Lessons to Practice #11: Plotting a Hero’s Journey (Part 2 of 2)

I have a super awesome announcement tonight: this past Monday, at around 11:41 AM, I completed my first draft of book 1 in my trilogy, The Virility Project!

This is by far my largest and most thematically complex work of fiction to date, and one whose idea I first conceived waaay back in early 2009. After a couple of hiatus (hiati?) due to grad school, I finally jumped back on this trilogy in February of last year. I also utilized both of Paula Munier’s books on writing in completing this first draft, making sure to write out each character’s bio and create a comprehensive outline for each story. I’m super pleased with the results, and I hope to share snippets from book 1 with you all by this weekend!

Tonight’s Lesson to Practice…

Last week I started delving into the Hero’s Journey, one of two more modern approaches to the quintessential three-act structure we all know. The reason I’m focusing on the Plot Points and Hero’s Journey approach is because they are both handy guides for spinning your own refreshing take on the three-act paradigm. I also see these two models as a way to subvert my own — and my reader’s — expectations, adding more layers and surprises to the overall story while making my characters and set pieces “pop.”

Colorful Chairs

A good Hero’s Journey has multiple unique plot points and intriguing themes

As you, kind reader, may remember from last week, I decided to apply the Hero’s Journey to my latest work, The Virility Project. Here is the second half of that outline.

The Hero’s Journey (continued…)

The Virility Project

  1. Act Two (Middle)
    • The Plunge: Casimir joins Zachariah in raising the alarm at the Virility Center after they stumble across the surgery floor, where trainees set to graduate are creased. Both Cas and Zach dodge the traitorous Primal Guards before alerting their friends to the Operantis’ secret ploy. The two then help several dozen of their peers get to the surface of the Virility Center and escape unharmed shortly before daybreak.
    • The Payoff: Casimir and Zach chase down First Primal Odorico Siactori and gun down several of his guards during a high-speed pursuit on the highway. Cas is gravely injured, and it is Zach who shuttles him deep into the Allegheny forest in order to lose their tails. Cas and Zach are rescued by a former Operantis scientist named Aaron Strauss, who brings the two young men back to his secluded cabin, where he has been further pursuing his research on a reparative moss for Amerian soldiers. Strauss is able to use his lichen moss and Transfusion Chamber to give Casimir a blood transfusion and sew up his abdominal gash. After a day of recovery, Casimir receives notes on the Providence Scrolls and the creasing ritual from Dr. Strauss, who acquired them before he was fired from his job at the Spire. Casimir now more fully understands Noble Primal Giordano Jurist’s plan to use the creasing ritual and final Providence Scroll in order to unite all people of Eeia under one ecumenical religion.
    • World Religions
  2. Act Three (End)
    1. The Way Through: Now armed with the knowledge of Noble Primal Jurist’s goal, Casimir consults with Zach and Aaron. Cas opens up about his own creasing experience as a child, as well as how his PTSD has gripped him for the past several months since the Purcell shooting. Now that they know that someone has started tracking the GPS beacon in the ruined Primal Guard car that they pursued First Primal Siactori in, Cas and Zach prepare an ambush for later that night with Aaron’s help. Both Casimir and Zach prepare to defend Aaron’s cabin and load their nanoweapons with live rounds, some of which Dr. Strauss is able to provide.
    2. The True Test: Casimir confronts Zach about his true reasons for joining the Virility Project. Zach admits that he hates his father and wants to kill him. Casimir draws upon his months of training, personal counseling with First Primal Ledra, and experience as a mentor in order to accept and validate Zach’s hatred for his father – as well as his own self-loathing for becoming a part of the Virility Project in the first place. Casimir is able to forgive himself for shooting Rustin, and can now focus solely on bringing the rogue Primal Guards and members of Operantis to justice.
    3. The Return to the New Normal: With his heart set on stopping Noble Primal Giordano Jurist and avenging the Virility Project recruits, Casimir joins Zach and Aaron as they hunker down to prepare for the incoming assault. They are surprised to see that the incoming forces are not Primal Guards, but rather Lieutenant Marcus Hays and their friends, Darren, Cody, and Emma. They share a tearful and moving reunion before Lieutenant Hays explains how his SWAT forces are currently in pursuit of Alder and Myra, who have abducted Casimir’s parents. Casimir is reassured by his friends’ gestures of gratitude for his and Zach’s wellbeing and finds solace in his girlfriend Emma’s pledge to remain by his side – not just as he seeks retribution against the Operantis, but also as he continues to battle with his PTSD. Casimir and Zach join the convoy before they head back to Crossing, which is now up in arms as the citizens begin to protest the Operantis and demand answers. Casimir’s resolve is set: he will rescue his parents, kill Alder and Myra, and stop Noble Primal Jurist’s indoctrination once and for all.

I am falling more and more in love with the Hero’s Journey approach. However, I also find a lot of merit in the Plot Points model as well. This model in particular will come in handy as I further flesh out all major events in my trilogy. Keeping plot points in order is hard enough as it is! But with the tools that Paula Munier has provided me, I’m confident that tackling this epic endeavor will continue to be both fun and rewarding.

How is your own writing coming along? Do you feel like you have a better understanding of these two approaches? Might you incorporate them now or sometime in the near future? Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions 🙂


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