember very well how I tried to find a suitable non-fiction book about writing at the age of sixteen. Admittedly, that was quite a few days ago. The way the booksellers furrowed their brows has remained in my mind to this day; although, their bookshops have been closed for years. Sad story.
In the middle of one summer when I was sixteen, I bought with my hard-earned cash a very expensive non-fiction guidebook about writing. It was written for grown-ups. Stupid me. My own fault, I know. So I had to struggle through this elaborate academic stuff. It was university material by a professor who had never published a novel himself and who—carefully said—swam in the field of non-fiction books.
But he somehow knew in detail what 100 other authors in the last 100 years had thought and meant. Reading his convoluted sentences was no fun at all—not for me, the reader, or for him, the author, I would think. It wasn’t conducive at all to my own writings at that time. I could have had it easier. And I hope you will have it easier: with Heroes.
What I found during my preparation of this book in a German magazine on the question: “Who is a hero?”:
The results may or may not surprise you. Madonna and Harry Potter were named by the same percentage of people. Only 1 percent more mentioned: the former President of the United States of America, George W. Bush. One place above was Boris Becker, a German tennis player turned poker player.
That was when I thought there was probably something wrong with our image of a hero, and so I had one more reason to write Heroes.
As I already mentioned, the structure of a hero’s journey is represented in action-driven stories like the Harry Potter series, The Silence of the Lambs, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Blade Runner. But could it be said that all of them have the same structure?
Yes, they do. And you will know this structure if you read this book to the end, and you will recognize it in every good story. Okay, in most good stories. By the way, did you pick up on something regarding those book titles? That’s right. All of those novels hit the silver screen. Blade Runner is even just a short story by author Philip K. Dick.
So, if you can imagine yourself going into the movie business one day, this book is right for you, too—because the importance of the hero’s journey is even bigger in movies than in novels. And I boldly predict there will be more and more games in the future featuring that very journey of the hero.
There is a double payoff for you to keep reading. It also isn’t too bad to learn how to write stories with movie-potential. There are definitely worse things to do. I’m not saying there is no other way of telling stories than by a hero’s journey!
If you are more interested in action-driven stories, then the structure of a hero’s journey is your best bet. It’s at least a good choice. And it’s what I will introduce you to in these articles.
Single aspects could differ in other guidebooks about the hero’s journey. That’s not a problem. This is my approach, my hero’s journey. And maybe yours.