The Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s Journey
August 2, 2016 No Comments » For Authors, Writing Advice J.K. Allen

heroThis week we have the last installation of my series on story structure. We’ll be taking a look at the Hero’s Journey, which is commonly used in fantasy and science fiction. But it can be adapted to other genres. Readers will connect with the familiarity and action that this structure provides, so let’s take a closer look.

The Hero’s Journey is divided into three acts, with the second act having two halves. The first act is for the setup of the story, the second for confrontations and trials, and the third act is for the resolution. Let’s take a closer look at each individual step along the way.

Act 1:

  • Ordinary World. We meet our hero in his ordinary world before the story problem is introduced.
  • Call to action. The hero is missing something in his life and desires for more. He receives a call for action.
  • Refusal of the Call. The hero is reluctant and averse to change, so he initially refuses the call.

Act 2A:

  • Meeting the Mentor. The hero meets a wise mentor who encourages them to take up the call.
  • Crossing the Threshold. The hero leaves the known world and enters the Special World and is committed to change.
  • Test, Allies, and Enemies. The antagonist starts setting up obstacles for the hero to overcome. The hero meets both help and enemies on the road.

Act 2B:

  • The hero is determined to push the idea forward and begins to work on new skills and gaining knowledge in order to succeed.
  • This is the first big step forward trying to solve the story problem that doesn’t go as expected. The plan fails.
  • The hero considers giving up but commits to working on a solution again. They must take possession of their reward and feel the consequences of their attempt, good and bad.

Act 3:

  • Road Back. The hero returns to the known world, recommitting to the cause.
  • The hero uses new insight and tools to try one final time, transforming themselves and winning the final battle against the antagonist.
  • Return with the Elixer. The hero has solved the story problem and returns to share it with the world.

The Resurrection is the climax of the story and involves a metaphorical death and rebirth of your hero. It is the point where all hope seems lost and there seems like there’s no way the hero can succeed until he is transformed by an epiphany he has. He becomes transformed and greater than his enemy and emerges victorious.

The Hero’s Journey is not only for fantasy and science fiction stories, so consider giving it a try for your next story. You can always incorporate these plot points into another story structure as well. What do you think of the Hero’s Journey story structure? Comment below and happy writing.

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J.K. Allen Julia Allen received her BA in Creative Writing and English from Michigan State University. She did her senior thesis in poetry under the tutelage of Diane Wakoski, but has been focused primarily on fiction as of late. Common writing themes that can be found in her work address identity and the type of strength that can be found in ordinary people. Julia is currently working on a Young Adult fantasy novel and can be found at local cafes in her hometown when writing, and painting, drawing, or reading when not.

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