Are you a beginner writer ready to work on your book? Have you decided to take the plunge and begin your writing journey? If yes, I want to congratulate you and point to three books that any beginner writer may benefit from. The 3 books are The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, The Writer’s Journey, Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler and Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules Of Writing. These books are great introductions into the art of writing and storytelling and will be useful for writers of both fiction and nonfiction.
The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell compares the journeys of archetypal heroes from around the world and identifies “the monomyth”, a common mythic structure underlying all of them. The entire book, which also draws on the work of Carl Jung, is summarized in this sentence: “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” – Joseph Campbell
How this book will help you: It identifies the common signposts and turning points in a hero’s journeys and you may want to use it as a loose framework on which to base the structure of your book. It tells you what happens commonly at these points and it’s up to you to decide where your hero will adhere and where he’ll diverge from the typical hero’s journey. It’s a great reference work and a book that belongs in every writer’s personal library. Of course, you may learn about the hero’s journey and then decide that your hero is going on a completely different sort of journey. That’s totally fine but do give this book a read: it has changed the way I read a story, watch a movie, and, literally, how I experience life.
Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers Some people may find Campbell’s book a dense read and for those, I would recommend Vogler because he further clarifies and makes more accessible the hero’s journey.
How this book will help you: It grounds mythical structure firmly into contemporary times. It’s accurate to say almost anyone, and not just a writer, will benefit from reading both Campbell and Vogler. After all, what are books if not the stories of the recurring themes in our lives.
Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules Of Writing is a fun, quick read. It is a sweet, small and elegant book that reminds you that words are like icing on a cake- too much of one or other type and it can make you sick. Another keeper in your writer’s library that you may want to take out and browse now and then to remind (again, that word) you that writing is an art and words are to be used with utmost care.
Bonus recommendations: Randy Ingermanson’s Fiction for Dummies and How to write a novel using the Snowflake method; Steven Pressfield’s The Artist’s Journey: The wake of the hero’s journey and the lifelong pursuit of meaning.
Important: With all that talk of hero’s journeys, if you are wondering if the heroine’s journey is any different, please check out the book Maureen Murdock’s The Heroine’s Journey. (link is to an article about the book)