Another hero's journey

If you're like me, still perhaps forever striving to make this writing thing your living, you will likely just like me, find your inbox full of great if not indispensible advice on storytelling every day. Most of these emails will one way or another touch on the theme of relevance for the audience - audience engagement, getting them hooked on your story.

The most important advice to engage your audience seems to be: create a protagonist they will root for. This will be repeated over to a new scribe, until it echoes deep in his or her subconscious. And without so much as a critically furrowed brow, we have swallowed the toad.

And a toad it is. The hero in all his aggregate forms, is a child of a specific culture, of circumstance that gave permission to a usually male loner to defeat evil, rescuing princess and kingdom, and to do so single-handedly. Those hero's journeys are well loved and run on a heavy rotation in all your media. But are they relevant today? Hardly.

Personally, not only do I feel an increasing sense of irony when watching another hero's journey - an irony that has been reflected in recent superhero narratives, from 007 to Iron Man - but I also feel a sense of imminent danger, as if a red alert is being issued but I don't know it's source.

Possibly it's my instincts trying to alert me to the fact that, if we keep hammering yesterday's messages into our audiences' hearts, we are obliterating our relevance to them and giving our craft, our livelyhood and our industy over to the next, more relevant platform for stories that need to be told.

write on!


© Barbara Bauer 2013