Culture can often be reflected in the stories we tell, the heroes we create and the situations we put them through. If that is the case, I have come to feel that in the stories told within the Hollywood system hit the same beats with such consistency they warp our view of stories as a while because these are the stories we are exposed to the most.
When you look to the Hero’s Journey was a book by Joseph Campbell which put into words the form countless stories have taken since human’s could first think and tell stories. It dove into the specifics of how the hero’s story would flow from beginning to end and articulated in such a way that almost anyone can recognize the form.
This is because these types of stories have always existed since humanity was telling stories around the fire in the hunter gatherer age you find the same beats over and over. They act as the guiding principles of storytelling from the introduction to the character and who they are to the point when their world is flipped upside down so they can go on a journey. From there the stakes escalate, problems and mistakes occur until our hero realizes what he has to do to overcome his faults right as we reach the crescendo of the final conflict. The clash occurs and the story is resolved.
In the original Star Wars trilogy, where Darth Vader who was the original opponent is Luke’s father, the intimacy of the opponent adds emotional gravity to the story. This makes perfect sense when you take it in isolation but outside of that how often have you seen an opponent be the brother, sister, father, best friend or someone close to the hero.
The intimacy happens so often and with such regularity that when I see it today the world, they inhabit seems so small. It’s as if there are only a handful of people who matter and everyone else is just there for show. It happens so often that it can take you out of the story. Is doing this really being true to the story the author is telling or is it just an easy way to have that intimacy within the conflict without the writer having to work for it because if the antagonist and protagonist have that kind of relationship we the audience will immediately feel the stakes raised and emphasize with them even more.
I worry about my world feeling generic, that it will feel like an empty soulless building, which has all its floors but hasn’t been lived in yet. I have the rules that govern how people travel the world but I’ve been apprehensive about putting people into it and telling stories within it because I can tell almost any kind of story.
I care too much about the world, I have put so much time into it that I fear I will tell the wrong story, or not have the skill to do what I want to do and it stops me from doing anything with what I already have. I don’t know what to do to get unstuck from where I am. All I know is that I have to begin to go deep into the depths of the building and give the world character and style but not through writing about what the world looks like but through the stories within the world I will tell. That is the only way I have to go forward today and every day if I want to make this who I am and what I am about.