Which story expert can spot your novel’s flaw in six seconds flat?
Who can help you take your story to a whole new level?
If you’re not familiar with his Six Stage Plot Structure, check it out here.
I was lucky enough to attend Michael's workshop last weekend in Bethesda, and it was incredible. On day one, he went through each step of the hero's inner and outer journey, using popular movies (including video clips) like Shrek, Wedding Crashers, Hitch, Gladiator, and Good Will Hunting to illustrate the concepts.
The second day we spent the morning analyzing Sleepless in Seattle in depth, as well as reviewing key concepts from the day before.
In addition to the lectures, I learned a lot from his advice to others in the audience. Eight of us won the raffle to eat lunch with him where we asked general questions, and each got some one-on-one time where in thirty seconds he nailed my problem with the external story goal: no visible finish line/item that readers could imagine (e.g. a trophy, $20000, a dead terrorist, the deed to that coveted beach cottage).
The event covered a day and a half, so I could write a book on what I learned, but instead, I’ll share with you some of my favorite takeaways.
- Emotion in a story grows out of conflict, not desire.
- The arc moves the protagonist from identity to essence.
- Identity: the emotional armor we wear to protect ourselves; our facade
- Essence: who we are when you strip away all the emotional armor; our true self
- In a romance, the love interest should be the protagonist’s destiny because he/she sees beneath the protag’s identity and connects at the level of essence. (Not just chemistry or kismet.)
- When two characters are in conflict, it’s at the level of identity; when they’re connected, it’s at the level of essence. (This was a huge aha for me. I think this will really help me understand why conflict is lacking in certain scenes.)
- Instead of the protag having to make a choice as the conflict, have her try to take on both things she wants to do. The conflict can come in trying to make both endeavors work (e.g. caring for an ailing parent and running a business).
Even if you’ve listened to his CD The Hero’s Two Journeys with Christopher Vogler, I highly recommend Michael's in-person workshop. Not only will you pick up things you didn’t catch before, but having him there to answer questions is priceless. And if you haven't tried The Hero's Two Journeys, what are you waiting for? 😉
Not all educational opportunities are worth the time and money, though I've found that every workshop, craft book, or online class provides a new way of looking at something I already knew, a deeper understanding, or an outright epiphany.
Michael Hauge's workshop was worth every minute and every penny. If you get the chance, go.