I've seen it asserted online that pretty much every successful story can be analyzed in terms of the Hero's Journey--not that they elaborate on every stage of the journey, but that they focus on part of the journey while at least alluding to the rest of it. I'm not convinced that this is so, though. Certainly I can think of lots of novels--especially fantasy bricks--that adhere to this structure closely. I'm willing to concede that the same goes for a lot of short stories. But when I think of a story like "All I Have To Do . . ." or like Elizabeth Bear's "The Horrid Glory of Its Wings," I'm hard pressed to make the connections.
. . . hmm . . . let me rethink that. In "All I Have To Do . . . ," maybe the challenge Liz is confronted with is getting to the bottom of her ability and learning to live (or not) with it. She rejects this challenge through her drinking and her attempts to stay awake. Her road of trials could be when she befriends Ronald and they experiment with filming her and with attempts at lucid dreaming.
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One could argue she confronts evil and is defeated when she kills Ronald she confronts evil and loses--loses in the sense that her interpretation of reality is flawed, and so she kills someone who is, if not innocent, not quite the monster she things. Her dark night of the soul would be her time in the mental hospital. She confronts evil again when she moves beyond her desire for revenge--she says--and dreams her little dream of all of us. You could even say she becomes the teacher, by bringing us to enlightenment and oblivion.
Does that work? *frown* Arguably. But is it useful? If the connections can be as tenuous as I just outlined, how does that help me when I set out to write a new story, instead of merely shoehorning an existing story into the broad strokes of this structure?
I wish I had a good resource on the Hero's Journey for writers. Like every good English major, I have a couple of books by Joseph Campbell, but those don't focus on the craft side of storytelling, but on the analysis side. I'm not going to go out and buy a how-to book without knowing if it's going to be helpful--I have enough useless books on writing. I found precious little online on this topic.