Storytelling in depth: Characters we know by heart

Video: Glove and Boots explain the monomyth, or hero’s journey.

Part of a series on the intricacies of storytelling, and how to harness it for your brand …

Puppets make everything better, including the hero’s journey from Joseph Campbell.

The monomyth is a pattern described in Campbell’s 1949 book, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” It has 17 stages showing how a hero journeys from obscurity to triumph in many common narratives.

Puppet online video series Glove and Boots breaks down the monomyth by describing the archetypal characters, rather than the journey’s stages:

  • The Hero
  • The Herald
  • The Mentor
  • The Threshold Guardians
  • The Trickster
  • The Shape-Shifter
  • The Shadow

Our 2013 keynote speaker Ike Pigott used the video in his presentation. He explained that we know what makes a good story from instinct, and that everybody has a story.

Your stories must have a voice. They must have a structure. They must have real action and stakes. And your stories should be filled with characters: a Hero with whom people can identify, a Trickster providing comic relief, a Shadow who must ultimately be defeated.

The puppets explain that Campbell’s monomyth makes the difference between a laudable “Happy Gilmore” and a leaden “Jack and Jill.” We can only hope that Sandler’s next journey is sidesplittingly heroic.

Adam Sandler, Happy Gilmore

See more posts in our “Storytelling in-depth” series.

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About Wade Kwon

Wade Kwon is conference director for Y’all Connect. See his full bio.