Hi everyone! Summer and the end of the school year (for the kids) is fast approaching and with it a sudden burst of activity that has worked hard to keep me busy doing anything but writing – but somehow I still squeezed it in. Well, not somehow, the new phone “mobile work desk” idea has panned out for the most part and I’ve been able to read, write and manage platform while traveling around to track meets, softball games, grocery shopping, even working in the yard – all pretty cool stuff.
Today, I’ve got a review of the Vogler & McKenna book “Memo” – right on time to meet my goal, followed by my update. Enjoy!
Review of “Memo From The Story Dept.” by Christopher Vogler & David McKenna
I’d heard good and bad about this book before buying it, but then that could be said of almost every craft book on my shelf. No system or idea will work for everyone. I think those that one-starred this book were missing out on some exceptional advice.
First, Memo stands out as an excellent addition to The Writer’s Journey, expanding on much of the advice given in Vogler’s solo tome of writerly knowledge. Where TWJ gives the keys to unleashing the power of myth for an emotionally strong and compelling story, Memo provides the keys to focusing that power into laser sharpness. Light, by itself isn’t all that powerful, but focus it into a tight beam and it can cut through practically anything.
This is what Memo provides.
Vogler’s chapters focus on theme, audience expectations and how to give them the best “show”. Expansion of the Writer’s Journey stages and archetypes. And a wonderful overview of Propp’s fairy tale system to help unlock all the potential that is waiting out there for a writer willing to do a tiny bit of research for a high return on investment. This adds up to pretty much everything needed to turn the “monomyth” into an instrument of well-structured and well-designed story.
But – then add in McKenna’s chapters, which, in my opinion, are pure gold layered richly over the solid gold of Vogler’s information. McKenna delves into the power of Polar Opposition. Watch any Disney flick and you’ll see this principle in action between the Hero and Villain – they both want the same thing, but they both want it for opposing reasons and follow morally divided paths to attain it.
McKenna’s chapters also bring the Six Environmental Factors and the massive engine of story creation and strengthening that they provide. When, exactly, is your story happening and how does that affect the tone and mood and properties of the story? Where, exactly, is all of this occurring at? What is the social dynamic of the world? An example of this one screams through the pages of Hunger Games, the plot engine is all about the social dynamic of that world which causes the “games” to be a reality. What is the religious – political – economic environment and how does it affect your story world? McKenna goes into detail on each of these points with tips to extract the power of your story from the very environment that you place it in. Great stuff, and by itself worth the purchase of the book.
If you’ve read Vogler’s Writer’s Journey, then this book is definitely one you’ll want to add next to it on your writing shelf. If you haven’t read Writer’s Journey – then I recommend BOTH books to you. I’ve learned a great deal from both books and apply the various principles contained in them nearly every day I plan, plot or write.
And now, on to the update…
-Write 7k of fiction per week. I’m not sure of my exact number but pretty sure I made it – just have to sync my phone and shuffle the material from there into Scrivener. Still pushing forward on this although there is a tweak in the making that I’ll discuss in a future update.
-Read and review 4 books by May 20. The above is the fourth of these and this goal is completed, right on time. I will be renewing this goal, however, between now and June 8th I have a ton of end of school events, graduations, etc., so I’m going to wait until after that to decide on the “official new books”. Currently, I read Holly Lisle’s Professional Plot Outline clinic and am partway through her book “Mugging Your Muse” (which is excellent). I have both of these as PDF’s on my phone and have to say I love the fact that I can read anywhere without having to carry extra items – like a physical book. Okay, so I’m fairly new to the joys of e-reading, but yeah, I’m loving it.
-Visit at least 15 ROWer’s each week. Yep, sixteen last week. Looking forward to stopping by many of your sites today. Remember to get out and support your fellow ROWers. An encouraging word. A virtual hand of compassion. Or maybe a gentle kick in the butt are all appreciated and part of what makes ROW such a wonderful endeavor for all of us.