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At one point in your writer’s life, you’ve probably come across the term Hero’s Journey. Maybe you’ve even studied the present guidelines for storytelling and applied it to your own books–and yet, something about your own application felt off. You wanted to learn more, but didn’t know where to start.
You needed a resource that would simplify the hero’s journey stairs and all the other major details instead of complicate them.
You needed this post.
The Hero’s Journey is as old-time as humanity itself. And over the history of humanity, this single tale figure has risen over and over again. People from all cultures have seemed to favor its structure, and its familiar types of personas, typifies, relations, and steps.
If you want to build or strengthen your writing job and win a following of many happy readers, you crave this particular tool in your writer’s toolbox.
Let’s dive in.
Need aid utilizing The Hero’s Journey to your story outline and manuscript? Download this free Hero’s Journey worksheet now! Why I Love the Hero’s Journey( And You are able to, Too)
Like many young boys, I grew up desiring Star Wars. I specially adoration the music and bought the soundtracks at some phase in middle school. When my mothers weren’t home and I had the house all to myself, I’d slip one of the CDs into my stereo, crank the volume up, and blast the London Symphony Orchestra as it laid the epic footing for Luke Skywalker’s unforgettable furrow run on the Death Star. I even swung my limbs high in the air, pretending I was conducting the violins and timpani myself.
I know it’s nerdy to admit. But we adore what we love, and I love the music of great movies.
In a course, the Hero’s Journey is like a wonderful soundtrack. It follows familiar flogs and obeys age-old principles of human emotion. We can’t inevitably explain why a piece of music is so beautiful, but we can explain what it does and simply acknowledge that most people like it.
As I’ve come to understand Joseph Campbell’s groundbreaking monomyth theory, commonly known as the Hero’s Journey, I’ve descend deeper and deeper in love with it.
But it’s important to make sure you know what it is, and what it isn’t.
The Hero’s Journey isn’t a formula to simply follow, plugging in hackneyed attributes into cliched situations.
The Hero’s Journey also isn’t” selling out” and giving up your artistic intregrity.
However, the Hero’s Journey is a deep determined of steps, scenes, attribute types, typifies, and themes that tend to recur in tales regardless of culture or time period. Within these archetypes are nearly infinite deviations and unique views that are impacted by culture and date, reflecting wonderful traits of the authors and audiences.
Also, the Hero’s Journey is a process that your reader expects your story to follow, whether they know it or not. This archetype is hard-wired into our D.N.A. To expect anything different would be practically inhuman.
Let me set it this mode: To are aware of the Hero’s Journey is to know the human soul.
This may not make sense right now, but I promise it will as this post unfolds.
“ To are aware of the Hero’s Journey and its stairs is to know the human soul. Learn why in this post. Tweet thisTweet How to Use This Hero’s Journey Post
In the beginning, there were tales. These narratives were told by moms, soldiers, and musicians. They were inscribed on the walls of caves, into tablets of stone, and on the first sheets of papyrus.
This is how the Hero’s Journey was born.
In this post, I’ll walk you through the Hero’s Journey twelve paces, and teach you how to apply them into your story. I’ll also share additional resources to teach you some other Hero’s Journey crucials, like persona archetypes, epitomizes, and themes. By the end of this post, you’ll be able to easily apply the Hero’s Journey to your story with confidence.
And don’t skip out on the practice exercise at the end of the post! This will help you start to carve out the Hero’s Journey for your tale with a practical fifteen minute exercise–the best lane to genuinely retain how the Hero’s Journey runs is to apply it.
Table of Contents: The Hero’s Journey Guide
The Ordinary World The Call to Adventure The Refusal of the Call Meeting the Mentor Crossing the Threshold Trials, Allies, and Opponent The Approach The Ordeal The Reward The Road Back The Resurrection Return With the Elixir
What Is the Hero’s Journey?
The Hero’s Journey is the timeless combining of attributes, events, symbols, and relationships frequently structured as a string of twelve steps. It is a storytelling structure that anyone can study and implement to tell a story that readers will love.
First identified and defined by Joseph Campbell, the Hero’s Journey was theorizied in The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Today, it has been researched and taught by great intellects, some including Carl Jung and Christopher Vogler( writer of The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writer ).
This research has given us lengthy and helpful lists of archetypes, or tale parts that tend to recur in stories from any culture at any time.
And while some archetypes are common to a genre, they are still consistent within those genres. For instance, a fright tale from Japan will still contain many of the same archetypes as a horror tale from Ireland. There will certainly be noteable differences in how these archetypes are depicted, but the tropes will still appear.
That’s the ability of the Hero’s Journey. It is the skeleton key of storytelling that you can use to unlock the solution to virtually any writing trouble you are confronted with.
Why the Monomyth Will Make You a Better Writer
The Hero’s Journey is the single most powerful tool at your disposal as a writer.
But it isn’t a ” regulation ,” so to speak. It’s also not a to-do list.
If anything, the Hero’s Journey is diagnostic , not prescriptive. In other words, it describes a story “whos working”, but doesn’t necessarily tell you what the hell is do.
But the reason you should use the Hero’s Journey isn’t because it’s a great trick or tool. You should use the Hero’s Journey because it is based on thousands of years of human storytelling.
It furnishes a course to connect with readers from all different marches of life.
This is why tales about fantastical men from imaginary worlds can forge deep emotional connections with audiences. Hollywood knows this, and its best studios take advantage. As an example, The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien, contains mythical creatures like elves and hobbits. Yet it is Frodo’s heroic excursion of sacrifice and gallantry that outlines us to him like a magnet.
“ The Hero’s Journey is based on thousands of years of human storytelling. It reflects elements the human soul craves.
Learn how to easily apply the Hero’s Journey 12 Steps to your books in this post. Tweet thisTweet A Preview of The Hero’s Journey Steps
I can’t wait to guide you through The Hero’s Journey. Below is a list of all the topics that will help you master this in your volumes. Today, let’s places great importance on the creme de la creme of what allows the Hero’s Journey to impact the reader or listener: The Twelve Steps in the Hero’s Journey.
Construction sure to bookmark this page for your writer’s tour, since it will continually updated! The Twelve-Step Hero’s Journey Structure
In addition to its character archetypes, Campbell’s monomyth is probably best knows we its twelve stages of the hero. This structure is used by modern storytellers to create films that establish billions in revenue. If you’ve enjoyed a cinema by Pixar, Lucasfilm, or Marvel Studios recently, then you’ve probably assured the Hero’s Journey at work.
” The Twelve Steps of the Hero’s Journey” identify twelve acts, situations, or times that nearly every Hero suffers. These “steps” need not always appear in order, and they are unable( and often do) repeat themselves.
Remember: these steps are not always panoramas. They provide more as checkpoints or vanquishes, recognizing progress on a familiar track that all Heroes more or less take. Sometimes a story will be implemented by steps more than once( The Lion King, The Prince of Egypt ). Other day, a narrative will skip a stair, like when a Hero doesn’t have an explicit Mentor( Raiders of the Lost Ark ).
So let this structure serve as inspiration for your narrative projecting , not as a rigid principle that stifles your creativity.
Here are the Twelve Hero’s Journey Stages or Steps 😛 TAGEND Step 1. Ordinary World
The Hero lives his or their own lives in an otherwise peaceful and quiet world-wide. Nonetheless, danger comes from within( a world-wide that is broken or corrupted, like The Hunger Games, or from without, like The Lord of the Rings ).
Frequently the Hero is itching for some kind of adventure or alteration; this is why he or she is primed for what is to come. When the peril comes in Step 2, the Hero is ready to take the next step due to their eager, adventurous, or frustrated spirit.
Learn more: Hero’s Journey Step# 1: Ordinary World
Step 2. Call to Adventure
When the threat comes, or when a Herald( another popular Hero’s Journey Character Archetype) announced today peril is coming, the Hero must face the choice to stay or travel. Both alternatives have dire consequences, and the Hero must weigh the cost of both.
The Call to Adventure is usually a brief, sudden narrative beat. It can be in human form( The Hunger Games ), a letter( Harry Potter ), the breakthrough of an ancient treasure( The Lord of the Rings ), or an act of violence( Captain America: The First Avenger ).
But the Hero isn’t quite ready to go . . . yet.
Step 3: Refusal of the Call
At the beginning of a story, Heroes are human, just like you and me. That builds them frail, fearful, and very mortal. They often have relationships they don’t want to leave behind. And at this phase in the story, a Hero doesn’t realize they are a Hero yet( because no heroic steps have been taken !).
There is a moment of mistrust and indecision that besets almost every Hero. Whether it’s self-doubt, fear, or ignorance, many Hero hesitate before accepting the Call. This is one of the reasons the Hero’s Journey harmonizes with the human spirit–it’s something any reader can relate to.
Step 4. Meeting the Mentor
As long as humanity has existed, there has been an older generation ready to pass on what it knows to the younger. When the Hero cannot move on because they are not strong enough, both physically and psychologically, a Mentor steps in and provides the teaching and encouragement the Hero needs.
Due to its prevalence, the Mentor is a character archetype that requires much innovation. To avoid the” wise old bearded guy” trope, many narratives will make their Mentor questionable in decision( The Hunger Games ), or transform the Mentor into the Shadow( Batman Begins ). What the hell is you do to innovate the Mentor archetype, and the Meeting the Mentor Step of the Hero’s Journey?
Learn more: Hero’s Journey Step# 4: Meeting the Mentor
Step 5. Crossing the First Threshold
Armed with the proper training and support, the Hero sets out on their expedition. In order to signal that the Hero is departing the familiar, safe world-wide of the Ordinary, the narrator will have the Hero cross a boundary of some kind that seperates the new world from the old-fashioned. This is known as the Threshold.
Almost ever, the Threshold is physical. This style readers can see it in their psyches. Your Hero may cross a bridge or international borders; they may board a plane, develop, or automobile; they may climb a barrier or descend into a gulf. Nonetheless you illustrate this stair, make sure the journey’s beginning is clearly signaled by the Crossing of a Threshold.
Learn more: Hero’s Journey Step# 5: Crossing the Threshold
Step 6: Experiments, Allies, and Enemies
The middle of every heroic pilgrimage is filled with escapades of every kind. Usually, though, the Hero will encounter three types of people: a friend, an enemy, or something in between.
These encounters serve to develop the Hero as a persona. They simply cannot be heroic from the start, and must pay that title by assisting the weak, overcoming foes, and outliving a road of trials and series of tests that come their course. It’s important to create a variety of tests, as well, where the hero fulfills mysterious or treacherous personas, powerful monsters, or his/ her greatest panic. The hero must develop and alter as a result of all these tests.
Learn more: Hero’s Journey Step# 6: Tests, Allies, and Foe
Step 7: Approach to the Inmost Cave
Eventually the Hero must arrive at the destination, and that destination is often a fortress, cave, or dungeon crawling with ogres, foes, or traps. This will lead to the story’s climax, but the very best heroic journeys include a step before the big oppose. It’s called the Approach, and it gives your Hero( and their companions) a moment to delay, breathe, and truly weigh the stakes of what’s about to happen.
In this panorama, the Hero’s loyal companion might vacate them( at least for awhile ); it could be when the Shadow uncovers a brand-new weapon, minion, or threat; it could be when the Hero completes some final civilize, often depicted in film as a montage. There are many ways to force your Hero to stop and think, and your reader will thank you for doing it.
Learn more: Hero’s Journey Step# 7: The Approach
Step 8: The Ordeal
Every heroic journey aspects a unique Shadow with a unique “fortress,” and yours will, too. As your Hero participates this region, it’s time to clash swords!
There must be a scene where the Hero( and perhaps their comrades) sneaks in, strikes, parachutes down . . . whatever is true for the world and story you’re telling. And it is usually one of the most fun incidents to write. While this may not be the actual final battle, you crave the stakes to be high and utterly thrilling.
Learn more: Hero’s Journey Step# 8: The Ordeal
Step 9: The Reward
For their valiant efforts, the Hero must acquire the goal, yet the goal, as acquired, must be revealed to be inadequate. Usually this takes shape by the Hero reaching a crisis in their inner pilgrimage, where an inner need( for justice, serenity, righteousnes, etc) comes into conflict with the reality of the physical purpose and what it provides( like affluence, fame, solace, etc ).
The point of this step in the Hero’s Journey is that the Reward is never enough. As much as we believe they will, the physical rewards of life-time never satisfy as deeply as we hope. The Hero’s Journey reflects this universal human truth by continuing the story even after the Hero seem to have been get what they want.
Step 10: The Road Back
Another way to identify the Road Back could be the Response to the Reward, whether it is the Hero’s response( abhorrence, frustration, resolve, etc) or the Shadow’s( vengeance, change-of-heart, etc ). After the Hero acquires the goal, there must be a flight or return back to the Ordinary World.
The key to the Road Back is that it creates a false-hearted appreciation of armistice, safety, and finality. Because the Hero has apparently get what the fuck is wanted all along, the reader may be left with a sense of completeness, but not a deep thematic happiness. Some readers is likely to be wonder why the book isn’t complete yet.
Step 11: Resurrection
Everything in the Hero’s Journey contributes up to this climactic step: the Resurrection. In this incident, the Hero must face the story’s evil in an ultimate route, often in the actual final battle( after the fake-out ending in Step 10 ). Then the Hero must suffer a sort a death. It may not be literal, actual extinction; but it must be a death, regardless. During this death, the hero is often trapped somewhere, like a dungeon or the” belly of the whale .”
Then the Hero must be resurrected. This is not easy to pull off. It requires careful planning and revise when the details don’t add together precisely as you’d like. But through their own power, knowledge, righteousness, cleverness, or kindness to others, the Hero must deserve a resurrection that delivers them back into the fight.
Learn more: Hero’s Journey Step #11: The Resurrection
Step 12: Return With the Elixir
The conclusion of your Hero’s Journey necessitates some kind of return. This is a return to the original Ordinary World, or a return to the community of the world if it has had to relocate.
When they return, the Hero delivers back endowments and boons, an ultimate boon that usually takes physical shape, like food, rain, or security. Nonetheless, it also takes spiritual figure, as in hope, faith, and enjoy. The Hero must deliver these gifts back and discuss the matter with their home communities. It is fundamental for your reader’s experience of catharsis, and represents the apotheosis of the story’s themes and values.
Learn more: Hero’s Journey Step #12: Return With the Elixir
Inside the Steps: 5 Crucial Hero’s Journey Panoramas
One final style to do this is by noting checkpoints as they outline and/ or substantiate if and how the Hero’s Journey works in their story.
To distill this lengthy structure into an easy checklist, columnists need to learn how to plan and draft five scenes that are the building blocks of a well-written Hero’s Journey. I cover each of these in their own individual post, which I highly recommend you check out 😛 TAGEND
Scene One: ” Choice to Go”
Scene Two: “Initation”
Scene Three: “Task”
Scene Four: ” All Hope is Lost”
Scene Five: ” Hero Returns with the Ultimate Boon “
A Guide to Structuring Your Hero’s Journey
Structure is an extremely subjective matter to narrators. It is the root cause of the schism between so-called ” Planners”( those who write with a program) and “Pantsers”( those who write by the seat of their gasps ).
No matter where your preference lies, there are principles of storytelling that can benefit you on your mission to write a great story with a solid, timeless Hero’s Journey at its core.
In order to assist you apply the Hero’s Journey Twelve Steps to your story, consider these three( practical !) the concept of solid narrative arrangement 😛 TAGEND 1. Divide Your Story Into 3 Acts
How does Three-Act Structure overlap with a Twelve-Step Hero’s Journey? It’s actually not that complicated. Typically, the Three-Act Hero’s Journey looks like this.
Act 1= Steps 1 through 5
The Beginning of your tale shows the reader the Hero’s Ordinary World, their Call to Adventure and Refusal, the foreword and early work of the Mentor, and the Hero’s” Choice to Go ,” or Crossing of the Threshold.
Act 2= Step 6
Yup. All of Act Two, the Middle Build, is a single Step: Tests, Allies, and Adversary. This is why it’s essential to realize that this Step uses the entire twelve-step structure within itself, and must throw the Hero to the test a number of period on their expedition toward the final goal.
Behave 3= Steps 7 through 12
The Ending of the story begins when the Hero pauses to Approach the final Ordeal. It then continues to the major Ordeal, the Reward and consequential false-hearted culminating, any Road Back that may be involved, the ultimate showdown ensuing in Resurrection, and the Hero’s triumphant Return with the Elixir.
2. Use Word Counts to Plan Your Drafting
There are benefits to generating an idea of how many words and chapters you should be writing. If that sounds like too much planning for you, consider this question: Do you like wasting occasion?
I don’t. And I’d prefer to waste as little as possible. That’s one of the great benefits of planning your writing with word countings in mind.
Knowing a bumpy appraisal of how a Hero’s Journey could break down by the numbers can help you plan, write, and edit a fiction with a steady and strong speed. And simultaneously, it’s likely that this road map will give you even more motivation to finish your story.
You might also consider devoting certain percentages of your time to the Beginning, Middle, and Ending of your book, which I’ll cover more in a future post.
3. Specifically Plan Your Steps
Once you’ve made upon a rough word counting calculate, you can plan your steps quite deliberately. As you complete this process, you can alter your appraisal as well.
With this kind of plan in place, you can determine when it’s time to move on to the next step as you draft. This isn’t to “follow the rules,” but to stay attuned to the kind of narratives that readers love and have adoration for thousands of years.
With this in mind, you’ll be able to use the Hero’s Journey as a guide that supplies a massive canvas for you to freely paint upon–and one that will come in extreme convenience as you study and apply the Twelve-Step Hero’s Journey.
Hero’s Journey Examples
Learning these concepts one-by-one is certainly useful, but might not help you find the strength in a well-told, well-structured Hero’s Journey story.
In order to really master the Hero’s Journey, you can explore popular books and films that use these steps and archetypes with expert artistry.
These three lessons were a turning point in my writing career while studying the Hero’s Journey 😛 TAGEND Instance# 1: Star Wars
Perhaps the most obvious Hero’s Journey lesson, Star Wars contains a feast of archetypes and structural options that will help us understand Campbell’s work in action.
As an cocktail, I explore some Hero’s Journey crucials in Star Wars “in ones own” post. In it, I discuss topics like the ways Luke Skywalker is an ideal Hero, and how on his jaunt, Luke faces the villainous Darth Vader, the story’s Shadow. And who could forget the mysterious supernatural facilitate: Luke’s Mentor, Obi-wan?
Whether you love or hate George Lucas’s space opus( and/ or what Disney has done with it since 2012 ), the cinemas of the Star Wars cosmo are excellent examples to study and learn from.
Example# 2: Toy Story
Few Hollywood studios regularly implement the Hero’s Journey to incredible result more than Pixar. In its first jaunt, Toy Story, Pixar successfully told two Hero’s Journeys for both Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear. In subsequent sequels, it would recapture the magical, taking its cowboy supporter along a sequence of heroic stairs that resonant with the human experience.
For example, Woody begins in an Ordinary World in which he comfortably runs Andy’s bedroom; he’s Called to Adventure when a brand-new doll arrives and challenges him for the role of Andy’s favorite doll; and he Refuses the Call by choosing a crooked track, in which he attempts to have Buzz knocked into a corner where Andy won’t meet him.
As you can imagine, the story continues from there, with Woody and Buzz split between two worlds, and our heroes selections seem to perfectly follow the Hero’s Journey as they attempt to reunite with Andy and forge a relationship that isn’t purely antagonistic.
Beloved by generations of audiences, Toy Story is an ideal work to focus on as we study Campbell’s work.
I’ll dislocation the Hero’s Journey Twelve Steps in this iconic cinema in a future post.
Example# 3: The Hunger Games
The dystopian genre is filled with unlucky heroes who “ve realized that” their world-wides are broken, only to rise up against invincible forces. In one of the more popular of these narratives, Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, follows a dirt-poor girl on a seeking to oust a tyrant and bringing justice to Panem. As you certainly expected, The Hunger Games is a perfect case study of the strength of story to deliver a fantastic world-wide into stark reality.
For example, Katniss Everdeen, the story’s hero, follows in the footsteps of many other protagonists by suffering a Magic Weapon, or object that seems to heighten the hero’s powers and reveal his/ her greatness.
Once out of her consolation zone, she suffers several Experiments and Experiments, including the lengthy Task of subsisting the Hunger Games themselves. Along the direction she participates a Belly of the Beast, or cave, where she must nurse her collaborator Peta back to health. And in the story’s gripping opinion, Katniss must subsist an invasion of Creatures of Nightmare as the “Mutts” swarm the Cornucopia where she and Peta must make their last stand.
These situations, represents, and more appear all throughout the Hunger Games trilogy, and I’ll share exactly how these Hero’s Journey crucials apply in a future post.
Additional Examples of The Hero’s Journey
These three narratives are by no means the only examples of the monomyth executed to perfection. Some other tales great for analyzing the Hero’s Journey could include 😛 TAGEND
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling Pixar’s Ratatouille Pixar’s WALL-E Back to the Future The Great Gatsby Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen Alien and Aliens( be determined by Ridley Scott and James Cameron, respectively) And more!
BONUS! Additional Hero’s Journey Resources
Applying the Hero’s Journey the measures taken in order to your tale will connect with readers on a human tier. Nonetheless, that’s not the only insight you can learn from the Hero’s Journey. If you’re up for it, learn more about why the Hero’s Journey touches readers with these bonus essentials.
Hero’s Journey Character Archetypes
Every story begins with great attributes, and the Hero’s Journey is the study of recurring character kinds, known as archetypes.
A character archetype is a character type that serves a specific role in a narrative and tends to reoccur in myths, legends, and stories across genres, cultures, and time periods.
In order to be properly implemented, a character archetype must fulfill its specified purpose while exhibiting new, innovative peculiarities. The report contains several important character archetypes used in heroic storylines–especially these five: hero, shadow, loyal retainer, mentor, and threshold guardians.
Learn more: Hero’s Journey Character archetypes that will stir your tale awesome
5 Hero’s Journey Symbols to Use
A Hero’s Journey Symbol, also known as a symbolic archetype, is an object, locating, or image in a tale that contains more than one functional mean. It has both a physical meaning in the narrative world and a thematic meaning for the reader to interpret.
Within your Hero’s Journey incidents and relationships, you can use objects and small-scale events to add even more thematic relevance to your story.
Read more about five effective Hero’s Journey marks here 😛 TAGEND
5 Hero’s Journey Themes to Explore
A Hero’s Journey Theme is a relationship between two opposite suggestions or components. Throughout the tale, the pros and cons of each idea/ component are explored, with the Hero inducing high bets alternatives in the context of this conflict-filled relationship. The opinions the reader comes to about these relations are its themes.
Read about five favored Hero’s Journey topics in these posts 😛 TAGEND
It’s Time to Tell Your Hero’s Journey
Star Wars, Toy Story, and The Hunger Games are just three members of a near-limitless collection of narratives, new and old, that use the Hero’s Journey arrangement and archetypes to thrill readers.
The next, I hope, will be written by you!
Use the Hero’s Journey Twelve Steps to outline, write, and/ or edit your book–and touch all your readers on a human level.
Need assistance utilizing The Hero’s Journey to your story drawing and manuscript? Download this free Hero’s Journey worksheet now!
Have you utilized the Hero’s Journey to your stories before? How did it run? Let us know in the comments.
There’s no way to write a full Hero’s Journey novel in simply fifteen minutes. But you can plot out your next story according to the Hero’s Journey, which is something that I foster you to do.
For today, invest fifteen minutes writing a story proposition that( 1) you’re eager to write, and( 2) you can use to outline the Hero’s Journey. Then, if you’re up for it, journal about how the twelve steps in the Hero’s Journey could apply to this story idea.
When you’re done, share your ideas in the comments below. Be sure to leave feedback for your fellow novelists, as well!
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