This post is part of a series exploring the Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell studied hundreds of world-wide myths, finding patterns to virtually any story. This basic framework gives the stories we tell a universal, timeless appeal and resonate deeply with our audiences. This series is not about a “five steps to perfect stories” method, nor does it claim a best way to tell stories. Today, we begin with plot.
The “Journey” in Hero’s Journey
The Hero”™s Journey (or the Writer”™s Journey as Christopher Vogler calls it) has been analyzed, redefined, tinkered with and taught a million different ways. The point of this series is not to make that a million and one, but to simplify it a little. Stories are simple. They are powerful. That”™s why its been a primary occupation of man since that first campfire. We will break down the journey into five steps:
- The Hero and the Ordinary World, Broken
- The Hero and the Quest
- The Hero and the Passion
- The Hero and the Moment
- The Hero and the Repercussions
For the geeks out there (of which I am unashamedly one), here is a more extensive list of the Writer”™s Journey and Joseph Campbell”™s original Hero”™s Journey.
The Hero and Character Growth
We use these five steps because they are a more character-centered way of organizing the Hero”™s Journey. Each of the five steps is completely connected with the Hero”™s growth and character arc. As we will see in more detail later, the main character (and really most of your characters) must grow. They must change, becoming a different person by the end of the tale. That may be literal (zombie to human) or more internal (grumpy to happy). It can even be negative growth (happy to grumpy), though handle this with caution. The point is: the journey itself (all the stuff the hero goes through) aids this change. Most commonly, a hero has a want, a wound, and a need. You may also think of these as character flaws. More on this later.