It was embarrassing. On Monday I’m scheduled to give a talk about the hero’s journey. It’s my favorite subject, and I find the idea helpful for my own writing.
On the previous Wednesday we had a meeting of our critique group, the Rainwriters. We’re a no-nonsense bunch, we don’t chat, but get right to work. When it came time to report on the romance novel I’m writing, someone pointed out that, of course, my hero was on a romantic quest, a hero’s journey of the first order.
“But Ed,” my colleague said, “doesn’t the hero’s journey call for the hero to refuse the call at first?”
Right away, I knew he was right. I had not followed my own rules. The hero of my story had fallen for a woman without any forethought. My chapter had failed to include step three of the hero’s journey, the hero refuses the call.
My heroes are always doing that – they jump right into a challenge, with no forethought. I guess they’re like me in that regard.
In one way, it’s okay. This is how I get to know my characters – by shoving them into action and seeing what they do. That’s fine for a first draft, but it certainly didn’t belong in a submission to the Rainwriters. And it certainly shouldn’t have come from the man who teaches all about the hero’s journey.
Why is it that we can’t see our own faults? Many times I take a chapter to the Rainwriters and I think it’s damn near perfect. But the group often finds a hole in the chapter that you could back a semi through.
And, of course, the irony increased. That night I watched a movie and what did the hero do? He refused the call at the beginning.
How about you? Does this happen to you? You know the rules, but somehow in your own writing you forget them.