Welcome to the Oval Productions newsletter, brought to you by me, Ashley Evenson, the mastermind behind Oval. For anyone new to my spherical world, here is what you need to know. I am Ashley, and I am obsessed with story and storytelling. I love storytelling in all different mediums and it is my life's mission, to not only tell stories, but to fall in love, and spread incredible stories around the world. My goal is to not only become the best storyteller I can be, but also to help each human I meet become the best storyteller they can be!
If you want to know more, about me - hit up My Story
Format I am Loving
Some of the best stories reign excellence because of the way they are told. I love unpacking how stories show up in the world. If you are also obsessed with Story and Format, there is a great newsletter called Formats Unpacked by StoryThings. I have spent a long time looking at The Hero's Journey. The Hero's Journey has been used by multiple people, franchises, writers, humans, philosophers since Ancient Greece. I believe Aristotle was one of the first to introduce the world of the Hero's Journey. But since then loads of people have played with it, made it really complicated. There are MFAs currently devoted to the Hero's Journey and how it shows up in film, books, serial streaming (formerly TV), radio and other forms of broadcast.
This month, I want to keep things simple. I love the Hero's Journey, but more than that, I love to keep something simple. I have spent year's delivering workshops on the Hero's Journey, and so, far the best and simplest format I have found has been constructed by Matt Hoverman, and introduced to me by Christine Renee Miller of go-solo. (By the way if you are looking to craft a one person show, their classes are outstanding!)
The Hero's Journey
The simplified version of the Hero's Journey as was taught to me starts like this:
The definition of a hero. What makes someone a hero?
They want something. That's it. ( Like I said- simple.)
How many of us can relate to that? I have wanted after many things in my life, some of them I have achieved or gained, others I feel like I will spend my life chasing. And I know I am not the only one.
But what is it that they want? In order for them to want something, they have to have some sort of problem. Problems can be defined into two categories.
External Problems: Want more money, want the most beautiful lover, want the new car...
I love an external problem. And having external problems, can be more simplified so, sometimes this is the way to go. But what makes an external problem really ripe and juicy is, if you can pinpoint it and then layer the second kind of problem underneath it.
The second problem being:
Internal Problems: Want power, want to be loved, want to feel needed and purposeful, want to prove themselves to someone, or to themselves. Basically an internal problem often seeks to answer the quandary, of - 'Am I Enough? and if I am Not, what will make me enough?'
I hate to get all mushy gushy on my first blog post, but one of the key ingredients to this, is that people are often in search of love. This does not have to be romantic love, nor does it have to be sexual in any way... It is the basic kind of love that answers the question, of ' Am I enough?'
The next stage in the hero's journey is conflict or tension.
Tension: In order for your story to be interesting, and get people excited about what is happening, they must feel some kind of tension. How does this happen?
So far up to this point we have a hero, who is trying to solve a problem. And in order to do so, they have to be proactive. It is much more difficult for people to get up and go after their wants and needs, but we, as an audience love that. How often have you sat and listened to someone moan and complain about how bad things are, to the point where you just want to scream at them- 'Then go do something about it! If it bothers you that much, then take action!'
We feel the same way about our characters, we cannot get behind someone who is so passive. it just riles us up, or bores us, we want to see people taking action!
Once characters take action, this is where the fun begins. The is where the tension builds.
In order to introduce tension, this is where obstacles come in. Aaron Sorkin talks a lot about this for anyone who has taken his Masterclass on TV writing. Give characters an obstacle. Once you know what their goal is, start putting obstacles in their way, that they have to overcome, or work around. In doing this, it makes for more engaging content, but also, it gives you, as a creator to find creative ways to strategise.
Face to Face Conflict: At some point, there needs to be some kind of climax. All those little obstacles that are introduced and overcome, or delayed, this all needs to be building up to something. And it should be a moment of pinnacle tension. Maybe that is the hero coming face to face with the external problems (a villain- external problems), or even worse (internal problems). Fighting through something, that they have to face their fear in some way.
Get What They Want: After all this, all the conflict, the tension, the climax. We need to put that thing the character wanted in the very beginning. They need to have that item, or achievement right in front of them. Once they have it, it could be, what always wanted and we can conclude the story. However, in a lot of Hero's stories, they find that because of all they have gone through (overcoming those obstacles), they are the not the same person they were at the beginning of all of this. In fact, the thing they initially wanted, might not be the thing they need.
And once they have this realisation, what they wanted has served its purpose, but they no longer want it, and in that moment, it is time to give them what they need.
For my own personal benefit, I have been working on the Hero's journey for a number of years. I love doing this format in Story Workshops, I love watching people come to the conclusion of what is it that they need? I love seeing them reflect on their life's journey, and see those moments they wanted something, and go through the process of what they did to achieve it. If you are interested in anything story ( give me a shout) - I love talking story to anyone, anywhere.
My Own Hero's Journey
This is my attempt of using the Hero's Journey in Personal Narrative. I will use my life as an example.
Hero: Sixteen Year Old Me
Want: To Be Sexy
Obstacles: Church Youth Leader, Bible Study Leader,
Tension: Convincing friends to think of me as sexy
Climax: After finding men on the highway and being brought back to their party, things got enlightening
Conclusion: A Sexual Awakening
To listen to me tell this story, here is a recording (Warning, Adult content)
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