Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. In the beginning you setup your hero (or heroine) and his story, then you throw something at him that is a great source of conflict and takes him into a whole heap of trouble.
After facing many foes and overcoming various obstacles the hero saves the day and wins the girl.
You can find this kind of setup in nearly every movie or novel. It is a classic story-line and structure that has been around for centuries. The hero’s journey consists of three stages, the departure, the initiation into the special world and finally, the return to the ordinary world.
That’s a simplified version. In reality, professional writers use a multi-step structure for the Hero’s Journey. We’ll expand on that below.
How To Write An Adventure Story With A Hero’s Journey Structure
Step 1: Ordinary World
The first step of the Hero’s Journey is to introduce your hero in his ordinary world. This doesn’t necessarily mean he lives in the real world, it can be an “ordinary” life from his perspective.
It is a state of comfort for the character that he is reluctant to leave. You do not need to have a clear picture of this ordinary world, but you should have an idea of how it looks and feels to the character.
There are always hints that something special is coming soon. It is up to you to figure out what that something special could be. In a lot of stories, the hero begins his adventure with the desire to get away from the ordinary world and into a more exciting one.
Perhaps he’s sick and tired of living in his boring life, or maybe he wants to find new adventures in distant lands.
Video – The Hero’s Journey
Step 2: New World
The second step is to force your hero into a new world. In many cases this new world will be the opposite of where he started out.
Perhaps he has to go back into a school and undergo some kind of training to become a good soldier, he has to leave his family and friends behind and travel through foreign lands on an epic quest, or perhaps the world is about to end and the hero must save it at all costs.
Whatever type of new world you have your hero in, it should be completely different from the ordinary one. It is not enough to merely take him from one setting into another. It must be a completely new world with new rules and a new way of life that the hero has to adapt to.
Step 3: Allies
The third step is to throw your hero into a spectacular quest. He will have to find allies on his journey who will help him fight the forces of evil or simply get him closer to his goal.
Some allies may also need his help. Other times the allies may be more like enemies, if the hero is supposed to kill them or steal something from them.
Often in this step of the Hero’s Journey, your hero is not allowed to succeed alone. Sometimes he has to learn how to cooperate with others and work together as a team. This phase of the journey often involves a lot of teamwork as the characters get used to each other and begin working together towards their goal.
In some cases, a character is thrust into this step without any opportunity to choose his allies. In other stories there are some characters who will always remain as allies no matter what happens. But most of the time your hero will have to work hard to get and keep the allies he needs.
Step 4: Mentors
The next step in the Hero’s Journey is to find a mentor. This mentor is someone who will help your hero along his journey and teach him many important things that he will need later on.
Sometimes this mentor can be anybody: a teacher, a trainer, another hero, or even someone who is responsible for the hero’s family or friends.
Step 5: Tests
In the fourth step your hero will face tests or trials to see whether he is ready to succeed. In most stories this step is a crucial one and it’s sometimes necessary to have your characters having to struggle with their personal egos by proving to themselves that they are strong enough to win.
The best way to put this into your story is to make the hero fail in his quest. This way he will have to try again by facing another test of his resolve and knowledge.
If you want your hero to find a worthy weapon that will help him beat the great evil, he will not be able to get it without proving that he has what it takes.
Step 6: Reward
The final step is for the hero to be rewarded for all his hard work and persistence. The reward does not necessarily have to be something big. It could be something that is very personal and satisfying for the hero.
In many cases this could also be a “reward” that teaches the hero something important, like a new skill or knowledge.
But it will most likely be something big, like a special item or an important key to defeating the villain. If you’ve been using your structure correctly, your hero should now find himself in direct confrontation with his enemy.
Why Does The Odyssey Matter And How Can We Apply It Today?
The Odyssey is a very well-known structure for telling stories. It puts a very ordinary person into extraordinary circumstances. It takes a straight-forward hero from one setting to another and has him struggle against evil forces.
By making it into an epic quest, the structure has even more power to engage your reader into the story.
By following this structure, you can write a good, exciting story that will connect with your readers in an emotional way and help them relate to your characters and their struggles.
This is the key to great story. The reader can relate to the hero and put themselves in their place. We can feel the hero’s pain and experiences because we have challenges ourselves. We can understand the obstacles he faces and cheer him on to overcome them.
The reader wants to be the hero and it’s also a way of training the mind and spirit for real-life challenges that we all face. We can learn from stories to be courageous, a good leader, or to protect our loved ones and people who are less fortunate than we are.
The Odyssey is one of the most widely known and effective stories ever told. You can apply this story to your own writing by using it as the basis for an epic quest that your characters will have to face if they want to save the world.
Overcoming Obstacles: Heroes and Archetypes in Literature
Overcoming obstacles is absolutely crucial. It’s how the hero changes enabling him to overcome the ultimate evil.
The hero must face a series of challenges (obstacles) to get to his goal and to reach out and save his people from destruction. This is how he proves his worthiness and becomes the great leader he was always meant to be.
What is the hero’s journey according to Joseph Campbell?
Joseph Campbell expanded the Journey into 12 steps:
- Ordinary World
- Call To Adventure
- Refusal Of The Call
- Meeting The Mentor
- Crossing The Threshold
- Tests, Allies, Enemies
- Approach To The Inmost Cave
- Reward (Seizing The Sword)
- The Road Back
- Return With The Elixir
Why is the hero’s journey so popular?
It makes us care for the hero and what happens to him. It gives us a ticket to the world of the unknown so we can experience it and find out new things about ourselves.
The Hero’s Journey is still popular because it works so well. It’s timeless and has been around for thousands of years, providing a way for us to get to know ourselves better and become more rounded characters.
The hero is the one who makes things happen. He makes things happen for good or ill, but he makes them happen; he is active rather than reactive.
Do all stories follow the hero’s journey?
No, there are other ways to structure fiction writing, such as the three act structure. The hero’s journey looks at the structure of stories from a point of view that tells us it is not just about the characters’ individual journeys, but also about the story itself.
The important thing to remember is that while we can often tell when we are watching a movie or reading a book whether the hero has completed his journey yet, this does not mean he will become a better person. Heroes can fail in their journey.
How does the hero’s journey reflect real life?
The actual challenges a hero faces may be far more serious than the challenges we face in everyday life, but the idea is that our eventual triumphs in real life are still very important to us.
The hero’s journey is about a lot more than the external plot of your book or movie, though it’s vitally important that you have one of those.
The hero’s journey is about how you structure your novel and why you do certain things at certain points. It’s about taking us on an emotional and intellectual journey with our characters as they go through their lives and make choices that affect them for good or ill.
What does the hero’s journey mean?
In a nutshell, an ordinary man or woman is forced to take a journey to find something. In the beginning, they don’t want to go, they want to stay in their comfortable ordinary world.
Something happens to push them into the journey, often helped by an older mentor. Allies are gathered along the way and a villain places challenges in their way, each one more serious than the last.
The hero grows, overcoming weaknesses until he eventually overcomes the big villain and get what he needs to put the world right.