Monday, Oct 26, 2009

The Hero’s Journey: The Ordinary World

To my delight, I learned that our very own Pam Halter has been discussing the Hero’s Journey on her blog. Please visit her at for additional insights into this fascinating topic.

Today we will be talking about the first point in the Hero’s Journey called “The Ordinary World.” When you start a story, it’s important to show your protagonist in his or her ordinary life. The reason for this is, first of all, so that the reader can get to know the protagonist before she begins her growth arc, and also, so that when your protagonist receives the Call to Adventure (the next point in the journey), there will be a distinct contrast between the world your protagonist is leaving and the world she is entering.

What is the Ordinary World? It is the world in which your character lives before the major occurrence that turns her ordinary world upside down. The ordinary world is the world in which everything is status quo, ho hum, just okay. It’s the world in which the heroine has a feeling that there should be something more in her life but she doesn’t yet know what it is.

Interestingly, in my life coaching practice, my clients come to me in their “ordinary world” but with a feeling that there should be something more in their lives. Although they usually may not realize it, this feeling of something more has been caused by the Lord’s nudging them to move into the next stage of their journey, the Call to Adventure.

As in real life, so in fictional life, there is a Call to Adventure. We will discuss this call in our next post. Meanwhile, please share your comments about your ordinary world, both in your fiction and in your real life.

Before I close, I thought you’d like to see some photos from one of my own many calls to adventure. 🙂 This past weekend, my husband and I celebrated our fortieth wedding anniversary at the beautiful Inn of Montchanin Village in Delaware, just outside of Wilmington. We cannot believe we have been married for forty years! It seems like yesterday that we were joined in holy matrimony. We praise God for this great blessing in our lives! 🙂

The foliage at Montchanin was gorgeous, as you will see from the photos.

View outside our room 

The main street in the village. No cars allowed.

A bountiful harvest! I’m going to paint this one! 🙂

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3 thoughts on “The Hero’s Journey: The Ordinary World

  1. The Ordinary World is important because it also gives us a chance to care for the hero and to learn what’s at stake. But it’s also important not to linger there too long. The reader wants to get going with the Adventure. That’s why they pick our book up, right?

    In my WIP, my heroine, Akeela, is on an early morning hunt. This is something she typically does. It not only provides food for herself and the old woman (Krezma) who raised her, it also provides an escape from Krezma’s sharp tongue. On about page 3, Akeela notices the forest animals are acting abnormally and from there, we are not in the Ordinary World anymore. Well, we are, but it’s not the *normal* Ordinary World.

    My purpose with all this is to introduce Akeela, create some sympathy for her situation and pique interest in what’s happening.

    Thanks, MaryAnn, for mentioning my blog. I always welcome new people. I just posted Tests, Allies and Enemies this morning. We’ll most likely catch up and pass me here because I only blog once a week.

    October 26, 2009 at 4:11 PM

    • Your story sounds fascinating,, Pam. Can’t wait to read it!

      I so appreciate your comments. Thanks for sharing. I do hope all of my readers will check out your blog and become fans. 🙂



      October 26, 2009 at 6:10 PM

  2. I just had time to read your and Pam’s posts on the Ordinary World. As I read the posts I am checking off in my head the things I did in my completed MS in this category and also thinking of ways to do this in my next story which is a sequel to the first. Great topic!

    November 13, 2009 at 4:14 PM