In his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell identified the story elements that were common to all the great stories across cultures and generations. Chris Vogler in The Writer’s Journey applied Campbell’s thinking to the movies and came up with 12 steps that define a classic story structure. These 12 steps – and my own Hero’s Emotional Journey – form the foundation for my Screenwriting Courses.
Step 1 – Ordinary World
We see the Hero in their normal setting before the story comes to shake up their world.
Step 2 – Call to Adventure
The Hero gets a Call to Adventure, inviting their to leave their Ordinary World.
Step 3 – Refusal of the Call
Typically, the Hero will initially refuse this call – or reservations will be expressed by those around them.
Step 4 – Meeting with the Mentor
The Hero will then interact with a mentor figure, though not necessarily a wise old man with grey hair.
Step 5 – Crossing the First Threshold
The Hero finally leaves their ordinary world and enters the Special World where the story commences in earnest.
Step 6 – Tests, Allies and Enemies
The Hero is now disoriented and must decide who they can and cannot trust.
Step 7 – The Approach (to the Inmost Cave)
Before the Hero tackles the central ordeal, he might engage in his some reconnaissance, training or extra curricular activity.
Step 8 – The Ordeal
The Hero is confronted here with a life and death situation – either literally or figuratively – that will generally identify their character flaw and force them to change if they are to progress in their quest.
Step 9 – The Reward
Having stared death in the face, the Hero is changed and rewarded – either with a feast or a romantic interlude.
Step 10 – The Road Home
Just when things seemed comfortable, the Hero gets a reminder that the job is not yet done.
Step 11 – Resurrection
The story reaches its climax in another life and death moment and the Hero proves beyond doubt that they are changed for all time.
Step 12 – Sharing the Elixir
When the Hero confronts their fears, others in the “tribe” get to share the spoils. Their lives too are enriched by the completion of the Hero’s Journey.
A new character-driven Hero’s Journey
Want to learn more about the Hero’s Journey? Come to one of my Screenwriting Courses.