While struggling to make my protagonist believable and to strengthen my plot, I often find myself going back to books I purchased long ago. One book on my go-to list is Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey – Mythic Structure for Writers. Going back to reread chapters can get you through your stalled out periods.
I was introduced to this book several years ago by someone in a writers’ group – best recommendation ever. Understanding the archetypes, either as additional characters in your story or as different aspects of the main character, helps you create a multi-dimensional protagonist, or hero, as identified in this book. I choose the dimensions I feel will best highlight my character’s personality and how he or she deals with, and grows as a result of, conflict.
The diagrams are a nice quick reference – AFTER you have read the appropriate chapters. I use them to spot check my progress in my plot and to make sure I’ve hit the highlights of the character growth arc.
Don’t get me wrong, this book doesn’t provide a shortcut or blueprint for writing, although some people may think so. The author’s epilogue (I own the 2nd edition) stresses that very strongly. Vogler states, “The needs of the story dictate its structure.”
He encourages the writer to NOT to follow the guidelines in the book too rigidly. “The joy of a journey is not reading or following a map, but exploring unknown places and wandering off the map now and then.”
If you have a strong storyline and you absolutely know who your protagonist is, go for it. Have faith in yourself and enjoy the discovery!