Writing the Hero’s Journey Part 1

This week on Hide and Create Joshua Essoe, Jordan Ellinger, Moses Siregar and Jaye Wells start talking about the Hero’s Journey.

The Hero’s Journey is a skeletal framework that should be fleshed out with the details and surprises of the individual story. The structure should not call attention to itself, nor should it be followed too precisely. The order of the stages given here is only one of many possible variations. The stages can be deleted, added to, and drastically shuffled without losing any of their power.

The Hero’s Journey is infinitely flexible, capable of endless variation without sacrificing any of its magic, and it will outlive us all.

5 thoughts on “Writing the Hero’s Journey Part 1

  1. Seems to me the writers journey is not unlike the hero’s journey. There is ordinary life, the call to adventure, refusal/delay, mentors, obstacles both internal and external try/fail cycles…and there is the magic elixir, a story not just worthy of publication but one which advances past the final editorial and marketing gatekeepers to emerge from oblivion and take it’s place on the bookstore shelf next to Anna Karenina, Gone With the Wind, and The Last Unicorn.

  2. That’s a great point. I actually have a workshop I present that goes through each step of the hero’s journey and relates it to the stages of writing a book. It’s definitely a test of one’s mettle.

  3. With respect to the hero’s journey and the cast of characters which traditionally flesh out that journey what do you make of the “contagonist” as described by the Dramatica Grand Argument story mind model: Protagonist (Luke) stands opposite Antagonist (Empire/Emperor), Contagonist (Darth Vader/tempter from the path) stands opposite the Guardian (Obi Wan), Emotion (Chewy stands opposite of Logic (Princess Leia), Sidekick (robots: subdivided into thought/action) stands opposite the Skeptic (Hans). Each character component represent one aspect of the story mind making its “argument” the story. They can be divided up on various sides of the conflict equally or unequally. Seven of these slots/character types have been part storytelling thought/instruction for a very long time…but the contagonist as a fixed/necessary element of a character qualities set is new. The tempter character is old as well, but to be elevated to the archetype pantheon is Dramatica’s assertion/contribution. Do you think longer fuller stories that use all the other basic archetypes miss something if there is no tempter/contagonist character?

  4. Fantastic episode! I was aware of the hero’s journey as a concept, but not the details and steps. It was interesting to realize how many of these elements I’ve used myself, not realizing that they were part of that journey. I wonder how much of that has to do with the archetypal/universal nature of the hero’s journey, and how much comes from exposure to literature and the fact that we subconsciously absorb story structure that way.

    I can’t wait for the next episode. I have mixed feelings on “the chosen one” myself. I’ve avoided it so far, but I might be swayed. 🙂

  5. I think that both of those factors have a lot to do with it. We’re all human, and you can find instances of this story structure popping up independent of one another all over the globe. It is very interesting to me that it may point toward the possibility that humans are just wired to think certain things and in certain ways. I’m sure that sentiment would be vehemently opposed by the violently free-thinking among us . . . yet other animals of the same species think in the same broad strokes as one another, so why not us?

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