April 11th to 13th was the time for sun, sand, and Christopher Vogler. He was the instructor for the spring convention of the Oregon Writers Colony at the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon. Depending on your point of view, he is a visionary who has brought Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey to inspire writers and directors everywhere, or he is the man who ruined Hollywood and can be blamed for every bad movie. I'm in the former camp, and find great value in his models, but they shouldn't be taken as cookbook recipes.
I had read his book, The Writer's Journey, years ago. In fact I used it when I designed a role playing adventure that won first prize in an international contest put on by Green Ronin. I used it when working on my first novel. But let's face it, I didn't know much about writing back then, so a refresher would be useful. I had been recommending this book to Alison, who is great on characters and setting, but was looking for direction on plot structure. So off we went.
We tried to find our copy on the way out, but no. Chaos can be good, as we got the third edition, and it's full of cool new models for writing. Catharsis (which means vomiting!), polarity, and more. Friday evening, Christopher and Alice, his wife, displayed the good taste to sit at our dinner table. Then he gave a talk about his new Manga, Ravenskull. Long into the night about a dozen of us critiqued each other's work up in the library. LONG into the night. Hearing people's stories was a great way to get to know them.
Saturday Chris (first name basis now ;) lectured at the Newport Performing Arts Center. All of us from the Sylvia Beach Hotel walked over and were joined by a few dozen people who where there just for the day. He did his 12 steps of the Hero's Journey and his story archetypes. That night more critiquing, even longer into the night. I got to read the first scene from "Self Love," a short story I'm working on.
Sunday he spoke about his new ideas, some of which are in the third edition, and told us about his journey to getting published. The guy who published him is the guy who made Hardware Wars, one of my favorite shorts.
It was hard to leave, I met so many wonderful people. I typically critique with science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers, and it is good to just work with people doing all sorts of work. Non-fiction, mystery, children's literature, and more.
Then we drove home the long way, and stomach declared war on me on those twisty roads over the coastal range. Catharsis eluded me, which may be for the best.
More Pictures of Alison & me in Newport.