Again and again in all these expressions of the Overcoming the Monster plot we see a moment which is of fundamental significance to storytelling: one which, like the characteristics of the monster itself, is relevant to stories of many kinds other than just those shaped by this particular plot.
To the huge relief of the hero (and of ourselves as the audience, identifying with his fate), just when it seems all is lost and that his destruction is inevitable, he makes a miraculous escape. Always it is only in the nick of time, just when all seems lost, that Luke Skywalker escapes from the final deadly assault by Darth Vader; that Quatermass saves mankind from the extra-terrestrials; that James Bond escapes from the clutches of his villains; that Well’s invading Martians are killed by bacteria; that the guns of Navarone are blown up; that Gary Cooper in High Noon is saved by the unexpected shot fired by his wife; that Jack manages to scramble back down the beanstalk; that the forester bursts in to save Red Riding Hood from the devouring wolf. From the constricting sense of imminent death, often physically represented by some dark, enclosing space in which the hero or heroine is trapped, they, and we the audience, are suddenly liberated.
The significance of the thrilling escape from death runs very deep. It is one of the most consistent motifs in storytelling, cropping up again and again in stories of every kind, and it is hardly surprising that we should find stories based on little else but the build up to a thrilling espace. For instance, Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year and Camus’s La Peste are both stories set in a city which has been attacked by a mysterious, deadly pestilence. From small beginnings, we feel the virulence of the plague becoming more and more obvious and terrifying until it seems no one can possible survive: then suddenly, as by a miracle it fades away. The mysterious plague in such stories is playing the part of the monster, all – conquering, deadly, remorseless in its power: except that we never see this particular monster face to face because it cannot be directly personified, but remains just a shadowy, increasingly threatening presence. Similarly the hero is not personally responsible for overcoming the monster. At the story’s climax, the reversal comes when the threat suddenly recedes. We experience such stories, in fact, through the eyes of a hero who is merely a more or less helpless observer, sucked into a nightmare which seems certain to end in his death, until brought to an end by agencies beyond his awareness or control.
Stories on this pattern have again become familiar in recent times in the form of those ‘disaster movies’ so popular from the 1970s onwards such as ‘Airport’. This film is centered on a group of passengers caught in the ‘enclosing space’ of a crowded airliner at night, threatened with imminent destruction by the presence of a madman armed with a bomb. At least here the threat is partly personified, and when the bomb explodes and the madman is sucked out into the darkness, it might seem that the ‘monster’ has been ‘overcome’: except that the real source of the nightmare is not the madman himself, as it would be if he were a true monster, but simply the fear of the plane crashing; and this remains until, with enormous difficulty and to universal relief, the plane is at last brought safely to the ground.
In fact this story of the hero’s deliverance from the nightmare of being trapped in some dark, enclosing space, threatening death is one of the oldest in the world. An obvious example is the tale of Jonah, who falls overboard an is swallowed by the ‘great fish’. For three days he lies in its cavernous interior, sure he is about to die:
‘the water encompassed me round about, even to the soul; the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottom of the mountains; the earth with her bars was round me forever’
Then miraculously his prayers are answered and the fish ‘vomited out Jonah on the dry land’.
Jonah does not, of course, kill his ‘whale’, which is why again this adventure cannot be considered strictly an Overcoming the Monster story. But this is only one of the countless tales of a hero swallowed by a monster, found in mythology and folk tales from Europe, North America, Polynesia, Japan and almost all over the world in many of which the hero does actually slay the monster from within.
Read on for a detailed breakdown of “The Seven Stories of Your Life”
What Can I Expect?
Here’s an outline of “The Seven Stories of Your Life itinerary.
PART I THE SEVEN GREAT STORIES OF YOUR LIFE
- Why Do We Need Stories?
- The Basic Stories
- Once Upon A Time
- Overcoming the Monster
- The Essence of the Monster
- The Purpose of the Monster
- Not Completely Human
- The Thrilling Escape from Death
- Rags to Riches
- The Dark Figures
- The Central Crisis
- The Dark Version
- Rags to Riches: Summing Up
- The Quest
- The Call to Adventure
- The Hero’s Companions
- The Journey
- The Trials
- Visit to the Underworld
- The Helpers
- Voyage and Return
The Dark Power: From Shadow into Light
PART II THE COMPLETE HAPPY ENDING
- The Twelve Dark Characters
- In the Zone
- The Perfect Balance
- The Unrealized Value
- The Drama
- The Twelve Light Characters
- Reaching the Goal
- The Fatal Flaw
PART III MISSING THE MARK
- The Ego Takes Over
- Losing Your Plot
- Going Nowhere
- Why Sex and Violence?
- Rebellion Against ‘The One’
- The Mystery
PART IV WHY WE TELL STORIES
- Telling Us Who We Are: Ego versus Instinct
- Into the Real World: What Legend are You Living?
- Of Gods and Men: Finding Your Authentic Story
- The Age of Loki: The Dismantling of the Self
Epilogue: What is Your Story?
About Peter de Kuster
Peter de Kuster is the founder of The Heroine’ s Journey & The Hero’s Journey
Peter is founder of the Heroine’s Journey and Hero’s Journey project where worldwide thousands of professionals shared their story of making money doing what you love. He wrote 50+ books. Peter has an MBA in Marketing, MBA in Financial Economics and graduated at university in Sociology and Communication Sciences.
IS THE HERO’S JOURNEY FOR YOU?
- You are a creative professional who is interested in developing yourself and your creative business.
- You are aware that there are no quick fixes. Learning is a journey that works when you are fully committed to it. A guide like Peter de Kuster can bring awareness and help you navigate, but in the end it’s you who is in charge of your growth.
- You want to learn more about how to tell yourself a more powerful story, learn about blind spots, and get feedback.
- You are curious and want to engage in an interactive learning journey with Peter de Kuster.
- You are motivated to work in-between journeys on yourself (e.g. working on questions that will help you develop new storytelling, mindsets, skills, and behaviors).
WHAT’S YOUR QUEST-ION?
The Hero’s Journey is all about your development. To make the most out of your journey with Peter, we ask you to prepare topics to work on with him. These topics can serve as a starting point for further in-depth exploration.
One Hour Virtual Coaching for Euro 150 (excluding VAT)
One Day Journey for EUR 1,200 (excl. VAT)
Two Day Journey for EUR 2,150 (excl. VAT)
Three Day Journey for EUR 2,950 (excl. VAT)
BOOK THE HERO’S JOURNEY
Who can sign up for The Hero’s Journey?
Creative professionals who wish to improve their storytelling, mindset(s) and develop their leadership skills.
What language do we speak in the journey?
Can I bring my own topics?
Yes, you get to choose your own topic.
Are journeys confidential?
Yes. Peter will not share anything that is discussed in the journey.
Where will the journeys take place?
Sessions will take place travelling with Peter a world city like Paris, Rome, Florence, Barcelona, Amsterdam, London, Antwerp, Venice, New York, Berlin, Madrid.
How do I sign up?
Send Peter an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
How do I pay?
After you booked The Hero’s Journey by sending an email to Peter you will receive an email with info how to pay.
How do I book and reschedule a journey?
Once we’ve received your payment, our Program Coordinator will book your journey. She will also support you with rescheduling journeys if needed.
What is your cancellation policy?
Individual journeys can be postponed up to one week before the journey.