H.'s Reviews > The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers

The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler
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's review
May 22, 2009

did not like it
bookshelves: film, research
Recommended for: people who didn't read as children
Read in May, 2009 , read count: 1

Talk about a journey. Over the course of this book the writing took a brutal tumble from informative and interesting to ridiculous fluff. I went from happily staying up late to boredom and eye-rolling to disgust and finally actual anger while reading. Vogler's 370-page supposed guide to story-writing, set on the solid foundation of Joseph Campbell's work (reviewed here in the worthwhile first 70 pages), is a joke. It's a waste of time and insult to the reader, with indulgently superficial skimming of truly profound fields to back up his vague and meandering ideas.

Vogler seems perfectly unaware of the worthlessness of his repeated example of an unspecific, universal and ancient tribe with vague traditions and rituals from which all our storytelling must follow. There are no citations for this tribe or their traditions, but the logic Vogler uses is that the story structure related here is valuable and intrinsic because these universal tribal forefathers used it. He folds in cheap quotes from Aristotle and others without embarrassment, using them in all their generality to back up his unsubstantial points. There are also unbelievably (and predictably uncited) general and vague scientific examples that say little of actual science and, worse, often little to support his claims. All this devolves into a chapter on how a good story should effect several bodily organs at a time and a superficial several pages on chakras. Vogler, with little understanding of the deep worlds he's visiting, just puts together a mishmash of cultures, philosophy, religions and science (with a scattered few engaging analyses of movies according to Campbell's structure that provoke the fleeting wonder of what this book could have been) and splats it against the wall like a monkey throwing shit.

Some favorite lines towards the end of the book:

"According to some modern Hindu sages, Hitler may have been very open in the power and throat chakras, making him an effective communicator who could stir the emotions and marshal power with his voice, but he was probably shut tight in most of the other chakras."

"My motto as a story evaluator became, 'If it isn't making at least two organs of my body squirt fluids, it's no good.'"

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Reading Progress

04/22/2009 page 137
05/01/2009 page 197
53.24% "Man, this book has become a real chore to slog through." 1 comment
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