Those of you who write fiction have very likely heard of The Hero’s Journey. This tool for creating fiction is based on research conducted by Joseph Campbell and others on the similar elements in all mythic structures and in all literatures.
The Hero’s Journey consists of a group of events in a story that represents the hero’s journey toward wholeness. In each story, the hero (or heroine) goes through specific steps that comprise the path of transformation from weakness to strength, from fragmentation to wholeness.
In his popular book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell examines the theory that all world literatures contain myths that share a fundamental universality he calls the “monomyth” or single myth. Campbell describes this monomyth as follows: “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
The hero’s journey involves a series of stages through which the hero must travel on his way to wholeness. The first of these is the call to adventure. If the hero accepts this call, he must then proceed to the next stage of the journey, which is the road of trials. If he survives this road of trials, he may earn a great gift which usually involves a transformation in his self-awareness or knowledge about himself.
At this point, the hero must choose whether he wants to return to his ordinary world with his newly acquired self-awareness. If he decides to return, he will face obstacles along the way. If he succeeds in returning, he will use his new self-awareness to better his world.
In the next several posts, I will explore each stage of the hero’s journey. For now, I will leave you with a simple chart that names each of these stage.
As you study this chart, think of how you may apply each stage of the hero’s journey to your own story.
5 thoughts on “The Hero’s Journey: Introduction”
I’ve been going through The Hero’s Journey on my blog for the last several weeks. I’m using a book called The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler, who goes more indepth with each step.
We’ve had some great discussion with it, as all the participants on my blog write fantasy.
But The Hero’s Journey works for every movie and book out there, no matter the genre. Vogler notes that you don’t have to include every step and you can switch them up, if needed. But since this works for all the best movies and books, why not learn it and use it? So, that’s what we’re doing.
I look forward to seeing how we handle it here on The Write Power!
October 23, 2009 at 7:24 AM
Oh, my, Pam! I had no idea. So sorry. Please send me the link to your blog so that I may post it here. It will be great for us to have another resource for our discussion.
October 23, 2009 at 8:39 AM
This is simply wonderful, Mary Ann, and I am adding all of this to my ‘Favorites.’ Thank you so very much, and I will be waiting for the subsequent excerpts.
October 23, 2009 at 8:14 AM
You are welcome, Skye. Be sure to check out Pam’s blog as well. She will be sending me her link.
October 23, 2009 at 8:47 AM
Thanks maryann. This is something that I have studied parts of in various classes, but need to really dig into more. I’ll check out Pam’s blog, too.
October 24, 2009 at 6:27 PM