My Hero’s Journey Is Personal And Twisted

keep writingIt’s a beautiful Saturday, Modern Philosophers, so let’s talk about writing.

We don’t do that often enough on this blog, and it’s something we should form Deep Thoughts on as we are pretty much all writers here.

Screenwriting has a very clear formula that one must follow in order to write a screenplay that is going to be accepted by the establishment and made into a movie.

There needs to be an inciting event in the first ten pages to propel the story into action.  On page thirty, at the end of Act One, there must be a turning point that makes the conflict in your story clear.  Page sixty is the Act Two turning point, and your story takes a twist, the odds seem to be working against your protagonist, and your hero makes a declaration or decision to move forward.  When the Third Act begins on page 90, your hero is at his lowest point, things look grim, and perhaps the bad guys are going to win.

The hero spends Act Three redeeming himself, saving the day, and giving us all the happy ending we desire (or expect since going to the movies is supposed to be an escape!).

The hero’s journey is different in every story, but it basically follows that same formula in every screenplay.  Think about your favorite movies, and then plug in all the set points that I listed above.  They are all there, right?

I make no secret that the protagonist in my screenplays is always a very thinly veiled version of me, if not just me.  The hero of The Retirement Party is literally me, as the screenplay is about one of my past relationships.

Austin 1With this in mind, I realized that my hero’s journey is way more personal than most.

If you think about my life since I started this blog as a screenplay, my hero follows a path that falls right in line with the rules of screenwriting.

The inciting event is that The Girl I Love moves away to go to school.  The First Act turning point is that even though she is 1400 miles away, I realize that I still love very much and I’m willing to make this long distance thing work even though I’m lonely and miss her way too much to be happy.

The Act Two turning point is that she comes home for Christmas Break, is very distant, and returns to school telling me that she thinks it’s better that we go out separate ways.

The hero then decides that there is no way he is going to accept that, and works his tail off to not only get her to change her mind, but also to fall more in love with him.  When he achieves this, all seems well with the world.

The Act Three low point was this past Christmas when The Girl Who Moved Away came home, said she couldn’t way to see me, and not only never showed up, but has also never spoken to me since.

The perfect photo for a post about a hero's journey, right?

The perfect photo for a post about a hero’s journey, right?

I thought my Third Act was going to be spent winning back The Girl Who Broke My Heart.  That would be the typical hero’s journey and story arc: boy meets girl, boys loses girl, boy gets girl back.  It’s the ending the audience wants and everyone lives happily ever after.  It worked in The Retirement Party, I sold that screenplay, and it was made into a feature film.

So why mess with success?

Because in real life, the good guys don’t always win, sometimes the girl falls in love with someone else, and every once in a while, the hero has a revelation.

In my Third Act, I’ve realized that my hero’s journey was not to win back The Girl With the Adorable Dimple, but rather, to find myself again.

It was time to stop being someone’s boyfriend, the second half of a heart, and the guy who didn’t think he could make it on his own.

Austin 2Sure, if you stuck a microphone in my face and put me on the spot in front of a live studio audience, I might have done the typical hero thing and declared I would win back her heart.  I know that’s what the crowd wants.

Instead, I looked at the above photo and realized how much I’d changed.  I had crazy eyes and had put on so much weight.  What had happened to our thinner, healthier, confident hero?  What could I do to get him back?

And so the Third Act of my hero’s journey has an unexpected twist.  I’m running five days a week, lifting weights, and eating healthier.  I’m going on dates and working on accepting that a hero doesn’t always need a sidekick.

As my waist is getting smaller, my self-confidence is growing by leaps and bounds.

This is perfect for this Modern Philosopher because my scripts always have a Third Act twist.  I love nothing more than surprising my audience, challenging them, and making them realize that the ending they thought they wanted wasn’t actually the best one.

Austin 3I haven’t quite gotten to FADE TO BLACK on this particular screenplay, but the Third Act twist has energized and reinvigorated me.

As is always the case with my screenplays, I never know how it’s going to end, and I’m simply letting my characters take me where they want to go.

Personally, I think stories are a lot more exciting when the conclusion is anything but obvious.

Hope this post on writing was informative.  Please let me know if you have any questions!

About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
This entry was posted in Fitness, Humor, Love, Philosophy, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to My Hero’s Journey Is Personal And Twisted

  1. nolanwrites says:

    Keep being a hero Austin, we all need someone to look up to! 🙂

  2. I find everything I write is a shadow of me. I think that’s true of everyone. Sometimes your role model is buried deep where no one else has ever gone; other times its a flippant or dumber or more successful version of yourself. But you’re always in there somewhere. So is our pain and our fascination and our morality. You keep writing just as you’ve been doing. The writing world will be better off for it.

  3. donedreaming says:

    This movie would have me cheering in the aisles!! That’s a hero to inspire us all 🙂

  4. jan says:

    I tried to write a screenplay once – it wasn’t easy! I have a hard time writing myself into anything although I have. I’m more comfortable becoming someone else!

  5. A says:

    I definitely like the new course of the screenplay wayyyy better Austin! Love is overrated, self love is never given enough screen time! Live and write the shit outta this one my friend ☺️

  6. Val Boyko says:

    I love your third act Austin!! May it bring more unexpected delights and twists … I have funny feeling it will 🙂

  7. markbialczak says:

    I’ve been pushing you in this direction a while now, Austin, have I not? 🙂 Good act three, yes, it is.

  8. Ali Isaac says:

    Interesting to know a bit more about you. I’m sorry you lost the girl with the dimple, but maybe it was never about her, after all. Everything happens for a reason, and this event seems to have done the trick.

  9. rowanaliya says:

    Good for you! Very inspirational. Maybe someday soon I’ll be able to join in on you me optimistic outlook.

  10. ksbeth says:

    i am so happy to read this, austin )

  11. Pingback: Friday Finds: Week 47 | Avid Reader

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