Golden Fleece vs. Rite of Passage
I am forever trying to figure out the difference. I think I write GF, but they always seem to have a ROP (or two) in them as well. So I've just followed the rules for both and maybe I've gotten away with it. :-)
But there is always a trip to be taken in everything I write. I'm a traveler -- I've driven all over this country so I may as well use it.
Golden Fleece is more of a journey story, it is physical character change for the character. The character starts in one place, travels, to either get to another place or to return home figuring out their deepest capabilities that they had at the beginning of the story. It took an entire journey for the character to figure this out. Rites of Passage takes a similar beat, but it is more of the character beginning with a set of values that they are wrong about, and by the end of the story their value change.
ROP and GF can be combined together to use the journey story to show the character changing their values. It's been known that ROP and GF are similar in that fashion. However, GF uses a distinctive goal (golden fleece) or MacGuffin to get the character on their journey immediately to only find out they have learned many things along the way and they will use what they have learned to accomplish their goal in the story.
I hope this helps.
Yep, like I said, I combine the two every time. :-)
There is a MacGuffin to set off the journey, and a total change of values and such by the MC who finally grows up to accept their flaws and discover how to use them to their advantage.
I forgot to mention that ROP can happen in one location without the character moving to another location, which can make an intimate drama.
@annieb I forgot to add in that ROP can happen in one location which can make it into an intimate drama. ?
I think possibly the presence of a journey don't automatically make it a GF. Even though the journey is a crucial part of the story, and the MC learns stuff along the way.
@annieb True! I feel that GF is more goal-oriented and shows the physical character change that the audience can track. Very much like ROP.
The way I like to distinguish the different genres is to look at the three key elements of each. For example, a Golden Fleece story has a road, a team, and a prize. It's in the prize that we can see a character's growth, and how he or she learns the theme. They might set out on a journey to gain something, but if they end up achieving it or getting it, this prize is usually not what they actually need. For example, in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the prize is the Holy Grail. Of course, that is what Indy and his father want to find, but that is not the true prize... the true prize is the mending of the father/son relationship, which is reflective of the B Story. The MacGuffin is the Grail, but the actual prize is something much different... it's what the hero needs to be complete. The same is true in sports movies that are Golden Fleece stories... the team wants to win the pennant or first place or whatever, but they learn something deeper... take a look at a great film like Remember the Titans to see this in action!
A Rites of Passage story has the elements of a life problem, a wrong way of addressing the problem, and finally acceptance. This is, in a sense, a journey as well, but it's a very internal one, and rather than seeking an object or a prize, the hero is seeking an answer to the problem that plagues him or her. As the hero tries to solve it in his or her own way and fails, he or she learns the theme by finding acceptance of the real way to address the life problem, which is not the way they wanted to solve it, but it is what they needed to confront and realize to be whole.
So, in a sense, they seem similar, but I find that it helps to look at the three elements of each genre to get the best understanding.
@cory Thanks, but that kind of just restates what Blake has been saying all along.
So I guess my real question is: "What do you do when you have all elements from both genres?"
My current WIP has the MC rescuing someone, who in turn rescues her from the life problem. This involves multiple journeys across the country and culminates with the MC accepting her flaws and discovering her strengths to become whole, but also the prize, because she was rescued by her rescuer, is a MacGuffin.
I suspect the easy answer (and probably the right one) is to choose one. :-)
It'll probably be ROP. She's turning 40 during this journey for the "prize." She doesn't really know she has a life problem.
...on the verge of a final draft, AnnieB
Hi, @annieb! Sorry I didn't reply sooner. Oops! Without knowing all of the story details, I would also think about how in a GF story, the prize isn't what they are seeking; this could be the realization there, but if you say she is not sure she has a life problem of turning 40, then it most likely is a ROP story. They might go on a physical quest, but what are they trying to achieve? I think it could possibly be a Mid-Life Passage, a subgenre under the ROP genres. She might not know she has a life problem, but she does, and perhaps going on this journey is her "wrong way" of fixing it, until at last, the person she rescues helps her realize the "right way" to find acceptance.
I hope this helps a bit! Good luck!