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A Hero’s Journey. Flexible framework of a heroic tale. The Ordinary World. “Fish Out of Water” idea: take the hero out of the ordinary world and into a Special World, new and unfamiliar Story will show Ordinary World first to contrast with the strange new world hero is about to enter.

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a hero s journey

A Hero’s Journey

Flexible framework of a heroic tale

the ordinary world
The Ordinary World
  • “Fish Out of Water” idea: take the hero out of the ordinary world and into a Special World, new and unfamiliar
  • Story will show Ordinary World first to contrast with the strange new world hero is about to enter
call to adventure
Call to Adventure
  • Hero is presented with a problem, challenge, or adventure to undertake
  • Now, the hero can no longer remain in the comfort of the Ordinary World
  • Call to Adventure establishes the hero’s goal, such as:
    • Win treasure
    • Win lover
    • Get revenge
    • Right a wrong
    • Achieve a dream
    • Confront a challenge
    • Change a life
refusal of the call
Refusal of the Call
  • Hero fears the adventure and has not fully committed to the journey
  • May be thinking of turning back—expressing reluctance
  • Some other influence is required to get hero past this turning point of fear
    • Change in circumstances
    • Further offences against natural order
    • Encouragement of a Mentor
meeting the mentor
Meeting the Mentor
  • Story will introduce a Mentor
  • Function of the Mentor is to prepare the hero to face the unknown
  • May give advice, guidance, or magical equipment
  • However, Mentor can only go so far with the hero
  • Sometimes has to nudge the hero to get the adventure going
crossing the threshold
Crossing the Threshold
  • Hero finally commits to the adventure and enters the Special World by crossing the first threshold
  • Agrees to face consequences of dealing with the problem or challenge posed in the Call to Adventure
  • Moment when the story takes off
tests allies and enemies
Tests, Allies, and Enemies
  • Encounters Tests and makes Allies and Enemies along the road of adventure
  • Begins to learn the rules of the Special World
  • Character develops – watch the hero and his companions react under stress of the adventure
  • Hero comes to the edge of a dangerous place or “Inmost Cave”
    • Often where the object of the quest is hidden
    • Headquarters of the hero’s greatest enemy
    • The most dangerous spot in the Special World
  • Pause to prepare a plan for entering the Dangerous Place
    • Prepares to confront death or supreme danger
ordeal death rebirth
Ordeal, Death, & Rebirth
  • Hero hits bottom in direct confrontation with his greatest fear
  • Faces possibility of death and comes close in a battle with a hostile force
  • Audience held in suspense, not knowing if he will live or die
  • Critical moment: hero must die or appear to die so that he/she can be born again
  • Major source of the magic of the heroic myth
  • Every story needs a life-or-death moment in which the hero or his goals are in moral jeopardy
reward seizing the sword
Reward “Seizing the Sword”
  • Hero has survived the danger
  • Hero takes possession of Reward
    • Special weapon or token
    • A knowledge and experience that leads to greater understanding and resolution with hostile forces
the road back
The Road Back
  • Hero is not out of the woods yet!
  • Hero begins to deal with the consequences of confronting the dangers of the Supreme Ordeal
  • The Hostile Force (parent, god, enemy, etc.) may come raging after the hero
    • Chase scene!
  • Marks the decision to return to the Ordinary World
  • Hero realizes Special World must be left behind and there are still dangers, temptations, and tests ahead
  • Hero must be reborn and cleansed in one last Ordeal of death and Resurrection before returning to Ordinary World
  • Often a second life-and-death moment
  • “Final exam” for the hero
    • Tested one more time to see if he/she has really learned the lessons of the Supreme Ordeal
  • Reborn as a new being and is able to return to the ordinary life
return with elixir
Return with Elixir
  • Returns to the Ordinary World
  • Brings back some Elixir – Treasure or lesson from the Special World
    • Useful knowledge or experience
    • Treasure won on the quest
    • Love, freedom, or wisdom
    • Knowledge that the Special World exists