When we left the fool, he’d learned a bit about imagination and planning. He learned about his personal work ethic. We met his parents, and he’s been loved and nurtured. The world is fertile, but he hasn’t experienced it yet. You can read part one here: Let’s go on the Fool’s Journey.
We have a main character, but he’s a bit boring right now. Breaking this into sections has been tough. We’re still developing our fool, but the next card stands for a bit more.
The next character on the hero’s journey is an important one. In most decks he’s called the hierophant. In many, he’s the Pope. In a few decks, like mine, he’s the high priest. I’m not thrilled with my card. The hierophant usually has his first two fingers toward heaven, and the next two toward earth. In my deck he still has two fingers each direction, but he seems to want to be in a metal band, or to attend the University of Texas.
In most decks he’s bestowing a blessing, or initiation on a couple of newbies. For some reason this didn’t happen here.
This is an important card for a writer. It stands for education, structure, rules, initiation, and belonging, routine, and counsel. The fool has been walking around on a blank page until now.
This part of the story could involve the priesthood, a knighthood, a position in the starting lineup, or a street gang. The fool’s journey paints with a broad brush. It’s the writer’s job to fill in the details. Your fool could be a loner, but there are still rules in his society. Maybe he’s fleeing from a posse, who has rules and structure.
I think the movie Animal House was all about this card.
The next step on the fool’s journey is that he wants something. All main characters should want something. The lovers has definite sexual and relationship overtones, but that’s not all it’s about. Love, fulfillment, choice, and surrender are the idea here. This card represents growth in the fool. He’s been kind of self centered and selfish up to this point.
If you’re writing a romance, this might be the end of your tale. On the other hand, your romance might want to go through some trials and troubles. Maybe your fool got on the starting lineup, but now he’s becoming part of the team. Maybe he loves his new job.
As an example, the movie American Pie ended once the characters got what they wanted.
The chariot represents accomplishment. Our fool has used everything he’s learned up to this point and moved up in the world. He learned from all the previous stops along his journey; school, imagination, work ethic, friends, and lovers. This is also an egotistical card. This card stands for travel, triumph, success, ego, and fame.
I think the chariot and the lovers can be reversed if the story calls for it. Sleepless in Seattle anyone?
I like the idea that there’s a white horse and a black horse. It reminds me of Plato’s representation of a chariot and driver as the whole man. Here’s a link to a two part breakdown.
The main character gets beaten down in our stories. There’s an old line about, “what do you get when you don’t get what you wanted? Character.” The fool gains strength. This character is all about courage, strength, compassion, self control, kindness, and gentleness.
Strength is depicted as a woman with a lion, and she’s dominant over the lion. In my deck she’s with a boar. Her sword is cast aside, because it’s not needed. She is the master and the boar knows it.
A main character at this point may have overcome an enemy, but is gracious and mature in victory. The fool is capable of building up after having torn down. For some reason, I see the last three cards at play in An Officer and a Gentleman.
It’s time for our fool to look within; to reflect and ponder the meaning of life. The hermit demonstrates this time in the fool’s life. He stands for solitude, reclusion, introspection, and thought.
Our fool has seen good people fail, and evil triumph in his life. He wonders what it’s all about. I don’t think this needs to be a big section of your novel, but it can be a useful one when you need it. Examples where the hermit plays a major roll include the book/movie Jaws. Sheriff Brody fled the city with his family. He just wanted a safe place with a little solitude. Clint Eastwood played the hermit in Gran Torino. Niether of these characters lasted long as hermits, life came calling. These stories started at this point.
We’ll stop here tonight. We managed to flesh out the fool as a character, educate him, give him a desire, and a bit of personality. He even has some bad traits, like an ego. He’s a more interesting fellow than we left him.
These cards can represent other characters in your stories, or situations only. Some novels will start somewhere in this section, others may end in this section.
What do you think of the fool’s journey as a kind of story structure? We’ve gone through ten of twenty two stops so far. I promise to cover the rest as the month plays out.