Aside from completing the first draft of Camp Follower last month, I was engrossed in an online course offered through Guppies, an Internet chapter of Sisters in Crime. Technically, Guppies are "The Great Unpublished," but quite a few of us are now published.
"Plotting with the Mythic Structure: Creating Surefire Plots that Sell" is taught by Mary Buckham. Mary teaches a variety of courses online and on-site. Guppies sing her praises for a synopsis course she taught in 2006. I can certainly attest to her attention to detail and almost psychic ability to identify individual problems in manuscripts, as well as her warm-hearted willingness to help everyone who puts forth effort. At times during January, she juggled about two-dozen plot lines and avoided confusing one plot with another. When there are days that I get even my two sons mixed up, how does she do it -- software? I suspect her predominant archetype is "goddess." :-)
Joseph Campbell gave us the Hero's Journey decades ago in his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Christopher Vogler followed up in 1992 with his book The Hero's Journey, one of the "homework" pieces recommended by my editor back in 2004 when he told me, to my surprise, that I write the Hero's Journey. The what?
The Hero's Journey is an ancient storytelling structure common to myths and legends, but we find it embedded even today in the plots of novels and movies. Vogler describes twelve steps of the journey in his book and discusses archetypes, but Mary Buckham brings it home in her course with templates that apply it to bestselling movies and novels of all genres. The most helpful aspect of the course is applying those templates to your own work in progress and then sharing with the rest of the class. Several writers came into the course with just a few sentences of story idea and finished with an entire novel plotted out. I told you Mary was a goddess.
She offers the course online again in May through Writer University. Whether you are a first-time writer or a published veteran, I highly recommend the course. But I shall act as threshold guardian here and warn you that the course isn't for dabblers. There's serious work involved. And that, folks, along with finishing Camp Follower, was why I skipped blogging in January.