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The Hero's Journey | Write:Talk

WRITE:TALK is a blog series about the craft of Christian writing.
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How Do I Start A Story?

The Hero's Journey is a device used to create a plot structure that takes a protagonist on an unforeseen quest facing challenges, gaining insights, and returning home transformed. From Aesops Fables to Finding Nemo, many narratives follow this structure and have become stamped into our cultural DNA.

In this post, I'll show you how to use the Hero's Journey to work for you in creating your next great story.

This story system has been used across cultures for hundreds of years and found a following through Joseph Campbell's book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Campbell found 17 story beats in his definition, but this post will show a 12-step method popularized in 2007 by screenwriter Christopher Vogler in his book The Writer's Journey.

The 12 steps of the Hero's Journey are: 

  1. The Ordinary World. We meet our hero, the world, and a normal day.
  2. Call to Adventure. Will they meet the challenge of an Inciting Event? A disruption in the normal day.
  3. Refusal of the Call. They resist the adventure. Surely I'm not the one to go.
  4. Meeting the Mentor. A teacher arrives. Someone shows up to push the Hero into action.
  5. Crossing the First Threshold. The hero leaves their comfort zone- The Shire, the Skywalker farm, or Auntie Em's.
  6. Tests, Allies, Enemies. Making friends and facing roadblocks. A few obstacles must be faced and overcome.
  7. Approach to the Inmost Cave. Getting closer to our goal. But those pesky obstacles keep coming.
  8. Ordeal. The hero’s biggest test yet! The big battle, conflict, argument, and climax of the story.
  9. Reward (Seizing the Sword). Light at the end of the tunnel
  10. The Road Back. We aren’t safe yet.
  11. Resurrection. The final hurdle is reached.
  12. Return with the Elixir. The hero heads home, triumphant.

There are books written on this method that go into great detail about each step in the Hero's Journey. So if you want more on this method look at Joseph Campbell's book. If this outline is interesting to you, try it out. It helps you push your story along to the next step. Happy Journey!

"As iron sharpens iron, one sharpens another."

Proverbs 27:17


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