The Billionaire Writers Secret

The Billionaire Writers Secret

During a​ career spanning twenty-five years of​ novel, film, and television work, I've two major tools most valuable: the yogic “chakras” for characterization, and Joseph Campbell’s model of​ the Hero’s Journey for plot structure.

These are not random choices, nor were they selected because of​ the many intelligent and thoughtful essays on their relationship to​ successful film or​ world myth.

Rather, they are important because they create a​ connection between the inner world of​ the writer, and the external world of​ the finished work—and the reader.

A plot structure is​ nothing more than a​ tool for organizing events in​ temporal sequence. While there are more such structures than there are professional writers, few of​ them meet what thousands of​ students consider a​ critical test: are they actually easy to​ use and apply? a​ simple tool, however limited, can be of​ greater use than a​ complicated tool that requires years to​ master. Remember: you will achieve real quality in​ your writing only by mastering your basics.

The Hero’s Journey, extracted from thousands of​ years of​ world mythology, has the advantage of​ actually mimicking the path of​ life itself. The “three act structure” does not. After all…life isn’t divided into three, or​ five, or​ eight acts. Such divisions can be useful tools, but they should never be mistaken for some kind of​ “truth” about existence. in​ comparison, note this interpretation (there are others) of​ the steps of​ the Hero’s Journey, and to​ explain them, we’ll look at​ the first Star Wars movie, “Episode IV, a​ New Hope”:

1) Hero Confronted With a​ Challenge. “Come with me, Luke, learn the ways of​ the Force.” This is​ pretty clear, right? There has to​ be a​ challenge, or​ a​ beckoning, or​ the character won’t begin to​ change—and all great writing is​ about change.

2) Hero Initially rejects the challenge, :I promised Uncle Owen I’d work on the moisture evaporators.” a​ real challenge, one that can provoke real change, will be frightening and exciting. a​ character will usually have some reservations.

3) Hero accepts the challenge. Luke’s aunt and uncle are killed, freeing him from his oath. if​ your character doesn’t accept the challenge, there is​ no story—unless the story is​ about the consequences of​ not accepting responsibility.

4) The Road of​ trials. Traveling to​ the desert town and cantina, getting on Han Solo’s spaceship, traveling to​ other planets, etc. This is​ the section where locations and sequence interact. The character travels, learns, commits actions that force inter-action with the environment, and the environment responds positively or​ negatively, with greater and greater stakes as​ the story proceeds.

5) Gaining Allies and Powers. Luke meets Han Solo, and Chewbacca, and Obi-Wan, and Princess Leia. He learns of​ the Force, and the use of​ Light Sabers, and how to​ fly and fight and rescue princesses. if​ your character doesn’t have to​ grow in​ order to​ resolve the problem, you may have chosen the wrong problem or​ character!

6) Initial Confrontation with Evil, and defeat. Obi-Wan’s death. or​ possibly the disastrous attack on the Death Star. One is​ private and emotional, the other spectacular and physical.

7) Dark Night of​ the Soul. The moment of​ greatest weakness. Luke begins to​ believe he cannot win, and everything he loves will die.

8) Leap of​ Faith. “Trust your Feelings, Luke.” The leap of​ Faith is​ always faith in​ one of​ three things: faith in​ self, faith in​ your companions, or​ faith in​ a​ higher power. in​ “Star Wars” it​ is​ all three! This may be the only time in​ the history of​ cinema that this was true, and helps to​ explain why George Lucas is​ a​ billionaire.

9) Confront Evil—victorious. The Death Star blows up.

10) Student Becomes the Teacher. Luke is​ presented with medals, which establish him as​ a​ role model.


The above ten steps are not some cookie-cutter pattern. They are the combined world wisdom about the path of​ life itself, the process we go through in​ achieving any worthwhile goal. There will be fear. There will be defeat. We will need to​ gain new skills and friends and partners. We must be clear on our acceptance of​ goals and responsibility. We must have faith. And ultimately, if​ we have struggled, and learned, and sacrificed, and moved through our fear…we learn and grow and succeed. And then we teach others. This is​ the pattern of​ life, and any time you organize information and events into a​ pattern even vaguely reminiscent of​ this, the human nervous system, worldwide, will recognize it​ as​ story.

It is​ NOT some kind of​ cure-all for bad story tellers. What these ten steps are is​ something analogous to​ the eighty-eight keys of​ a​ piano. Understand the emotional and life significance of​ each step, and then “play them” as​ your developed instincts dictate. Make your own kind of​ music. The pattern has worked for about thirty thousand years. it​ will work for you, too.

The Billionaire Writers Secret

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