Hero’s Journey 101: Definition and Step-by-Step Guide (With Checklist!)
The Hero’s Journey is an age-old story structure that can be found in everything from Theseus and the Minotaur to The Lion King. In this post, we’ll show you how to make this classic plot work for you u2014 and summarize everything in a handy infographic.
What is the Hero’s Journey?
The Hero’s Journey, also known as the monomyth, is a common story structure. In 1949, Joseph Campbell coined the three stages of the hero’s journey, and in his book The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler refined Campbell’s original structure, defining 12 stages.
The 12 Steps of the Hero’s Journey
The Hero’s Journey is a story structure that applies across mediums and genres, and we’ve used the 1976 film Rocky as an example to show how it can be used outside of your average sword-and-sorcery novel.
1. Ordinary World
Before our Hero discovers a strange new world, we must first comprehend the status quo: their ordinary, mundane reality. It is up to this first leg to set the scene, introducing the Hero to readers and setting the stage for the rest of the story.
2. Call to Adventure
The Hero is confronted with a problem or challenge that they can’t ignore, which can take many forms, as Campbell points out in Hero with a Thousand Faces. The stakes of the adventure and the goals become clear.
Rocky: Call to Adventure:
The undisputed World Heavyweight Champion is Apollo Creed.
3. Refusal of the Call
In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker initially refuses to join Obi-Wan on his mission to rescue the princess because it is risky and there are perils u2014 such as spiders, trolls, or a creepy uncle waiting back at Pride Rock.
4. Meeting the Mentor
Mentors are people who help the Hero avoid making a fool of themselves by providing practical training, profound wisdom, or a kick in the pants. Mentors can take many forms, ranging from witches to hermits to suburban karate instructors.
Rocky: Meeting the Mentor
Mickey “Mighty Mick” Goldmill, a former boxer, sees potential in Rocky and begins training him for the fight to save his life.
5. Crossing the First Threshold
The Departure stage is when the Hero’s speed really picks up, and there’s no turning back now. Take a moment to re-assess your bearings before continuing into unfamiliar territory.
6. Tests, Allies, Enemies
Spencer, Bethany, “Fridge,” and Martha run into a herd of bloodthirsty hippos in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, while Marlin and Dory encounter three “reformed” sharks, are shocked by jellyfish, and are swallowed by a blue whale in Harry Potter.
7. Approach to the Inmost Cave
The “inmost cave” in Star Wars refers to the most dangerous location in the other realm, and it is almost always where the quest’s ultimate goal is located. This stage covers all of the necessary preparations for defeating the villain.
Rocky: Approach to the Inmost Cave
Rocky’s Inmost Cave is his own mind, where he fears he’ll never amount to anything, as evidenced by his butting heads with his trainer, Mickey, in his apartment.
The Ordeal is the main event of the second act, and if the Hero survives it, they will be transformed. It is sometimes not the climax of the story; there is more to come, but it can be thought of as the main event of the second act.
9. Reward (Seizing the Sword)
The “reward” is the object or knowledge that the protagonist has fought for throughout the journey, and once they have it, it usually has greater ramifications. Luke rescued Princess Leia and captured the Death Star plans. Dorothy uses the broomstick to escape the Wicked Witch’s castle.
Rocky: Reward (Seizing the Sword)
Rocky’s reward is the restoration of his self-confidence and belief in his ability to defeat the man who turned him into a monster.
10. The Road Back
After securing the reward, the Hero attempts to return to the Ordinary World, but more dangers (inconveniently) arise on the road back from the Inmost Cave.
Rocky: The Road Back
Rocky recognizes the difficulty he faces in the first few rounds of his fight against George Foreman, the legendary American boxer.
This is where you’ll get most of your near-death escapes, u00e0 la James Bond, as the Dark Side gets one last chance to defeat the Hero, which Vogler refers to as a “final exam” for the Herou2014 they must be tested once more.
Rocky vs. Wladimir Klitschko is a 15-round fight that takes both men to the brink of exhaustion.
12. Return with the Elixir
They must return with the “Elixir,” or the prize won during the journey; the story could end without the Elixir, but the Hero would then have to repeat the entire adventure.
Rocky: Return with the Elixir
Follow Bilbo Baggins through the 12 steps of his journey through the Ordinary World, which include: Meeting the Mentor, Tests, Allies, Enemies, Approach to the Inmost Cave, Ordeal, and Reward (Seizing the Sword).
Looking beyond the Hero’s Journey
The Story Structure is one way to outline a novel and dissect a plot, and there’s plenty of room to play within its confines once you understand the basics. Once you understand the basics, you can use and bend it in ways that defy reader expectations.
What are the 12 stages of a hero’s journey?
The Hero’s Journey Has 12 Stages
- Call To Adventure.
- Refusal Of The Call.
- Meeting The Mentor.
- Crossing The Threshold.
- Tests, Allies, and Enemies.
- Approach To The Inmost Cave.
What are the 5 Elements of the Hero’s Journey?
The Hero’s Journey in Steps
- The Ordinary World.
- The Call to Adventure.
- The Refusal of the Call.
- Meeting with the Mentor.
- Crossing the Threshold.
- Tests, Allies, and Enemies.
Which is the correct sequence of a hero’s journey?
Stage 1: Departure – The hero prepares for his quest during this stage. Stage 2: Initiation – This stage begins when the hero crosses the first threshold and ends when the hero begins the road back. Stage 3: Return – This stage begins when the hero begins the road back and lasts until the story’s conclusion.
What are the 8 steps of a hero’s journey?
There are eight terms in this set.
- Return with a gift.
- The call. A problem is presented, and the hero cannot remain in the ordinary world.
- The call.
What are the 3 stages of a Hero’s journey?
The Departure (or Separation), the Initiation, and the Return, according to Campbell, are the three main stages, each of which consists of several steps. During the Departure, the hero is introduced as they are presented with and prepare for their journey.
How do you make a Hero’s journey?
What is the best way to write a hero’s journey?
- First, create your hero. Forget about the traditional meanings of the word ‘hero,’ and let your imagination run wild.
- Then, give them a goal. Remember, stories exist on a literal level first and foremost.
- Finally, lay out the four quadrants of the story cycle.
What is the resolution in the hero’s journey?
When the main problem is solved, there is little room for the story to continue in an engaging way; when a story reaches resolution, conflicts are resolved in some way (for better or worse), and loose ends are sufficiently tied up.
What is crossing the threshold in the hero’s journey?
The Hero has finally committed to the Journey and is ready to cross the threshold that separates the Ordinary World from the Special World. Crossing the Threshold may require more than just accepting one’s fears, a map, or a swift kick in the rear from a Mentor.
What is the hero’s journey in Beowulf?
Beowulf and his fourteen brave men crossed the sea from Geatland to the Danes’ homeland, and Beowulf goes to the king to request permission to fight the monster on his land. Hrothgar grants Beowulf permission to fight the monster, as well as a feast to honor his brave decision.
What is the special world in the hero’s journey?
The hero enters the “special world” in the initiation section, where he must complete a series of tasks until he reaches the story’s climaxu2014the main obstacle or enemyu2014where he must put everything he has learned on his journey into practice to overcome the obstacle.
Why is the hero’s journey used?
Understanding our own hero’s journey and being able to recognize and respond to the call to adventure can help us become positive change agents for ourselves, others, and our community.
What are the 10 stages of a hero’s journey?
Steps in the Hero’s Journey
- Step 1: The Ordinary World.
- Step 2: The Call to Adventure.
- Step 3: Cross the First Threshold.
- Step 4: Trials, Friends, and Foes.
- Step 5: Magical Mentor (or the Mentor with Supernatural Aid)
- Step 6: Dragon’s Lair.
- Step 7: Moment of Despair.
Who coined the term hero’s journey?
The Monomyth, also known as “The Hero’s Journey,” is a term coined by Joseph Campbell that examines the stages of a hero who embarks on an adventure, faces a crisis, overcomes it, and returns victorious.