How to Write a Classic: The Hero's Journey
Updated: Apr 8
In honor of May the 4th, we have decided to lay out an epic author's basic template, as described by Joseph Campbell. Count how many of your favorite stories fit this template and then try crafting your own. We'd love to hear what you come up with.
Image Courtesy of Wikipedia
The Hero's Journey
1. The Ordinary World
Welcome to your world. Fill it with whatever you like! Monsters, dinosaurs, space ships, crazed goblins, you name it. The important thing is that there is peace, at least for our unsuspecting hero. Let your hero be a bit lazy or arrogant. They'll have time to grow. Trust me.
2. The Call of Adventure
All of a sudden... BAM! There's trouble in town and, by accident or not, our unsuspecting hero is thrown headfirst into the middle of everything. Still, the worst part is that it could all have been their fault from the right perspective. What do you think?
3. Refusal of the Call
Our hero declares that they are still not ready to save anybody or anything but, regardless of their claims, the very first steps of their incredible adventure have begun. Strap in! Thing's are definitely going to get worse better they get any better for our character.
4. Meeting the Mentor
"*removes hood* Hello there!" Our hero is no longer alone or left without a chance. They now have guidance from a wise wizard, ghost, whatever you want. The important part is that this mentor figure would certainly be missed if they were to be lost along the way...
5. Crossing the First Threshold
It's not the biggest obstacle of the tale but it's that pivotal moment when our protagonist gets a taste for heroism and success. Guess what. They like it. A new desire to save the day is born.
6. Tests, Allies, Enemies
More obstacles are thrown in the path of our budding hero but with the help of their newfound confidence, their beloved mentor, and some ragtag pals picked up along the way, the hero's journey continues towards its epic climax. Have fun in here. This is the rising action of the story, building suspense and tension as we approach the darkest parts of your tale.
7. Approach to the Inmost Cave
It's been a long and tiresome journey and it's not over yet. Our team is right on the doorstep of whatever hub of evil you've chosen for your world. Whether a giant planet blower-upper or the terrifying castle of an evil sorcerer, even the strongest hero would be wary of this place. Pure evil lurks inside and waits for us patiently.
8. The Ordeal
Uh oh! That last obstacle didn't go quite as planned. Hope seems lost. Characters have fallen away. Our baddies and villains have the upper hand. What will we do? Can our hero still save the day? Tune in next week to find out.
9. Reward (Seizing the Sword)
Yep, they won. But was that really the final challenge? That seemed too easy...
10. The Road Back
Our hero is ready to return home now that everything on their hero checklist has been successfully completed. They see the light of home at the end of the tunnel but with every step they take towards it, the light seems to move further away. Maybe we haven't seen the climax yet after all. But how could things get any worse?
The final challenge reveals itself! It's big. It's bad. It's unstoppable... but not for a hero of the highest caliber. Lucky for us, our protagonist has grown throughout their journey into one of the greatest heroes of literary history. They rise to the challenge and, mustering all that they've learned along the way, finally save the day. Can I get a "Huzzah"?
12. Return with the Elixir
The antagonist of our tale has been thwarted and our protagonist, now a full-blown hero, turns around and begins the trek back to where they came from. Homeward bound are we.
Back where it all began, things are back to relatively normal with one exception: thanks to your character's epic Hero's Journey, everything is just a little bit better for everyone. Thank you, brave hero. Now let's do it again three more times and make it a trilogy.
Love a good story? Well, so do we! Our virtual weekly classes, frequent online Dungeons & Dragons games, and our STEM fantasy summer camp are gathering grounds for storytellers of all ages. Won't you join us, hero? Talk to us today about what adventures are right for you or your young ones at www.thestoryschool.org/contact