The hero’s journey, and the real world

Hey all, happy Valentine’s Day and all that goes with it. Craig here today, and how the heck did I draw February 14th in the rotation? We have a number of romance authors, and even erotica authors here at Story Empire, but somehow you got the speculative fiction guy.

So, we aren’t touching romance with a ten yard chain today. I have two ideas, one about self promotion, the other about the hero’s journey. Time for the coin toss.

Hero’s journey it is.

There are any number of plotting methods out there, and my living document on the subject has about seven. In a nutshell, they involve a reluctant hero taking on incredible odds to save the day. There are reasons for all of this, including making the hero relatable, facing incredible odds, and coming out the other side with some version of success and personal growth.

For today’s post, I’m going to take that and work around an idea I hold dear. I like to stuff my tales full of as much reality as I can before asking for a leap of faith on the speculative element. I write about robots and talking hats, so it’s important to me to base as much as I can on reality. To this end, I even sporadically post about odd things in a series I call The Idea Mill.

Back to the hero’s journey. Did any of you watch the Super Bowl this year? This is a true story, and it makes it easier to sell some of our fiction because this actually happened.

Doug Pederson is a former NFL player, interestingly as a backup quarterback to some more impressive players. He was coaching high school football in 2009. While helping our youth is a noble thing, it’s a long way from the spotlight.

Yet somehow, he made it back and entered a rare group who collected a Super Bowl ring as both a player and a coach. — Point for our overseas readers: Pederson is the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, who won this year’s Super Bowl.

This guy has underdog written all over him. His example would make a great hero basis for one of our stories. Personally, I see him as a better fit being one of those crusty old mentor characters. He’s done with all that. He’d like to get back, but there are any number of superstars who might want to coach and bring better headlines when they get hired… until he finds the right student.

Enter Nick Foles. Drafted into the NFL in 2012, by the Philadelphia Eagles. Somehow, they wound up trading him away. There could be chapters of good data written to illustrate the struggles of this young man at this phase of his life.

Foles bounced around multiple teams, always as a backup quarterback. The relationship to Pederson’s career is eerie and this isn’t fiction. Somehow, he wound up back on the Philadelphia Eagles, the same Eagles that drafted him originally, and that Pederson now coached. His mission was still to backup someone else.

Honestly, I don’t know if I could sell this as fiction. It almost seems a bit too deus ex machina to bring them all together like this, but it really did happen.

Even more deus ex machina is that Carson Wentz, the starting quarterback went down with a season ending injury part way through the season.

Keep in mind, the New England Patriots are perennial favorites, and were picked by everyone to win the Super Bowl. They have a beloved veteran quarterback themselves.  In this case, they are the bad guys. This makes it even more of an underdog hero tale.

Foles went on to lead his Eagles to the Super bowl victory, and did so in spectacular fashion. He even caught a pass at one point, just to add a bit of excitement. For the denouement part of our story, he was named Most Valuable Player. Rewards, accolades, and prizes just like in our fiction.

Disclaimer: I’m a Steelers fan, and still think they scored on the touchdown that got called back.

True stories give our fiction credibility. We could use this story to formulate our next book. Sure, it could be a sports story. It could also be about anyone who has to rise to the occasion. Insert your monsters, evil empires, and femme fatales as needed.

Think of either man. He’s good, he’s rewarded, he falls. The important thing is that he tries again, and again if necessary. An author could use Wikipedia and map out the high and low points for each man’s career, then use that map to write a darned good story. So get out there and start your hero’s journey, save that cat, or whatever form works for you.

Let me have it! Many of you aren’t Americans, but you should still be able to get the gist of this. Some of you are Patriots fans, and maybe you just don’t want to get it. Do real-world situations help you with your fiction? Do you observe the world with an author’s eye?

The Winter Olympics are on now. Do you have your notebook beside you?

C. S. Boyack

54 thoughts on “The hero’s journey, and the real world

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  4. Yeah, Steelers got ripped off this year. Again. (Refs ALWAYS cheat for the Pats.)

    Great description of the hero’s journey using the Eagles. I was elated when NE lost, and I really like Foles, so it was heartwarming to see him both win and get MVP. My only question about your post: Is Tom Brady really beloved? Not in this house!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: The love of Football on Valentine’s day | GRACIE BRADFORD: Grandma Midnight Book Reviews - Sassy and Outspoken

  6. The Superbowl this year was such a tough thing to watch as I am NOT a Pats fan, and my annoying brother in law is an Eagles fan and a nemesis to my Cowboys, so I knew if they won I would hear about it for the next… well, until the Cowboys win another Superbowl (I’m not holding my breath…) But, I was happy to see an underdog take down a giant… even if he is an old giant who should probably retire. Lol! 😉

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  7. I’m with you on the Steelers touchdown. Anyway, this was a great example of real life imitating fiction. To answer your question, I paint all the reality I can find around my stories. I like to have a plausible plot that serves as the backdrop to the fictional elements. The nice thing about how you serve up your stories is they are believable even with a talking hat. Terrific post, Craig.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. What a great post! Using the Eagles to illustrate the hero’s journey is inspired. It’s amazing what Nick Foles, Doug Pederson, and the team accomplished. If it had been any team, besides a Pennsylvania team, against the Patriots, I would have been cheering for Brady and Co., but the Eagles needed this win. I love a good underdog story.

    For making notes, I’m always scribbling on pieces of paper. I’ve tried so many apps on my cell but I still seem to resort to jotting an idea on whatever is at hand when it strikes me. When I get too many of them, I try to assemble them in a notebook. And I do have one of those too—it’s just not always with me.

    Had a nice chuckle that you drew the Valentine’s Day post. Great lead in 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  9. The story of the comeback kid. Sometimes the underdog will do something amazing. True fans wait for that moment. I am a dire heart Texan fan. I predict a Superbowl win for my Texans in 2019! I enjoyed reading something a little different on Valentine’s day.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Four female authors and two males here and you had to draw Valentine’s Day. I had to chuckle at that though. 🙂

    I love how you tied the story of Doug Pederson and Nick Foles. Excellent analogy! (BTW, I’m a Cowboys fan, but I was rooting for the Eagles this year.) It’s been said almost ad-nauseam that truth is stranger than fiction. But it’s true. Stories are everywhere if we only take time to look. A little tweaking, a little creative imagination, and a novel can emerge. Great post today, Craig!

    Liked by 4 people

  11. You had me guffawing on your first two paragraphs, Craig! Mmm, how can I shorten that yard chain?!?!? 🙂
    I’m from across the pond and not at all sporty, but I love your use of the NFL underdogs to heroes.
    My ipad is my notebook, and it’s full of ideas and flash fiction, etc. And if I’m somewhere without that, I use my phone, which I struggle to read even with my glasses on ‘cos the screen’s that small, lols … and I’m NOT that old!!! 🙂
    Thanks for an entertaining post!

    Pressed This on:

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Sports seem to have a lot of underdog stories. Noticing how many recent ones end up having the Patriots as ‘villains’ too. Anyway, sports in general seem to attract these Cinderella stories. The team starting off a season terribly and making a comeback. Returning from a severe injury. Last minute replacements on teams. The list keeps going. Guess there’s a natural drama to it all, which attracts many more than the sport itself.

    Liked by 5 people

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