As a fiction writer and book reviewer, I’ve always been intrigued by the patterns that create good stories.
One of the most influential and timeless structures I’ve encountered is the Hero’s Journey. This framework appears in countless written works. It isn’t just a storytelling tool; it’s a lens through which we can view our own lives and adventures.
Let’s delve into each of these 12 stages, exploring their significance and how they can enrich your story writing:
12 Stages of The Hero’s Journey
1. Ordinary World
This stage is where we first meet our hero, in their regular, everyday life. This creates the baseline that sets the stage for the adventure and helps readers form a connection with the hero.
2. Call to Adventure
Here, the hero encounters an incident or challenge that initiates their journey. This moment disrupts the hero’s normal life and presents an opportunity or a dilemma that they can’t ignore.
3. Refusal of the Call
Often, heroes are reluctant to face the unknown. This stage adds depth to the character, making their eventual acceptance of the adventure more meaningful.
4. Meeting the Mentor
The hero encounters a mentor figure who provides guidance, wisdom, or items needed for the journey ahead.
5. Crossing the First Threshold
The hero fully commits to the journey, leaving the familiar behind and stepping into the unknown. This decision marks the end of the hero’s life as it was and the beginning of something new.
6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies
As the hero progresses, they encounter challenges that test their resolve, character, and skills. They also meet allies who will aid them and enemies who will oppose them. This stage is about growth and learning in the face of adversity.
7. Approach to the Inmost Cave
This metaphorical ‘cave’ represents a dangerous place. It can be the source of the hero’s fears or the location of their objective. It’s a preparation phase for the ordeals ahead.
This stage is a moment of crisis. It can involve confrontation with the antagonist, a fear, or obstacle. This is often a point of ‘Death and Rebirth’ for the hero, leading to profound personal growth.
9. Reward (Seizing the Sword)
After surviving the ordeal, the hero gains some form of reward. This could be a physical item, knowledge, reconciliation, or self-realization. This ‘Elixir’ is what the hero sought, though the journey isn’t over yet.
10. The Road Back
The hero must now return to the Ordinary World. This journey back can be just as perilous as the journey out, often involving a chase or a race against time.
The hero undergoes a final test, where they must use everything they’ve learned. This is the hero’s final moment of transformation – a true test of their character and abilities.
12. Return with the Elixir
The hero returns to the Ordinary World, but they are transformed by their experiences. They bring back some form of ‘Elixir’. It could be a literal object, knowledge, wisdom, or an experience that can benefit themselves and others.