So I decided to scuttle Full Autonomy, I gave myself plenty of time to think, and then I started again from the beginning.
I am a life long reader. I have never been one of those people who have to make time for reading because I'm always doing it. I am constantly working on a book. My usual spot is in bed, before I turn out the light. It might only be a few pages, but without a doubt, I am always doing it.
Now here's the thing. Just because I love the printed word doesn't automatically mean that I have the best instincts when it comes to writing. By being a voracious reader, I would say that I probably have better instincts about what makes a story work than the average Joe. From my own personal experience, however, I would recommend that anyone daring enough to attempt to write a book needs to find a roadmap for how to get there without getting lost.
Getting lost is exactly what caused me to mothball my first book. I had these characters that I really liked. I had these villains that I really didn't. I had a conflict that really excited me. And, I quite literally, got them all lost in a temperate rainforest on an alien planet. They're all there today, waiting until I am able to go and find a way for them to get to some kind of resolution.
I didn't want that to happen when I worked on my second book. Mistakes are good as long as you learn from them. I didn't want to lose another five years of my life on a book I couldn't finish. I don't want to think about what that would do to me. I aspire to write books, not tinker in my office and never had anything see the light of day.
I was aware of the Hero's Journey for a while. It's not a shrouded secret. I have even seen a high school Literature book that uses it as a way to teach archetypes.
The Hero's Journey is a pattern that was identified by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero With A Thousand Faces. The book is academic, but it reads surprisingly quick. However, if you don't have the stamina for a 400 page scholarly text, his insights have been dissected by others and are available all over the internet for anyone willing to spend a little time working with Google.
The bottom line is that the Hero's Journey served a staring place for me. I was able to identify some major things that needed to be in my story and I could work from there.