Or, Coming Full Circle
There are two cycles to choose from when plotting along a curve rather (or in addition to) a straight line, the heroic and the mythic. I like to do both. My straight plotline goes from notebook to my white board. I use both because I find the cycle comes in handy for character development.
The heroic cycle consists of a full circle with a horizontal line through the center as the threshold for adventure. Moving counter clockwise:
Phase 1 (Departure) begins with a departure from home, the familiar (think Luke in Star Wars). Sometimes the departure is reluctant but it happens nonetheless because otherwise there wouldn’t be a story.
Phase 2 (Initiation) crosses the horizontal line (the threshold) into another, unfamiliar world. This consists of the bottom half of the circle.
Phase 3 (Return) crosses the threshold from the right, reentering the familiar at the line, to see home with new eyes.
This cycle won’t work with the story I’m developing, so I’m going to use mythic journey instead. It has six milestones and includes both outer and inner conflicts for the protagonist. Moving clockwise this time:
Cage: the situation or circumstances that restricts a character’s movement, rather physically and/or emotionally. For our fallen knight, this would be the near-debilitating guilt and shame he feels. Ironic, since in Back Story Land, he left home thinking that was the cage he needed to escape. But he’s made mistakes and needs to make amends. For that, he needs a ship. For a ship, he needs money. His father holds the key to his inheritance.
Escape: the action motivated by the restriction. For FK, escape comes in the form of a attack on his home from an unseen enemy. Suddenly he’s in the thick of things, taking action without thought of himself, doing what needs to be done. Everyone’s looking to him for direction, for protection. Suddenly, he’s a leader,
Quest: where we diverge into two journeys, the physical and the spiritual. This is our Road of Trials, and its effect on the protagonist. I’ve brainstormed a chain of crises for poor FK. A few ideas from my notes: A mine collapse, where he sends people for refuge. People being hunted by wild boar and/or assassins. (Everything is always better with assassins). Foul murder (ditto). Small town politics. A childhood sweetheart, bitter at his previous escape, now engaged and seriously injured. Sibling rivalry. Mercenaries. His past. His father’s past. You get the idea.
All this leads up to the major point, the king’s troops occupying the town under the guise of aid. The choice FK must make is between treason and the survival of his people, or loyalty to the crown and the destruction of his home.
Dragon Confrontation: defined by TWN as a collision of forces, Good vs. Evil. Light vs. Dark. This is when FK’s past and that of his father catch up to them. They have more in common than he thinks. But it's FK who must out-cun (is that even a word? I think it is now) the dragon’s cunning. He’ll also face his own demons while he’s at it. Steal a ship. Steal the weapon. Culminate in a sea battle in a place and time in this world’s history where naval battles don’t generally exist.
Home: doesn’t have to be the same place as where we started. It doesn’t even have to be a place. FK’s home, his place of refuge is wherever the romantic interest is. Everything becomes clear. On a side note, I decided I wanted consequences for FK even if he succeeds. And I want him to go for it anyway, because it’s the right thing to do. He becomes a knight reborn.
Oo. Possible symbol here. Rebirth. Phoenix? Write it down.
Next time, we go for a spin.