The Hero's Journey
An often overlooked writer’s tool in creating a compelling protagonist amidst a riveting villain and a rich backdrop.
As a fiction writer, it is imperative to give your hero a motivation that has a deep pathos. When you compromise this premise, the story in its entirety will be a lacklustre affair. Your readers will be lost and it will be a struggle to find their way navigating the labyrinth of your story.
Jason Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey or the so-called Monomyth is the quintessential story structure of the lead character’s pain and eventual triumph. As the story is traversed, the unequivocal narrative intent is to make each step of the journey compelling no matter how seismic the plot is or not.
The summarized version has a concise 12-step guidelines according to the Oracle Education Foundation Library
Ordinary World: This represent the hero’s normal life.
Call to Adventure: The hero is presented with a challenge or dilemma that challenges him or her to take action.
Refusal of the Call: The main character struggles to accept the adventure.
Meeting with the Mentor: The protagonist meets a teacher that will guide him or her with the endeavours.
Crossing the First Threshold: The hero crosses the boundary between the ordinary life to the quest.
Tests, Allies, Enemies: This includes the challenges, struggles, and the meeting of allies.
Approach: The hero falls and tries again.
Ordeal: The main character experiences mortality and tremendous pain.
Reward: Success after the struggle.
The Road Back: The hero goes home to his ordinary life.
Resurrection Hero — The final test that will put all the knowledge and strength into practice.
Return with Elixir: The hero brings the elixir of wisdom to the people.
This structure is often neglected but it has upstage both mainstream media and the independent creatives. In classical times, writers utilize this concept to popularize folklores and fairy tales. In our contemporary era, George Lucas heavily relied on this framework to structure Star Wars, to the point of rewriting the whole script of A New Hope to adhere in a fundamental myth as it soars into commercial success.
Whether your goal is to create something allegorical or literal, this proven scheme will guide your story into a full and cohesive anatomy. Your hero’s journey is not merely about thematics and world-building, the cadence of moving forward and taking a step back is critical for your audience to be invested.
The original Hero’s Journey consists of 17 ultra-detailed stages. Dan Harmon adapted this framework into the Story Circle, as a guide in his ever popular TV series, Rick and Morty. It can be predictable but the storytelling magic lies on how the writer manipulate the circle to create an enthralling narrative.