Joseph Campbell is justly famous. For in his study of mythology, he realized that many of the great myths had the same structure behind them, a structure tied to "coming of age" tales the world over. Each culture, no matter how far distant in time or distance from our modern society, had the same themes and myths in their coming of age and hero tales (Hero tales are about coming of age and seizing power and agency for ones self at their very heart).
But while these tales still resonate within the cultures that use them to help their children grow up, our modern society has eschewed them almost entirely. Instead, we try and build that structure into our movies, so that the tales we tell within them resonates in the audiences that watch them. But in separating us from our own mythic tales, the tales we tell in the movies we see are flawed, and sometimes fatally so, by not including the normal parts of the mythic tales that make the tales themselves interesting. Christopher Vogler, himself a screenwriter, applied the Hero's Journey to the movies he saw and the ones he was writing to help make the tales more interesting and more fulfilling to the audiences that watched them.
This book is the result of that exercise, with a clear explanation of the parts of the mythic journey, how each is important to the tale, and how modern movies both get right, and mess up the hero's journey in their tales. And not just old Hollywood movies, but new ones like the Lion King, Finding Nemo, Dances with Wolves, Pulp Fiction, The Full Monty, Titanic, The Wizard of Oz, and of course, the most famous movie of all to use the Mythic Hero's Journey: Star Wars.
But even insofar as this book goes to explore the Hero's Journey, it's just that, a journey for men, used to get the hero into the outside world. The Journey to becoming a modern, fulfilled and adult woman is very different, and is often more of an internal journey than the external one of the male hero. But that isn't to say that women cannot have a hero's journey. The film Titanic is definitely based on the Hero's Journey, and the one on that journey is Rose, the main female character. Her lover, Jack, becomes a mentor on that journey for her, but he himself doesn't really change as the hero must during the journey. He is merely the catalyst for Rose's own journey of self-discovery and how to lighten up and find happiness.
I found this book invaluable as a writer, because most adventure stories are really all about discovering how to be a hero, even if it is only in small ways, and these are tropes and inspirations writers can use to make their stories of journeys of discovery and adventure better. He lists the different points on the journey and how filmed movies both made use of those moments, and how they got it wrong, and what he suggested for a better movie, but wasn't always listened to.
Moreover, he tells why these moments are important to the structure of both the mythic journey and to the story you are writing. Because if you use the Hero's Journey and get it right, the story will better resonate with your audience, who may not have the same connection to the Hero's Journey in cultural tales, but who will still have encountered them in our own modern society, through both movies and legends of other cultures (tales like those of Hercules, or modern-day re-envisionings like the Thirteenth Warrior). They show where modern tales have done it wrong, and how to make those tales work right to have them resonate in the same way as the mythic Hero's Journey. But it's not a template bolted in steel. it's a guideline rather than something you must follow slavishly.
"The Writer's Journey" is a book that gives you a great deal to think about, and a guideline to follow if you feel that your story is somehow lacking in something to make it interesting, memorable and most importantly, satisfying as a tale. Following the guideline can make your stories better and make it resonate more with readers. While not guaranteeing that this will fix all the problems in your narrative, it is certainly something to think about when you are planning your stories to give them greater impact and accessability. I found it very interesting, and will certainly recommend the book to other writers.