This past weekend, I was lucky enough to get a ticket to Michael Hauge‘s workshop on Story Mastery. The Calgary chapter of the Romance Writers of America (CaRWA) hosted him. Mr. Hauge is a well known script consultant for Hollywood who has worked for every major studio and network. He knows his story.
I’ll give you only a brief run down on what he spoke about since, I really can’t do it justice.
Mr. Hauge spoke about the Hero’s Outer Journey, or Plot Structure in the morning and about the Hero’s Inner Journey, or Character Arc in the afternoon. The great thing about his workshop is it addressed both the inner and outer journeys. He broke down story structure (outer journey) not just into the Three Acts, but further into six Stages.
So rather than going into details about the Outer Journey/Plot Structure, I’m going to share a few tidbits on the Inner Journey of the Protagonist. Mr. Hauge boiled it down to a character’s Identity and Essence.
Identity: This is the False Self the character presents to the world to protect him/her from the Fear that grows out of the Belief created by the Wound suffered long ago.
Essence: Who the Character would be if you stripped away the Identity (the armour or false front). It would leave their True Self. This is who they have the potential to become, if only they find the courage.
To start the Inner Journey for your character, you’ll need to ask what their Longing or Need is. A Longing is something they want (and admit to wanting) but are too afraid to go after. A Need is something that they need but won’t admit (even to themselves) that they need it. (ie; a personal connection, love, etc… NOT tangible items like wealth)
Wound: An unhealed painful experience from our character’s youth that the character feels that they are past but they’re really not.
Belief: Grows out of the wounds from the past and are never accurate but always logical. (ex: A character has an abusive father who doesn’t love the character, thus the character believes that they are unlovable.)
Fear: The character’s fear is having the Wound happen again. This is a visceral fear. It’s not thought out by the character.
So a character develops a Belief from the Wound, as well as a Fear of the Wound ever happening again. And all of these contribute to a character’s Identity. The character can only achieve whatever they long for/need if they step out of their Identity and live in their Essence. The transformation from Identity to Essence is (insert drum roll)….. the Character Arc.
The character is firmly based in their Identity when the story begins. Now if you look at the chart above again. You’ll see that as the story moves forward the Inner Journey follows the Outer Journey. At the end of the story, in order to give the reader a satisfactory ending, the character must be in their Essence. (Though there are examples of tragedies where the protagonist turns their back on their Essence and loses what they most desire. Think Brokeback Mountain.) The vacillation and struggle between Identity and Essence can really draw a reader in.
This is only a small taste of Mr. Hauge’s talk on the Inner Journey (let alone everything else he covered). I would highly suggest that if you able to take one of his workshops then you should. I learned so much and he is an excellent speaker. Thank you to CaRWA for organizing such a great event.
Have you ever heard of Michael Hauge? What do you think of a character’s Inner Journey? Is it something easy for you? Or are you like me and it’s tough to nail down? I’d love to hear your thoughts!