If you ask any twenty people why they enjoy stories, you”™re likely to get a hundred answers. Another, closely related question: what is a story? Another hundred answers. From all that mess (with few exceptions) will arise some common themes about what stories are and why they drive us to spend so much time with fictional characters in made-up universes. The common elements of good stories: character, plot, setting.
We knew that. Characters doing things in a time and place. The way those elements are constructed, the dance they weave around each other, separates forgettable tales from timeless classics. There are other important elements: voice, tone, motifs, themes, and the rest. But these stand on the shoulders of our three basic pieces to every good story puzzle.
The Hero”™s Journey is one way to weave characters, plot, and setting. It is not the only way. It may not be the best way. The magic of the Hero’s Journey arises from its primality; its universal basicness. Joseph Campbell spent his lifetime investigating myths from all around the world, distilling patterns he found from all civilizations into some common principles. Carl Jung, a prominant psychologist, built upon this these patterns by likening this journey to facets found deep in the human psyche and cultural memories. This isn”™t some kooky metaphysical idea, it”™s basic psychology.