I think most writers have heard of the concept of a hero’s journey. For those that haven’t, the idea is that the hero begins in a negative, or non optimal situation, and progresses through adversity to become the hero that the universe needed, whether it knew it or not.
The hero’s journey is one of the oldest forms of stories and, although I’ve heard it said that there are seven coins of story, I personally don’t subscribe to that. I don’t think there are really more than one: every story involves the hero’s journey in some way. That’s why I think that being able to build a convincing and interesting hero’s journey is absolutely vital, and that’s what I’m going to talk about today,
When you are beginning this hero’s journey, you need to think carefully about what situation the hero might be in. It is very likely that they are not currently the hero. Maybe they’re disgraced, maybe they’re too young to have realised their potential, maybe they were retired soldier from a war that has ended.
It doesn’t entirely matter for the structure what the reasoning is, and it’s going to be quite hard to come up with one that is totally original… so don’t worry about that, worry about what fits the main character of your story.
The hero has to be in this sort of “vanilla” situation – neither good nor bad – because it’s a developing situation (often bad) that’s likely to motivate them to get moving at the beginning – which is where the hero’s journey truly begins. The situation that’s been stable for some time, on the other hand, allows this hero to become complacent, to reach an equilibrium in their life.
Often, you will want to spend a little bit of time building that view of the world before moving onto the next step:
That equilibrium needs to be disrupted!
This could be an external event and it very often is something that comes from outside. So don’t be afraid to call on an external factor, which brings a character out of their stable state and forces them on a journey that will change their life forever.
That’s how I would consider beginning a hero’s journey. I’m more than happy to talk more about the later stages in another article, if you’re interested. Feel free to leave comments below if you’ve got any questions, because I’m more than happy to explain more about what I am thinking!
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