The Challenge of Heroism Introduction (8)

Watch and complete the Ted-Ed Heroism lesson. Pause and take notes as needed.

Overview of the Hero’s Journey (from Novel-Software)

Here is a brief overview of the elements of the Hero’s Journey, with more detailed explanation below.

Act 1

  • Introduction to the protagonist’s world
  • Call to action
  • Crossing the threshold

Act 2

  • Mentor teaches the lead
  • First challenge
  • Temptation
  • Dark moment

Act 3

  • Final conflict
  • Return home

More detail of the stages in the journey

Act 1

You set the scene, introduce your character and their normal life, just in time for them to…

  • Call to action

… be torn from it! Actually it’s better if they’re not torn, but have to commit to the decision themselves. In any case, the challenge is put forward. You can start building sympathy for your character by ensuring their decision is something the reader can identify with and / or respect.

  • Crossing the threshold

In order to ensure your lead has the pressure on and therefore your readers are hooked into wondering how they’ll ever get out of this mess, it’s good if your hero crosses some kind of threshold that is difficult, if not impossible, to get back to normal life from. It may be a physical journey across land, the removal of allies, self-inflicted isolation or becoming wanted and on the run.

Act 2

  • Mentor teaches the hero

Readers want to see a character develop into a real hero who can overcome the odds. Everybody needs help sometimes. Mentors in popular fiction include Dumbledore, Morpheus, Rafiki and Obi Wan Kenobi.

  • First challenge

Time to put your lead under pressure. It may be that they have a first encounter with the villain, or for a slower build, it could be the villain’s cronies.

  • Temptation

I can resist everything except temptation, said someone pithy. Add depth to your lead by giving them a challenge they have to find the strength of character to overcome.

  • Dark moment

As you near the climax of your book, circumstances start piling up. Push your lead to the limits to the point they are questioning everything they know, and very nearly slip to the dark side. The closer they get to failing, the more nail-biting it will be. But in the end they pull through, which brings them to…

Act 3

  • Final battle

The final battle! This is the climax of your story and you must pull out all the stops to make it great. We’ll work on this in great detail later, looking at what makes a satisfying ending, so for now you should just have a loose idea of whether your hero succeeds or fails.

  • Return home

Once your climax is completed all there is to do is tie up loose ends, will your lead live happily ever after? Do they return home or stay in their new place? Who is with them at the end?