The Hero’s Journey at the October Meeting

Richard Pulfer
Richard Pulfer

To prepare for National Novel Writing Month, member Richard Pulfer covered the hero’s journey at the October In Print meeting and walked members through a writing exercise.  Joesph Campbell opined that most myths around the world could be boiled down to a monomyth, a common set of story elements.  Screenwriter Chris Vogler boiled this down in his book The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers.

  • Ordinary World – This is the opening where we meet the hero living a normal life.
  • Call to Adventure – Something from outside of the hero’s normal experience appears.
  • Refusal to Call – Initially the hero does not want to leave the regular world.
  • Meet with a Mentor – The hero meets with someone who provides important information that will prove vital in the journey they’re about to take.
  • First Threshold – The journey begins.
  • Test Allies and Enemies – Along the way, the hero meets people that will either help or hurt their cause.
  • Approach to the Inmost Cave – This is the darkest time with the highest peril for the hero.
  • Ordeal – The hero has to survive a set of tests.
  • Reward – Once successful, the hero receives a reward – either physical or spiritual.
  • The Road Back – The hero escapes.
  • Resurrection – This doesn’t have to mean a literal resurrection.  Often the hero is able to “resurrect” a part of their spirit, lost until the journey.
  • Return with Elixir – The hero returns to the ordinary world as a changed person with the ability to change those around them.

It was Vogler’s assertion every successful movie follows this story arc.  We hope so; In Print members took inspiration from news reports and wrote story outlines that conformed to the list.  For example: A man discovers he’s been declared legally dead and through his journey to reclaim his life, he overcomes addiction and regains his wife and family.  Hollywood should give us a call!