Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Burning Question

Neroli asks: If we think of a novel in terms of THE HERO’S JOURNEY [ by Christopher Vogler] how long/short should my “ordinary world” setup be? How quickly can the heroine/hero get into the “special world”?


Michele said...

My current story (a Nocturne) starts in the special world, and will never return to the ordinary world, though I use flashbacks and introspection to show the what the hero once saw as ordinary.


Helen Brenna said...

While I've read Chris Vogler's book, albeit a long time ago, I'm not an analytical writer. Which is odd. You'd think having been a CPA in a previous life would put me in the analytic camp. So I hope I understand the question. If not, send me a cyber whack.

Anyway, I think the answer depends a great deal on the book and to some degree a writer's own style. Some writers spend more time with setting and details. Towns can even become characters.

That said, my friends who ARE analytical, tell me the set up should generally be the first quarter to one third of a manuscript, give or take.

Does that make sense? Or am I'm not remembering my Vogler?

Kathleen Eagle said...

The opening of the story often establishes the ordinary world, or the way things are, no matter what kind of story it is. Good example-Gabaldon's first time-travel "The Outsider" establises who the heroine is, when and where she lives and what ties she has in the ordinary world. This only takes a few pages. Then she's sucked back in time.

But even a story that doesn't deal in fantasy or paranormal takes the reader into a different world, so often you want to start with a scene the reader recognizes as a familiar setting and situation. My story "The Night Remembers" originally started in the hero's world, which is dark, underground. Editor suggested that I start with a brief scene with the heroine, who is in a new place, but it's a familiar world--park bench in Minneapolis rather than an underground den. This scene is probably 5 pages or so. Then you meet my strange hero.