A Basic Introduction to the Hero’s Journey

So, what is the hero’s journey?

Well, it’s basically a common path that the vast majority of protagonists follow in popular fiction. There are a series of steps, including: introducing the hero’s world, call to action, learning from a mentor… all through to final battle.

Once you start looking for them, you will be able to find some or all of the steps present in almost every book you read and film you watch.

Despite containing the word ‘hero’, the hero’s journey does not apply only to fantasy stories with sword wielding swash-bucklers. It might be helpful to replace the word ‘hero’ with ‘protagonist’ if you find it distracting.

Each of the steps can be presented in an infinite number of ways, appropriate to your character, genre, plot and style.

For example, when you think ‘call to action’ you might think of a little girl running into a village shouting that a village elder has been seized by a dragon. Or it might be a Jedi saying a boy is needed for a revolution. But it could just as easily be a letter of acceptance (to a wizarding school, a regular school, a new job, an international expedition, etc), a friend confiding that they think their spouse is having an affair, a dog found dead in the road, or whatever.

And a final battle could be a sword or light-saber fight with running and jumping, sure, but it doesn’t have to be. It could be a public speech, out-witting a murderer with words, putting all the clues together, confronting an abusive parent or simply stubbing out a cigarette. It all depends on context and what matters to your character.

Read about the origins of the hero's journey or go straight to my interpretation of the hero's journey steps.


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