Wednesday, July 13, 2011

HJ4W 7 Approach to the In-most Cave

Writing Wednesday - The Hero's Journey for Writers

The seventh phase of the hero's journey is the Approach to the In-most Cave. In the mythic form, something critical--a talisman, a weapon, or simply a key bit of information--lies hidden and guarded in an actual cave. The hero and the allies he gathered in the sixth phase now understand enough about the special world to take this step to improve their chances.

Kim Hudson* describes the preparations characteristic of this step:
"Once the Hero has amassed a group of allies, they need to get information or some object that will increase their chances of success in the Final Battle. They begin by making a plan to infiltrate the villain's inner sanctum. There is a moment of calm while the Hero and his allies plan and bond as a group. The operation is laid out, dangers are highlighted, and the significance of the mission is explained. ... The object is to get in and get out, and be wiser for the effort."
For writers, this phase corresponds to working with critique groups and beta readers to revise and polish the manuscript in preparation for submission.

Agents and editors, as much as they say they open every query hoping to find the next big thing, are structurally handicapped by the volume of material they receive and must as a matter of survival stop reading as soon as they find one too many problems. Getting past all the automatic reasons the people you query have to say, "No," is very much like infiltrating the villain's lair (not that agents and editors are villains but rather that the effort to stand out amid all the other queries is analogous to getting past the defenses). So you and your allies go through the drafts of the manuscript, synopsis, and query, sharpening and strengthening everything until you're ready to launch your submission.

And in that quite moment when you survey your work and realize you are prepared as you can be, there's a delicious mix of confidence, excitement, and a sprinkling of anxiety--as you nod and think this could actually work--to savor.

* Kim Hudson, The Virgin's Promise

Image: Simon Howden /

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