Hero?s Journey (Complete, 106 Stages)
Beyond three and four act story structure, lies the Hero?s Journey.
The Hero?s Journey is the most usable story structure consisting of at least 106 stages and the template for successful contemporary stories, from Star Wars to Al Pacino Scarface to The Incredibles to War of the Worlds to The Dirty Dozen to Midnight Cowboy.
The Hero?s Journey is a valuable template because:
a) It attempts to tap into unconscious expectations the audience has regarding what a story is and how it should be told.
b) It gives the writer more structural elements than simply three or four acts, plot points, mid point and so on.
c) Interpreted metaphorically and symbolically, it allows an infinite number of varied stories to be created.
One (usually critical) stage of the journey is the Supernatural Aid.
The Supernatural Aid encompasses the Meeting with a Mentor as well as the receiving of Magical Potions or Gifts. Writers often mistakenly believe that this is a straightforward affair.
Often the Hero has left his Ordinary World knowing that he has broken an Interdiction. As such, it is not unusual to find that the Journey to the Mentor takes place at night and in haste.
Even though the Hero may want to embark on the adventure, it is not unusual that there is resistance to it (expanded upon in the Refusal). Therefore, the Hero is often pulled into the adventure. The Pull can be the result of a number of factors - a death, an event, the lead of an ally and so on.
The Hero will know that the Journey to the Mentor is dangerous and will be wary. There may be natural or man-made obstacles and dangers. Thus this is also a reason for haste.
The Hero may undergo a near death experience on the way, and may be saved by the Mentor ? who may use his own magical powers. This demonstrates the superior nature of the Mentor and the status relationship between them.
The Mentor will seem to know the Hero, as if privy to some insight.
Wary of danger, the Mentor will take the Hero to a Safe Place, where a meeting between then will take place. This is a Sacred Meeting and others will recognise this and make themselves absent.
The Hero will relate the Call to Adventure and the Mentor will intuitively understand it (and may have had previous experience of it) and likely encourage the Hero to embark on it.
The Mentor will be familiar with the Hero?s history and relate it to him, which up to now has been a mystery to him. It will seem as if the Hero is destined for the adventure and following in the footsteps of ancestors or blood relatives.
The Mentor will provide Magical Potions, Gifts and Spiritual Guidance to aid the Hero on his adventure. These will have limitations ? he will be warned not to misuse them.
There is much more?
The 106 stage Hero?s Journey and other story structure templates can be found at http://www.managing-creativity.com/CreativeWriting.html
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Kal Bishop, MBA
About the Author: Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached on http://www.managing-creativity.com/