Writing

The Hero’s Journey: Introduction

There are many ways to structure your stories but one of the most common is known as The Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell identified this monomyth in his seminal book The Hero With A Thousand Faces, and it was later taken up by Christopher Vogler in The Writer’s Journey.

These great myths from all over the world are really about growing up. The stages the Hero journeys through bring him face to face with his own unconscious, forcing a reaction, forcing growth. In summary, the idea is to slay the dragon of your instinct to remain unconscious, to stay a child, and emerge into a Sacred Marriage of opposites, reborn as a whole person.

Vogler divides The Hero’s Journey into twelve stages grouped into three acts:

  • Act 1 is the separation or departure from the hero’s ordinary world: something happens which requires a response and the hero must do something – he must change.
  • Act 2 details the trials and victories on the hero’s path of initiation, and shows exactly what the hero does in response to the challenge.
  • Act 3 is the return and reintegration with society and shows the consequences of the actions taken, whether successful or not.

It’s important to remember – this is just a template. In truly great stories we are rarely aware of the structure as we watch a film or read a novel. Not all stories will need every stage and they don’t even have to happen in this order. With that caveat, here is the whole journey:

1. In Act 1 we meet the Hero in their ORDINARY WORLD

2. The Hero receives a CALL TO ADVENTURE

3. Reluctant to change, the Hero REFUSES THE CALL

4. But after MEETING THE MENTOR, changes their mind

5. The Hero rises to the challenge and CROSSES THE FIRST THRESHOLD

6. In Act 2 the Hero encounters TESTS in this Special World, making ALLIES AND ENEMIES

7. The Hero APPROACHES THE INMOST CAVE where

8. They experience the SUPREME ORDEAL

9. Leading to a REWARD where they Seize the Sword

10. In Act 3 the Hero is pursued on THE ROAD BACK to the Ordinary World

11. The Hero crosses the threshold and experiences another death followed by a RESURRECTION

12. Transformed, the Hero RETURNS WITH THE ELIXIR to share his Boon/Treasure with the Ordinary World.

Thor becomes a Hero
Thor becomes a Hero

In this series we’ll take a look at each stage of the journey using examples from the 2011 film Thor.

Part 1 begins in the best place to start, with Thor’s Ordinary World.

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3 thoughts on “The Hero’s Journey: Introduction

  1. The Hero’s Journey at its most basic bare bones essence is the story of the sun. Yes literally…our sun. The mythic heroes of antiquity were heavenly bodies which were anthropomorphized and the sun was the character around which all of them revolved. The sun begins its journey in the morning which is its call to adventure. It encounters special tests and trials when it reluctantly crosses the threshold into darkness and battles with Set. Just when you thought the sun was dead…it is resurrected in the morning as it makes its way back into the ordinary world.

    Liked by 1 person

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