Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Journey is key...

J – Journey

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Ursula K. LeGuin.
I chose the word journey for this post but I was unsure whether I was going to refer to the personal journey that I have made since started putting my thoughts down on paper, or whether I was going to refer to the journey that my characters undertake in my thriller writing. On reflection, I will save the personal stuff for another time.
The idea of a journey is one that is familiar to all writers of fiction, in that the main character always has some kind of journey, even if it is purely in the mind. Characters undergo change of some kind from beginning to end of a story otherwise it is a more of an essay or anecdote.
But then, I think if a character has an actual journey – possibly one they didn’t really want to undertake in the first place - then that adds tension and  suspense in the way of a ‘will they, won’t they’ get to journey’s ( reach their goal) end? I suppose you could say the whole thrust of a good story is a journey from the opening sentences to the final last words. And in that respect, the final words need to leave the reader feeling satisfied that the journey was worth it and the character got there in the end!
A good writing book that details much of the way that fiction is traditionally done is “The Key” by James N frey. When I read this book all became much clearer for me, in terms of using mythological motifs that we all recognise, but probably never thought that much about. In this book Frey talks about myth –based fiction and one of the things that happens in the beginning of all these kinds of stories is the hero is called to his journey.  This is just the beginning of a universal plot structure that works for almost every story since Homer. And it applies – in modern terms – to almost all my own writing.
So, do you use the power of myth in your writing? And do your characters go on journeys?


  1. I haven't read Frey's book, but my characters do go through journeys.

  2. Yes, they do! By the end, they've learned something and changed for the better.