Friday, April 22, 2016

Final Post! ~ Finished plot overview

Our time for Genius Hour is almost up, and so my journey through the monomyth must come to a close.  Looking back to the very beginning of Genius Hour, I have to admit I'm suprised.  I started this project with no clue as to where it would end up.  And now?  I'm gearing up to write a novel.
Of course, the novel may never actually happen - in fact, it probably won't - but I have the feeling that the stuff I learned making just the plot overview was the real reward of Genius Hour.  

I don't claim to be a genius.  I'm certainly no kind of expert on classic heroic literature.  However, Genius Hour did give me an opportunity to delve into this subject and considerably increase my knowledge of the topic.  Had I not been given the opportunity to do this in school, I sincerely doubt I would ever have thought to do it on my own.

Okay, enough waffling.  Let's get to the good stuff!

Based off of my research, and the results I received from internet polls and survey, I've drafted a plot overview for a fantasy story called The Kingdom of Athedon.  It carries features from several hero stories I've read.  The plot is kind of convoluted, though, and lends itself to a book of great length - something like the Chronicles of Narnia.  Or perhaps even a series of books.  I don't know.  
At any rate, here it is.  It's highly simplified, and in a final draft of the story, there would be many more characters and plot twists.  This is more of the skeleton and the backstory.

Whether or not this plot summary grows into a full-fledged book, only time will tell.  But one thing is sure. If it does, I'm publishing it!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Research and Annotated Bibliography Complete!

I  have pretty much finished my research.  I've distributed and collected data  from the Google Forms survey and the series of Google+ polls.  Returns from the polls were massive (as expected), and the survey also went over very well.  This was mostly due to Mr. Schoenbart tweeting the link out to his followers, who tweeted it to their followers, etc.  I got lots of responses - testament to the power of the internet.

To the left is a screenshot of one of the poll boxes.  As you can see, the favored type of hero "Silly Goofball," followed closely by "Tragic Hero/Antihero."   Interesting...

Unfortunately, I couldn't find contact information for Mr. Vogler, so I couldn't interview him.  However, I have his article, so that's just as good.

(For my complete annotated bibliography, click here.)

Now that I've got all my info, I'm ready to create my plot outline and storyboard for the adventure story I want to write.  I'm super excited!  Keep an eye on this blog for updates!!

Friday, March 18, 2016

TOPIC PROPOSAL! "The Infinite Hero"

Here's the (fixed) link to my topic proposal: Click Here.

I’m going to create a story that is based on the classic hero stories and is relevant to almost everyone reading it.  I want to write a story that is not only relatable, but entertaining, and that carries a moral lesson that everyone should know.  Hopefully, this story will inspire people to follow their own dreams, create their own stories, and become their own heroes.

Now that I have an idea as to the typical format of a hero story, it's time to get some more detail on the preferred format of the archetypal hero.  The most important audience for classic adventure stories is the middle school/high school age group.  Darker and more complex stories - the type I’m aiming to create - are also popular with young adults.  However, a truly archetypal story appeals to nearly every demographic category.  I want to create a story that shows its readers old-fashioned morals, the phenomena of human nature, and the classic battle between good and evil, while also being an entertaining read.   Hopefully, reading this story will encourage people to believe in values like courage and honesty, and maybe even to create a story of their own.

Besides attempting to set up an interview with Mr. Vogler, I'm going to gather data via social media.  I intend to publish a series of quick polls on the social media platform Google+, each poll posted on several different popular Google+ Communities, such as Teenagers+ and Teen Posts.  Since these communities receive a fairly large amount of traffic from high-school and middle-school aged kids, the results from these polls should offer an insight into the general opinion of this demographic group.  And, since teens and preteens are the leading audience for adventure stories, this information will be important and valuable.

In addition, using the Google Forms application, I intend to create a multiple-choice survey compiling all the questions from the separate polls, and circulate it amongst my compatriots at Ossining High School.  The results from this survey will be compiled with the results from the poll series, in order to enlarge my sample size and give me a better look at a specifically high-school-aged reader category.

Hopefully, the results from this research will enlighten me in the way of public opinions on specific types of hero stories!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Further Developments

As I've continued to read through these hero stories, my goal has become more defined.  Having looked at the basic plot points and character types of the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad, The Song of Beowulf, and Moby-Dick, I’ve gotten a few ideas as to the elements of the classic hero tale.  My findings also happen to coincide with those of the late Joseph Campbell, author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  This book pins down exactly what I’ve been trying to discover.  In addition, I have found an article (on the newsletter Raindance) written by Christopher Vogler, an internationally-renowned Hollywood development executive who specializes in heroic stories and is a teacher of writers and filmmakers.  

So, besides continuing my research, my next step will be to attempt to contact Mr. Vogler with the intent of obtaining his expert opinion in an interview on the matter of my research.  So far, my biggest question is: Why has the basic structure of the classic hero tale remained so similar throughout history and across thousands of miles?  Does it tie into a basic human need for adventure, or does it simply follow an outline that was set by the first stories and copied for everything else?
Hopefully, my next few posts will have the answer!

Friday, February 26, 2016

What I've Learned

I have begun my research, starting out with ancient hero stories.  I've already read The Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad, and the Song of Beowulf, but now I've gone back to review the plot points.  I've been poring over summaries of these epic tales, annotating any parallels I can find.

I've also noticed some interesting features of these stories, such as the influence of the culture that created the story on the story's plot and character development.  For instance, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, a wild monster-man is tamed by a woman.  This theory, that procreation is the door to civilization, is uniquely Mesopotamian.

The screenshot below, from the Song of Beowulf, shows some of the work I've done on these summaries.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


Hello everybody!  Welcome to my blog!
My name is Emma, and I´m participating in the Genius Hour project, where students around the world are given time in school to research something they love.  I´m a sophomore in high school, and what I love more than anything is a good story.  So, I´m researching the ingredients of the classic hero story.

Monday, February 8, 2016

My Strategy

My most pressing questions are, What makes a story great?  What makes the hero relatable to the audience?  How can a story be instilled with a greater meaning?  I’m going to research the world’s greatest epic tales, and root out some of the common ingredients that unite these stories.  In this way, starting from scratch (so to speak), I will be able to formulate the general recipe for writing a truly great story - one with a lesson and a soul.  I will start my search with the world’s first great work of literature: The Epic of Gilgamesh.  This ancient Mesopotamian prose-poem, dating from 2100 B.C, marks the birth of both religious mythology and of epic poetry and stories.  Moving on from Gilgamesh, I will skim through Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, and the Old English Song of Beowulf.  Then, I will move forward in time to more modern tales, such as Voltaire’s Candide, Melville’s Moby-Dick, and Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities.  Finally, I will end this tour of heroic literature with the most recent books, like Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and Rowling’s Harry Potter series.  With each of these books, I will analyze the different factors of the story, from character development to setting to conflict.  Then, I will track the development of these ingredients, both through time and between specific books (in the case of series).  Hopefully, this will allow me to determine the common skeleton structure of a good hero story.