The Hero's Journey Outline
Created by Darby Rollins on
The Hero's Journey: 12 Stages of Character & Story Arc Development In 1949, mythologist Joseph Campbell published The Hero With a Thousand Faces, which outlines the structure of the journeys that archetypal heroes experience in world myths. This structure became known as the monomyth, or Hero’s Journey, and has since served as the framework behind many popular speculative fiction books and films, including Star Wars, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Hunger Games, Ender's Game, and The Lord of the Rings. The goal of this outline is to create a sense of relatability in the hero’s story. The hero should act as a beacon of hope because of his struggles, and the transformation of the hero is what makes their story inspiring for others on a similar path. PRO TIP: The Hero’s Journey doubles as a framework for non-fiction authors, marketers, and business owners to better understand their readers and customers. In turn, this understanding helps the author or brand communicate their message more effectively by adding clarity to where their audience is now and where they want to be. ALSO: Keep an open mind about the story as Jasper builds the outline. Let Jasper build the story by feeding it a short sentence in the description box to get the best results. Also, if one question in the recipe doesn't provide the desired results, it's OK to skip it! Here's a layout of each stage of The Hero's Journey with a description for your reference (not in the recipe when you download it into your account to keep it light-weight) *Please note that the hero may be referenced as a 'he' in some of the examples and explanations. When downloading the recipe into your account, you can do a quick search for pronouns and adjust them to line up with your character. 1. Ordinary World Before the present tale begins, our Hero is in his own world, oblivious to what's ahead. It's a safe place for him. This establishes our Hero as a human, just like you and me, and makes it easier for us to connect with him and therefore empathize with his problems. 2. Call To Adventure The protagonist's journey begins when he or she is called to action, such as receiving a direct danger to his or her safety, family, lifestyle, or community. It may not be as dramatic as a gunshot, but it might be just as life-changing. 3. Refusal Of The Call Denying the call may be because of his fear that he will not be able to complete it. Second thoughts or even deep personal concerns about whether or not he is capable of performing the task. When this happens, the Hero refuses the offer and, as a result, suffers in some manner. The problem he faces may appear to be too difficult and the potential loss too great if he fails. 4. Meeting The Mentor The mentor figure provides the Hero with something he needs at this crucial turning point when the Hero is in need of guidance. He might be given a valuable object, knowledge into the problem he's facing, sound advice, hands-on training, or even self-confidence. Whatever the mentor gives him helps to dispel his concerns and fears while also encouraging him to continue his journey. 5. Crossing The Threshold The Hero is now prepared to act on his call to adventure and start his quest, whether it be physical, spiritual, or emotional in nature. He might go of his own accord or be forced to do so, but at last, he will cross the barrier that separates him from the world he knows. It might be leaving home for the first time in an epic journey, or it could be an internal one where he’s forced to face his inner demons. 6. Tests, Allies, Enemies The Hero is now thrust out of his comfort zone, with a more difficult series of obstacles put in his path to test him in a variety of ways. Obstacles are strewn across the Hero's route, whether they be physical impediments or persons intent on preventing him from reaching his objective. The Hero must figure out who can be trusted and who cannot. He may come across friends and confrontations with adversaries that will, in their own ways, help him prepare for the greater challenges ahead. This is where his abilities and skills are put to the test, and every obstacle he faces helps us better understand his personality as well as connect with him on a deeper level. 7. Approach To The Inmost Cave The inside cave might represent a variety of things in the Hero's tale, including a real-life location with a deadly peril or an internal debate the Hero has yet to confront. As the Hero approaches the cave, he must make final arrangements before leaping into the vast unknown. At the threshold to the inner cave, the Hero may once again confront some of his initial concerns and fears. To gain the bravery to continue, he may need to take some time to reflect on his trip and the hazardous road ahead. This brief repose heightens tension in anticipation of the Hero's ultimate trial by allowing us to comprehend how significant it is. 8. The Ordeal The Supreme Ordeal is a perilous physical trial or a profound inner conflict that the Hero must overcome in order to survive or for the world in which he lives to continue to exist. Whether it's defeating his most terrible adversary or his deepest dread, the Hero must utilize all of his abilities and experiences gathered on the journey to the inner cave in order to succeed. The Hero is reborn through death, which is metaphorically likened to a literal resurrection that gives him new power or knowledge sufficient to complete his mission or reach the conclusion of his quest. This is when everything the Hero values most hangs in the balance. He will either perish or life as he knows it will never be the same again if he fails. 9. The Reward The Hero, after overcoming the enemy, surviving death, and finally conquering his greatest personal challenge, is ultimately changed into a new condition as a result of battle. The Reward may take many forms: an important or powerful object, a secret knowledge or wisdom increase, or even reconciliation with a loved one or companion. Whatever the treasure is that will help him complete his journey, the Hero is now in a better position to do so than before. 10. The Road Back This is the last part of the Hero's journey. In this section, he has to go back home with his reward. Now, instead of being afraid, he will be hoping for acclaim and vindication. He might have to do one more thing before going back into the Ordinary World. 11. Resurrection This is the climax, in which the Hero will have his last and most hazardous confrontation with death. The Hero's final contest is about more than his own existence, with the outcome having significant implications for his Ordinary World and those he leaves behind. Others will suffer if he fails, adding to the burden on his shoulders and compelling the audience to feel involved in the struggle as well. The Hero will ultimately succeed, defeat his opponent, and emerge from the conflict with the prize he set out to win. 12. The Return The final stage in the Hero's journey is his return to his Ordinary World as a transformed person. He will have developed as a person, acquired many new skills, encountered many terrible challenges, and even faced death during his quest. However, he looks forward to beginning a fresh existence at home. His return might provide renewed optimism for those he left behind and faith for those who have continued to believe in him. The ultimate prize that he receives may be literal or figurative. It might be a cause for celebration, self-awareness, or the end of the conflict, but whatever it is, it represents three things: change, success, and proof of his journey. The Hero's doubters will be ostracized; his foes chastised; and his allies rewarded. His rewards may be material, they may take the form of a new prize or status, or he might even experience a spiritual change that was unknown to him before his journey began.