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Saturday, May 3, 2008

Another Structure Block: The Hero's Journey

Several years ago, I attended a college course which used Joseph Campbell's book, "The Hero with a Thousand Faces," as its textbook. Some of what it discussed was the "Hero's Journey," or in other words, the outline most of the world's storytellers have used to tell their stories. It was fascinating information, from a writer's standpoint, but it wasn't until I again found this journey described in Carolyn Wheat's "How to Write Killer Fiction" that I began to incorporate the information in my own story structures. So now, perhaps as a reminder to something you, too, have already studied, I'll share that journey (as described by Wheat) here. You need to know, however, that I can not fully describe what each step means--it would take, well, a book to do it--so I'll simply give you the outline and refer you to the above book or to Campbell's book.

  • Ordinary World
  • Call to adventure
  • Refusal of the call (usually)
  • Meeting the mentor
  • Taking the adventure
  • Crossing the first threshold into special world

(End of Arc One)

  • Tests
  • Tasks
  • Alliances
  • Enemies
  • Approach to the Inmost Cave

(End of Arc Two; May be midpoint)

  • Ordeal
  • Brush with death

(End of Arc Three--alternative midpoint)

  • Loss of an ally
  • Revelation of a turncoat (in Arc Three)
  • Confrontation with opponent (climax)
  • Death of a villain
  • Reward

  • The road back
  • Return to ordinary world with elixir
  • Coda: ordinary world transformed by the journey


C.L. Beck said...

Sounds intriguing. Maybe I'll have to get Wheat's book.

Thanks for posting the info!

Kike said...

Short animated movie about the Hero's Journey:


Annette Lyon said...

The Writer's Journey opened up my mind to new plot ideas as well. I love Christopher Vogler's book of that name, based largely on Campbell's work but tweaked for writers specifically.