Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Journey of a Lifetime!

Hi everyone
In case you thought I'd fallen off the ends of the earth (or something) This is my first post of 2013!
Happily - for me that is - I have been away on a terrific holiday since Christmas. A once in a lifetime kind of thing with a stay in the beautiful Caribbean and a cruise around some of the islands. It was all quite wonderful but we flew back to Uk at the weekend to thick snow and ice - quite a contrast! Then we came back here to Lanzarote and I am just about getting over the jet lag!! A tiring journey but well worth the trip. Talking of journeys... Here's my first post for 2013...
“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. Your vacation sounds wonderful! But I'll bet it was a shock to return to the snow!

    I have actually been thinking a lot about character journeys this past week as I roll into the climax of my WIP. This is the second book in a contracted trilogy, but there is an option to add 2 more books if the series is successful. Tricky to plan a journey over 3 books that might be 5!

  2. What a fantastic trip!

    I don't use myths, but I suppose all my characters go on some kind of journey. Usually it's a character development type thing, but my current WIP also features a physical journey.

  3. Your trip sounds absolutely wonderful, Pat. Something to think about during the coming months.
    Yes we have snow in the UK & lots of it. Here's hoping we don't get any more.

  4. Sounds like you had a great trip. Welcome back!

  5. I'm writing a memoir about the time I worked in a nursing home, so my "characters" were moving toward death. Some people might think that's depressing, but it's important to remember that they almost always wanted to take that journey. Welcome back.


  6. Welcome home!
    I haven't used journeys (other than character development) in my work. But that could change.

  7. The concept of the journey is one of my favorite themes in stories. I like taking journeys myself and enjoy reading about the journeys others have taken. It about growth and discovery and so many other things.

    Wrote By Rote

  8. What a fantastic trip you've had :-)
    I dislike taking journeys, but I like to send my characters on them :-) x

  9. I bet the Caribbean cruise was wonderful, I did the same thing for my honeymoon.

    Journeys for a character is really important because it gets the reader invested in them, their motivations and emotions. I suppose it's why I don't really plan because I don't know how the character is going to react to events, etc til they're in them - I don't really know them yet!