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.