Every great story that has ever been told follows the basic mythological structure of what Joseph Campbell has called the Hero’s Journey. If you look closely at some of the most popular and satisfying novels and movies, you can see for yourself that this is true. This structure deeply resonates for all of us as humans because it reflects the inner process we all go through in our lives as we strive to be true to ourselves and create a life that is satisfying and fulfilling.
In this article, I’ll go over the basics steps of the Hero’s Journey that you can use to structure your novel so that the final result will be a story that feels satisfying and meaningful to you as well as to your readers.
The Steps of the Hero’s Journey
1. Reveal The Ordinary World of Your Character. Introduce your main character, the hero of your novel, and show us what his life is like at the beginning of your story.
2. Your Character Faces a Challenge. Something happens that forces the hero to make a decision that will change his life.
3. Your Character Initially Refuses. Initially your main character resists this change and the difficulties it will entail and wants things to stay the same.
4. You Character Decides To Change. Often triggered by an outside event, he makes a commitment to changing his life.
5. Your Character Gains Mentors and Allies. As your story progresses, your character meets people along the way who offer help and support.
6. Your Character Learns What He Needs To Succeed. He takes action toward achieving his goals and acquiring the skills he will need along the way. The stakes get higher as he proceeds.
7. Your Character First Confronts His Deepest Fear and Fails. He faces his greatest challenge but has not yet acquired the inner strength that is needed to succeed at his goal.
8. The Dark Night of the Soul. Your character experiences self-doubt and fears that he will never succeed. He is on the verge of giving up.
9. The Leap of Faith. Your character experiences a renewed inner commitment to his goal based on an inner faith that he can be, do, or have whatever he really wants.
10. Final Climactic Confrontation and Ultimate Success. Your character faces his biggest challenge and puts everything into achieving what he wants. With this final powerful effort, he finally succeeds and gets what he has wanted for so long.
When you apply the structure of the Hero’s Journey to your novel, the process of writing becomes much easier and more inspiring. It helps you to see where your main character needs to go and what he needs to face in order to make the story truly powerful and meaningful for you as the writer and for your readers as well. When you feel stuck and don’t know where to go next with your writing, the structure of the Hero’s Journey will always show you the next step.
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