J – Journey

Today, Connie Ann Michael, author of the 1000 Moments Series is going to talk to about the twelve stages of the hero’s journey*.


In every story, regardless of genre, the hero must go on some sort of journey. Whether your hero is moving from despair to hope, imprisoned to free, weakness to strength, your hero must grow and change from one way of being or thinking to the next. It’s these emotional journeys that hook the audience and makes your book worth reading. But whatever the journey your hero is embarking on, it is one your readers should to want to go on as well.

The 12 stages of a hero’s journey:
1) Ordinary and Normal. All heroes start in an ordinary world to show contrast to the new world they will end up in. The Wizard of Oz is a good example of setting up the hero.
Dorothy begins in Kansas to show us the everyday life she is living and the unhappiness she feels before she is taken to a new world

2) They receive a call to adventure. The hero is presented with a problem, a challenge, and / or an adventure. Once presented with the problem, they can no longer remain in their ordinary world. In romance, this would be the first encounter with the {annoying} someone they will eventually end up with. This establishes the stakes in the game and makes the hero’s goals clear.

3) Refusal of the call. This is also known as the reluctant hero, and it’s about fear. The hero balks at the threshold of adventure by expressing reluctance. They are not fully committed to the journey and may still be thinking of turning back. A good example of this is Hans Solo’s actions at the beginning of Star Wars when he isn’t all in the adventure Luke is asking him to take.

4) Meeting of a mentor. This is meeting of a wise old man or other character who provides the voice of reason. Again, using Star Wars, this would be your Yoda. This character can only go so far with the hero before the hero needs to go on their own. This character is there to give the hero a kick in the pants.

5) Crossing the first threshold. This is where your hero finally commits and fully enters the special world of the story for the first time and agrees to face the consequences of dealing with the problem or the challenge poised in the call to adventure. This is where the story picks up and gets moving.

6) Tasks, Allies, Enemies. This is the turning point in the journey where the hero is overcoming their fear and has now decided to confront the problem and do something. He’s committed and there is no turning back. So, now we need to throw some difficulty and challenges in their way, allowing the hero to learn the rules of his journey.

7) Approach to the inner most cave. In this part of the journey, the hero enters a fearful place where they will cross the second major threshold. Here, they will pause to prepare, plan, and outwit the villain. Here, they will confront danger.

8) The ordeal or the Black Moment. Here, the audience is held in suspense and tension is built. The reader won’t know if the hero will live or die. The hero hits rock bottom in a direct confrontation with his greatest fear. A good example is in Star Wars when they are in the trash compactor or in E.T. when he dies on the table. This is the part of the Journey when the hero must die (either figuratively or literally) so he can be born again.

9) The Reward. The hero is reconciled with the loved one, or when he comes to the rescue we see him as a better person, more attractive. There’s been a definitive change in the hero.

10) The Road Back. Now that we see the good in the hero, this is the part when he must make a decision to return to the ordinary world. The hero realizes the special world must eventually be left behind and there are still dangers and tests ahead.

11) The Resurrection. The second life and death moment, almost a replay of the death and birth ordeal. Death and darkness get in one last desperate shot before finally being defeated. It’s the final exam on the hero’s journey. One last test to see if he really learned the lessons of his ordeal.

12) Final stage of the journey is returning with the elixir. Returning to the ordinary world but the journey is meaningless unless the hero brings back something from the special world. This doesn’t have to be a physical item but instead it can be moral or emotional.

(*The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition by Christopher Volger*)


104319349567411A new resident of Montana, Connie Ann Michael grew up in a close family on the outskirts of Seattle. Drawn to the Lord she’s followed her calling of service and has taught for twenty-six years, currently the fifth grade teacher at Crow Agency Public School, on the Crow Reservation. Connie loves her family and is lucky enough to have two grown boys. Living with her husband and two dogs in Big Sky country, Connie enjoys any activity that takes her outside and is working hard to overcome her fear of being eaten by a bear to enjoy more hiking trips in the mountains. You can follow Connie on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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