The hero’s journey pops up in virtually every story ever told. So it’s important to get at least a basic familiarity with the major steps. I’ve compiled a list of blogs I’ve written on the topic.
The first thing established in the hero’s journey is the ordinary world. Sometimes called the slice of life, this sets up what the day to day life of the hero looks like before he or she receives their call to adventure. The call to adventure is the moment when everything changes. The known becomes unknown, and whether the hero accepts the call or not, this is the point where they enter the extraordinary world.
The hero then embarks on the road of trials, where their skills will manifest in surprising ways and they’ll slowly build confidence in their emerging abilities until they meet with utter failure at the moment they needed success most. Typically there’s a death here and we enter the darkest part of the journey, the belly of the whale.
This moment is what separates heroes from villains. See, a good bad guy had their own journey. But when they reached their low point, they didn’t find humility and a new determination to succeed. They missed the transformation into a hero. When all the skills, lessons, and red herrings along the way come together to matter in a big way. The journey ends with the road back, often fraught with its own perils to show just how much the hero has changed and how far they’ve come.
There are seventeen steps to the hero’s journey. I’ve only covered a handful, but there are tons of great resources out there for aspiring writers. Here’s a few of my favorites.
Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell. This is THE source book about the hero’s journey. If you really want to learn all the intricacies of the journey, start here.
The Hero’s Journey in Game of Thrones: Jon Snow breaks down Snow’s journey. You can pretty much type in hero’s journey in insert any movie, book, show here and get the steps broken down. But this blog had some great visual resources as well.
The Writer’s Journey breaks down the steps and includes guidelines for writers to adapt the hero’s journey into novel form.