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  • What is the Hero’s Journey? 12 Key Steps to Crafting Your Story

    From ancient myths to contemporary cinema, it’s a tale blueprint that has survived through the ages.

    Humans have to face challenges, change, and evolve. Therefore, stories featuring characters confronting challenges and becoming just like us are a hit.

    This transformation process is precisely what The Hero’s Journey is about.

    This post explores the nooks and crannies of this narrative structure to increase our understanding of stories and help us understand our own experiences.

    What is the Hero’s Journey?

    The Hero’s Journey, introduced by the mythologist Joseph Campbell in his book Hero With a Thousand Faces, is a standard storytelling style across all cultures and eras.

    It is a fictional tool that takes a character through specific phases, starting in their home and leading them through obstacles and adventures before ending with their transformative return.

    The core of this adventure are characters that make up the core of the journey, such as the mentor who guides you, the loyal sidekick, and the frightful trickster.

    This timeless design is popular with audiences due to its reflections on personal struggles and progress and is a crucial element in compelling stories.

    Dissecting the 12 Fundamental Steps of the Hero’s Journey

    Let’s look at each stage in The Hero’s Journey to understand their importance and then provide examples and suggestions for completing each step of your writing.

    The Ordinary World

    Every story begins in the life of the protagonist’s routine before adventures start. Consider Luke Skywalker on Tatooine’s moisture farm. His everyday life is simple and routine.

    Writers, it would be best if you learned to establish your character’s roots with relatable routines that highlight the contrast once the adventure starts.

    Call to Adventure

    This momentous event alters the usual routine of the hero and propels them towards an uncharted path. Similar to the time when Bilbo Baggins is given the unexpected gift of the Hobbit.

    If you’re creating your adventure call, make sure the message is memorable and alters the hero’s routine even when it’s not apparent.

    Refusal of the Call

    Doubt is often a factor in a hero’s judgment, which makes them reluctant to do what they want to do. As Rick Blaine in Casablanca, conflicted by his past with Ilsa.

    In your tales, use this hesitation to draw attention to the protagonist’s weaknesses, making them more easily likable.

    Meeting the Mentor

    Each hero needs someone to offer knowledge, skills, or both. The Matrix is a great example. In the film The Matrix, Neo finds Morpheus, who exposes what is truthful to Neo and gives him the tools Neo requires.

    Remember that mentors are supposed to be able to challenge and enrich the hero’s experience, but they might not have all the answers.

    Crossing the Threshold

    The hero entirely is a part of the adventure. Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz goes through this experience when she is taken into the realm of Oz.

    When writing, remember that the transition must feel transformational. Invoke this transformation to indicate that there’s no stopping to the hero.

    Tests, Allies, Enemies

    Heroes must overcome obstacles, build alliances, and recognize enemies. For instance, in The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo finds allies in Legolas and Gimli and fights against enemies such as Ringwraiths.

    A quick suggestion for writers: include diverse characters and challenges that challenge or reflect the hero’s beliefs.

    Approach to the Inmost Cave

    In this scene, the protagonist is faced with the most severe dangers. For instance, in the film The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen stepped into the Arena for the first time.

    Be aware that the “Inmost Cave” doesn’t always need to be physical. It could symbolize the hero’s internal struggle or the most profound fears.

    The Ordeal

    The hero is now facing his most difficult (often death-or-life) test. For instance, Luke Skywalker’s fight with Darth Vader is a classic encounter, testing his fighting skills, character, and convictions.

    This scene showcases the hero’s progress or highlights their character’s flaws. The more complex the test is, the better the outcome.


    After the confrontation, the hero is recognized, either intangibly or tangibly. When it comes to Theseus, along with The Minotaur, Theseus saves his city and is rewarded with Ariadne.

    When you write the story of your dreams, remember that the rewards you give must be relevant and in line with the story.

    The Road Back

    The hero then returns home to his everyday life, But this return trip often comes with difficulties.

    Reflect on Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. After defeating The Wicked Witch, she still has to return to Kansas and realizes that “there’s no place like home.”

    This is an opportunity for authors to revisit elements introduced at the story’s beginning and demonstrate how they’ve changed.


    The hero is put through one final test, which exemplifies the growth. Remember the story of how Odysseus, when he returns home, must defend his home and transform from a tired traveler to a hero of triumph.

    Resurrection is a summing up of the hero’s journey. Writers can use this method to rehash past struggles to show improvement and reinforce themes.

    Return With the Elixir

    After overcoming obstacles, the protagonist returns to their home with the knowledge or an artifact that transforms the world.

    King Arthur’s search for his quest for the Holy Grail is one such story. Even though the physical Grail wasn’t returned to Camelot, The lessons of unity, cohesion, and character development within his knights have enriched the kingdom.

    The most important thing to remember about this process is that “elixir” symbolizes change, expansion, and the journey’s real meaning. As a writer, you can use this method to highlight the story’s message, ensuring readers can connect with the account even after they’ve completed reading.

    The Hero

    The hero is central to the story’s plot and emotional journey. The protagonist is unassuming at first, but it becomes remarkable through hardships of self-discovery, struggles, and challenges,

    Consider Frodo Baggins in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Initially, he’s a basic hobbit with no interest in adventure, but eventually, he takes on the challenge of destroying his own One Ring.

    The main reason for this archetype is that the hero doesn’t need to be someone unique. The change they experience makes their journey exciting and allows readers to envision themselves as the role of the hero.

    The Mentor

    The mentor is the hero’s beacon of wisdom and a leading source of strength. They provide the hero with the right tools, knowledge, skills, or objects, to take on future challenges.

    Gandalf is a good example. He is an ally and protector in bringing wisdom to the critical players.

    The impact of a mentor isn’t limited to their teachings but also to how they push the individual to develop.

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