Warning: you may have an entire transformation of priorities after reading this.
This may at first feel like a boring approach to the monomythic structure, I mean who really wants a lesson about priorities. Don’t we already kinda know this? Well, I’ve come to find out how exciting this can be, and how many dramatic devices are in play to skid a hero away from them.
When living life it’s easy for a hero to become sidetracked, distracted, taken off course from their priorities. There are endless temptations, injustices, heartaches, betrayals and much more negative stuff it seems around every corner. These often feel like psychological attacks. The design of it all feels like a calculated effort to steer us off our priorities.
In films, we often observe that as soon as the hero shifts priorities they are dealt with the consequences.
I’ll draw a line in the sand here and state that family or a sense of family should be a top priority for anyone. Family values are really a quite exciting strength and it’s why there are indeed so many diverging, if not devious plots to separate a hero from their source. Whenever there is a strong family system in operation in your film you will build up a foundation, a platform, and when this foundation is taken away you better believe the hero will do whatever it takes to bring it back, to find balance. We love to learn from these stories and the crueler the villain the more we learn when the hero defeats the villain.
We really want to understand this. Most of us want ti experience a positive current in our lives, an uplifting if not spiritual direction, purpose. In order to really feel life’s true adventure, we must work in awareness to put things in motion today that will have a positive spin in our lives tomorrow and in order to best make this happen our priorities have to be in order. For example, a hero who ambitiously seeks material possessions will become possessed by them, and learn to fear their loss. This is bad. It feels negative. Material possessions don’t love or care about us and acquiring more of it usually separates us from those things that have the greatest potential to reflect back our generosity.
When the hero focuses on material possessions, fame, power or fortune it’s really time for a movie.
The hero must learn to order their priorities. This invisible work slowly proves to the hero through positive experiences that indeed a happy life is earned. But it’s hard. There are powerful, dark forces working to break up this order and rearrange them by making, or confusing the hero to believe the lowest of priorities should be the highest.
Filmmakers who find these principles are well on their way to illustrating this for their audience and can transform the lives of their audience by creating stories about the very process.
Actors who discover these truths can incorporate them into their work, making every moment a degree of priority. Understanding where their archetype stands in their beliefs can empower the actor through this understanding to deliver incredibly realistic performances.
The creative can indeed watch their creations go off and produce heartwarming, thought-provoking content that works to bring back to the creator an unbelievable sense of the positive adventure.
Stories that only sell, or glorify wrong behavior will tempt your audience to do wrong and over time this will end up hurting the one who created it. As creatives, we have a duty to use our gifts to serve others not to confuse them. Stories with the real value, that really impact the audience will enrich the storyteller. This is where I hope you will land in your work here. We need a wave of ethically minded creators who can set ablaze the negative media and bring back stories that hold life lessons, meanings and work to uplift.
Let’s take this into the monomythic structure using the archetypes as a ladder of degree.
The hero: The hero is in the middle of the priority ladder. It’s the reason they need a film to happen so they can move up the ladder. The great forces that work to bring the hero down the ladder create negative, polarizing energy that the hero must rise above. Because their priorities were off they lost their prince or princess, or something they love but ignored as a consequence. This pain triggers the hero into awareness of the story and the film is about paying the prices, suffering the consequences yet making adjustments.
High on the list of priorities for the villain are anything that draws in more power, more wealth, more conquests and so on. They assume all energy is here for them to manipulate, to control. They are focused in bringing tyranny to the hero, or those that represent a threat. Villains practice these selfish means, this black magic for naught. They all learn that the very energy they summon in order to destroy another turn on them. Energy itself follows rules, ethics, laws. It’s rather fascinating.
Let’s really work on this. We want to be able to recognize when we are either becoming a bit villainous or a villain is before us. Often times we cannot discern an evil agenda from a loving one. Villains are actually extremely skilled in deception, they can make you believe they have your best interests are the heart but behind your back, they are stealing all the labors of your work. So please take some time and mentally jot down or write out the challenges below.
T) screenwriters: jot down a selfish desire. An example of this a desire for fame. Once you have your characters dark desire in mind write out all the means, or tactics you imagine the villain will use to obtain this selfish desire. You want to really understand the nature of villains to learn to overcome, cope, defeat, rise above the negative priorities the villain keeps as a kind of secret agenda.
T) Actors. Use improv to help you with dealing with these setups. One actor will be the villain. Decide upon a selfish desire for your character, make this desire your character priority. Visually see how this desire could become actions. You can start the scene doing this action, performing this visual transformation, obsessed with this neurotic, delusional state of mind. The other actor can choose to be any big the other archetypes, these can be even pulled out of a hat.
Doing these improv games can be quite educational in aiding the actor portraying these archetypes to deeply understand the form and the function of each one. I recommend a good healthy discussion after the sessions. My hope is that you can better now recognize the difference in priorities from a villain to a mentor.
The mentor embodies the mysterious benefits of a life devoted to God, to family and to serving humanity. This deep devotion over time has proven to the mentor the benefits of their choices. They are at one with the cosmic story, natures universal laws, a flawless relationship with cause and effect and a genuine feeling of security within whatever circumstance they are in for they often create it for themselves. Sounds great, right? Well, then why are so many heroes out there still finding pain, heartache? It’s because they lack discipline. This is why the mentor often trains the hero up. They teach the hero, demonstrate to the hero the incredible powers of a disciplined mindset. The hero must come to a place where they are ready to receive this. It’s a powerful monomythic storyline, relationship and it should be made clear that hero, when the film is completed will enter into their own mentorship program helping those with issues, circumstances very similar to those they faced. This is the best example of a following of, a life dedicated to God, to family and to serving their fellow heroes.
If you could be completely honest with yourself, what would be a list of your priorities? What, above all else, do you to see happen in your life? Do you see your name in lights, a big house, lots and lots of material possessions or do you see joy, gratitude, peace and security for those you love and care about? Making this list can help you extract heroic thought processes, help you see yourself begin to know yourself and if need to make adjustments.
If you choose to continue to make being famous a top priority, fame itself will prove to you it does not return the favor. In other words, fame does not have you as their top priority. Fame, material possessions etc are all establishing a false sense of security and this lie is really the crux of the monomythic structure. It’s the mentors the mentors that you seek and it’s the mentors you will become.
Enriching the life of another with wisdom will in return enrich your life. Wisdom cares about you and is here to quietly prove itself and will eternally reward you.
But you have to make the choice, you have to want it, decide you are ready and use your mind as a tool. Mentors will come but in the end, they want other mentors to learn from too.
Talk about annoying, or maybe one of the most powerful examples to illustrate the punishments of low priorities is the shapeshifter archetype. If the hero’s head is in the right place they can usually discern between a ally and a minion, but often times in the thrill of an adventure they are can’t. The moment when a shapeshifter reveals their real priority is one of the most powerful examples of the monomythic device and proves you are well on your way to finding real truth. A shapeshifters priority boarders on the side the negative. They are often bribed, blackmailed, intimidated or just too weak of mind to make up their own mind and they are used to trick the hero. A well-written shapeshifter plays the role of the ally to the hero, maybe even the mentor. And right when the shapeshifters words should all prove themselves true there is a profound negative backfiring. This feels like such an incredible jolt on the roller coaster of a story. If you execute this well oh how many audiences you could entertain.
The good shapeshifter. Many times a character will change sides, good to bad, bad to good. The shapeshifter usually comes to their senses, realizes the villain took advantage of them and faces it all, or at least admits their mistakes to the heros party.
If you are really looking for a sense of betrayal in your storyline for the hero to face then really examine this archetype. Your audiences will relate. Here are some good ideas for shapeshifter energies:
The hero is tricked by a company who positions themselves as a caring entity but has malicious intent.
The hero is lewd down a path they believe is drawing them closer to the prince or princess only to be taken to the villain.
The hero places their faith in an educational system only to realize the school does not have their best interest at heart.
As simple as it is, your ally is your best friend, the archetype that will always prove you are one of their top priorities. Think of a dog. Dogs are not going to betray you, hurt your life in any way they seem to be here to remind us of this archetype with undeniable friendship energy. Their pain is different, they have learned not to cause pain so therefore they simply don’t have to go through or suffer through the consequences of their own negative choices… they didn’t make them.
We often muddle, or neglect or take for granted those that simply care about us. There needs to be a universal shift here. There needs to be stories about allies, more weight placed on the importance of allies and ways we can all undo the pain and sorrow we seem to be passing on to each other. Allies have suffered enough!
No doubt you have an ally in your life and you are an ally to someone. A good way to understand this archetype for your stories is to deepen, strengthen these relationships in your life’s journey. Can you think of someone right now who you sense is your ally? Someone who you know accepts you, appreciates you, has your back. Can you think of someone you are these things to? That regardless of what they do you feel you know their heart.
If you are low on ally energy and want to give it a boost, regardless if you are looking to fortify your script or not is to create it. Sometimes we wait for others to seek us out to be asked to go on a high sea adventure but what if we instigated it. A good way to create this to have a positive goal in mind. A good example of this is one of my best friends and his wife has created annual couples retreat with the idea to help couples grow closer together. He has created a very positive experience for many of us couples. For him, it takes quite a lot of coordination, communication and sheer effort to bring all of us together but for him, he seeks out this adventure from the most positive place imaginable and its all worth it. The reward is of the highest possible order. So what can you do to create a positive adventure for those you care about?
The Prince/ Princess:
Saving the prince or the princess becomes a top priority for any real hero. The reason is they represent pure love. This love is often so naive, so trusting they can get trapped by the villain. Often times this entrapment is a result of a bad decision of the hero and so during the movie the hero must work to figure out why they made that decision and how to correct it.
Creating an archetype that possesses such trusting, good energy but suffers from the circumstance that leaves them vulnerable will generate sympathy from your audience. And when the hero comes to save this archetype it should stir us, our hearts should feel the adventure as we should all want t see the reunion of these two archetypes.
To understand this in more complex ways is to delve deeper into your own journey. There are, within us all, aspects that both need saving and can save. There are gifts we don’t possess and gifts we do. It’s why we all need to learn how to lean on each other and work as a human race. We are all mothers and daughters, fathers and sons. We all have family and we all must work to save, protect and enrich each others family system.
This mistake we make here is thinking something is worth saving and is not. A good example here is an addiction. A powerful example of a character flaw is in who believes their craving for a high is worth saving more so then say spending time with a loved one. We watch and we experience this movie plot a lot.
HW: Think of people you know that need your protection. Make a list a jot down why, or qualities you know are worthy of your saving energy. They also work to make a list of areas in your own life that you may need to be saved. Areas in life you are weak in, things about this place you don’t understand. Doing this will help you understand both simplicity and sometimes the complexity so that you can better know when to ask for help and when you can use your gifts to save others from getting burned in some way. Once this becomes a habit your personal life can be filled with real-life heroes who work to protect your weaknesses as well as people who appreciate your ability to save them in some key area. So go forth and save and be saved. You can do it!!!
The minion is quite the complicated archetype that has its priorities directed in a negative direction. Often discovered in a dark place the villain, who is seeking a karma scapegoat, recruits them through the use of dark instruments to serve the villain’s selfish agenda. I said a lot there. Once the minion is more or less entrapped by the villain the minion becomes enamored with the power the villain uses to hurt others and get their way. It’s the most toxic kind of relationship and they always end in tragedy. Avoid these kinds of vicious circles at all costs as they will damage or cloud your connection to the positive but they make great dramatic threads if fully understood and one can discover aspects of themselves that are the villain or minion heavy.
In many cases it’s impossible to detect when you are being attacked by a minion.
A good everyday example is marketing and advertising of things that are bad for us. Corporate greed leads to the rotting of ethics inside an organization and they create false advertising to lure us into buying their products. The owner/ villain archetype pays or forces his team of minions to create these pieces of propaganda so they can profit.
Both the villain and the minion have their priorities in bad places, the greed place.
The greed place is the vicious cycle.
In real life you may find yourself in one of these cycles. You may be around someone who seems like a villain to you, or you may villainize them into becoming one. Minion and villain relationships never work out to benefit humanity. These archetypes are designed to hurt each other. It may appear at times that the villains are winning but it’s false. In addition, villains only appear in our lives when we need a good wake up call or we ourselves are about to experience a transformation. So if you are battling a few rotten scoundrels trust something inside of you is being corrected. Trust the process. Document everything so you can script out the truths.
I don’t like to be in these kinds of relationships nor do I like seeing those I care about in them either. The best way to avoid them is to practice the golden rule. When you do this you put into motion incredibly positive life mechanics.