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I decided that because of commitments I'm trying to keep to myself, instead of reading through all my chapters and picking out the hooks I like best, I'm putting all my eggs in one basket and just participating with the first sentence of my book for my only hook (ha! rhyme).
The day before I died, Charlie and I danced to B.B. King.
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Before we get started on today's archetypal awareness, I have had people tell me that these don't appeal to them because they don't write fantasy or science fiction. While not every single archetype is present in every single story, I really would like to convey the idea that these are in more stories than we think. To make this easier, I will try to help with more contemporary and non-fantastical examples as well.
We have covered the hero and the threshold crossing so far, so it only seems fitting to discuss what happens after the hero crosses the threshold. The quest. This is something that can be issued or assumed. Elizabeth Bennett wants to find love, but her quest is to find it on her conditions. Jo March wants to find a path all her own and ends up discovering love became a greater desire than she thought. Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker are kind of both - they want to go to Hogwarts or to train to be a Jedi, but once they get there, their focus changes - Harry wants to find out about the Sorceror's Stone and Luke wants to save the princess (just going with the first one here).
Even think about one of my favorite movies, An American President. Initally, President Andrew Shepherd wants to pass this bill and that bill and win the re-election, but along the way, his focus changes, priorities shift and his quest changes. And interestingly enough, for all the characters listed, the more difficult the circumstances that surround them, the more convinced they become that what they are doing is right. Elizabeth turns down a few proposals, so does Jo (and then sees her sister accept what she couldn't), Andrew is subjected of media battering, Harry almost dies (how many times Cassie?), Luke finds out that everything he knew about life wasn't. Sure, they have moments of wavering when they have been pushed to what they believe is their limit, but they keep going (external motivators who help with this will be coming in future posts).
And here's the great part about a quest - it generally doesn't end up being what the quester thinks it will be. Sometimes, when we think about a character arc, we get so focused on getting them to the end that the character can fall flat. Considering the elements of a quest, especially that it isn't what the character thought it would be, can add the roundness that our characters need, give them the relate-ability that is essential. The quest also helps with the setting. I really think this is one of the most essential archetypes for writer's to know.
Can you think of a character who starts on what they think is their quest, only to find it isn't? Have you considered this element in your current work?