inspiration, mythology, Uncategorized, Welcome, world-building, writing technique

The Hero’s Journey

As you probably know, many writers use Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey as the route along which to write their own story. Here are some of the more famous examples.

A good yarn often starts with The Ordinary World.
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit…This particular hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins. The Bagginses had lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected…”
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Unexpectedly, there is the Call To Adventure.
“Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.”
– Princess Leia (hologram), “Star Wars: Episode IV”

Followed, of course, by The Refusal Of The Call.
“We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t see what anybody sees in them…Good morning!…we don’t want any adventures here, thank you! You might try over The Hill or across The Water.”
– Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

No adventurer ventures without The Helper.
“I can guide you but you must do exactly as I say.”
– Morpheus, “The Matrix”

And off they go to The Threshold Of Adventure.
“The Mos Eisley Spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”
– Obi Wan Kenobi “Star Wars: A New Hope”

But wait, they must face down The Threshold Guardian.
“Who would cross the Bridge of Death must first answer me these questions three, ‘ere the other side they see.”
– Bridge-keeper, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”

Now, together our adventurers face Tests.
“We’ll never survive.”
“Nonsense, you’re only saying that because no one ever has.”
– Wesley and Buttercup (when preparing to enter the Fire Swamp), “The Princess Bride”

At some point, they endure a Supreme Ordeal.
“Only after disaster can you be resurrected. It is only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything.”
– Tyler Durden, “Fight Club”

At the climax, our heroes reach the enemy’s lair and prevail. But now comes Flight.
“Come on buddy, we’re not out of this yet.”
– Han Solo, “Star Wars: A New Hope”

Finally, our heroes take The Road Back. They return home.
“We thought you were… dead.”
“I was. Now I’m better.”
– Captain Sheridan in response to the Drazi ambassador, Babylon 5 ep. “The Summoning”

Come to think of it, just reading about Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey can get a writer excited.

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5 thoughts on “The Hero’s Journey

    • GD Deckard says:

      I would so argue, Mike. As I understand from reading “The Hero’s Journey” and “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” these are not rules or even guidelines. They are the kind of events that peoples past and present weave into their stories because they resonate with most cultures.
      But, it’s been years since I read those books. What is your understanding of them?

      Like

  1. mimispeike says:

    These step-by-step formulas mystify me. I don’t write that way. I tap dance through my story, jogging this way or that to the music in my head. The hero’s journey, how-to of any kind, fun to read about, but not for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mimispeike says:

    I did read this, long, long ago. I can tell you precisely when I read it. That would have been 1964, in a creative writing class my freshman year of college. I didn’t sign up for the class. I had no impulse to write. That class replaced Freshman English for those who had scored well on the SAT. We read and discussed Campbell, and had just one assignment: write something. I don’t remember what I wrote. I do remember I got an ‘A’. I suspect my piece had wise-ass animals in it. Everything I write has wise-ass animals.

    Liked by 1 person

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