At this point in the Hero’s Journey, the hero is teetering on the edge between the ordinary world, and the special world. He’s crossing the threshold, and he’s about to start his adventure. He has already heard the call, and expressed all of his doubts and fears. Now, he should be ready to move on, and commit himself completely to the journey ahead.
Crossing the Threshold
This is the most critical action the hero will take in the Departure phase, where he illustrates that he’s completely committed to the journey ahead. Even that he may be willing to sacrifice himself to complete it.
Approaching the Threshold
The hero won’t usually charge head on into the adventure right after he’s done meeting with the mentor. There final commitment is usually brought on by some turning point in the story that affirms to the hero that the journey has to be fulfilled. There are a number of things that may trigger this, usually some sort of tragic event. For instance, the villain may ravage the city, or kidnap/kill someone the hero loves.
It may be an internal event that pushes them forward. The hero may ask himself “Can I go on living this way? Or can I risk everything I have for the possibility of change?”
As the hero is attempting to cross, he may encounter beings that will attempt to stop him. These are called the Threshold Guardians. They may show up at any point in the story to try and block the hero from moving forward. Usually, they’re a testing or training point for the hero. Another part of his development.
The hero must figure out how to get past these figures, and continue on. Their threat is often just an illusion, and the hero must ignore them and push through. Sometimes they just need to be acknowledged, and other times, they may become allies later.
This step is where the hero acknowledges that he has reached the border between two worlds. He must take the leap of faith, and go on, or the adventure may never begin. (Or it may result in tragedy, because the hero is afraid to take a deep breath and move on.) The Crossing can be symbolized by a number of things (even a gate, or a cliff), but the audience should sense a notable shift in energy.
After the hero makes his leap of faith, there is no turning back. This action is irrevocable, and he has no choice but to cross his fingers that he’ll land safely.
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In the Refusal of the Call, the hero has to decide whether or not he wants to accept the call. This should be a difficult decision for him, he’s being asked to enter into a great unknown. To undertake an adventure that’s riddled with danger. At first, his answer will probably be no.
Refusal of the Call
This temporary refusal alerts the audience that the adventure ahead will be risky. The hero is gambling with his life and his fortune by taking on this journey. This part of the story will force the hero to examine the adventure carefully, and decide if it’s really worth it.
Believe it or not, it’s natural for the hero to at first avoid the call, or at least to express reluctance. This reluctance should continue until some kind of stronger motivation comes into play. This could be the death of a loved one, the hero’s sense of honor, or love of adventure.
The hero will have a number of excuses as to why he’s refusing the call. They basically state that they would take on the adventure were it not for a pressing series of events (that may or may not exist). These are temporary excuses that are usually worn away by the urgency of the quest.
Persistent Refusal and Disaster
If the hero persistently refuses the call, it could lead to disaster. Continued refusal is one sign of a tragic hero. The situation around the hero can become worse and worse, until he finally decides to take up his calling. He may lose loved ones, face the destruction of the city, and more.
If the hero is facing more than one call, he may have to choose between them. The Refusal of the Call is the time for the hero to delegate between two difficult choices.
The refusal is usually a negative moment in the Hero’s Journey. However, the refusal may sometimes be a positive or wise decision. Sometimes the call takes the form of temptation, or an evil summons. In this case, the best move on the hero’s part is to say no.
While many heroes will express reluctance, there are some that will show a complete willingness to take on the adventure. This hero might have already passed his fear of death, or he might simply yearn for adventure.
If the hero does in face accept the call, there’s a character archetype that might further hinder him. These are called the threshold guardians. These characters are powerful figures that will question the hero, and raise fear and doubt. They will do what they can to test the hero’s worthiness for the quest before it even begins.
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Categories: Character Development, Story Development Tags: a progressive writing guide, character arc, hero's inner development, hero's journey, hero's journey steps, myforgottenpen, refusal of the call, the hero, the hero's journey, tragic hero, writing a book, writing a manuscript, writing guide, writing help, writing tips
I’m speaking from personal experience when I say that rewriting a beloved story can get addicting. There’s one fiction novel in particular that I’ve been working on for a total of seven years, and it’s still not complete. While this is partly due to “laziness”, and “life”, it has more to do with the fact that I’m never happy with it. My first, and maybe even second rewrite was probably justified, but as I grew older and built relationships with new people, the story kept changing. Every time the story changed I would start a new draft.
This isn’t a terrible thing. The evolution of a story is good, even necessary. In all the years of rewriting, that story has transformed from something average into something meaningful and grand. But there’s one problem: I haven’t finished it. If I keep rewriting it instead of settling for one version of the story, it’ll never be finished. This wonderful story will never be read, by anyone.
The Perfect Number of Drafts
The answer is three. After three drafts, your story or fiction novel should be finely polished. The only exception to this rule occurs when an editor or publisher asks you to write a fourth. The key to doing this lies in focusing on the right things in the right drafts.
The First Draft:
The very first draft is your rough draft. In this draft, the only thing you should worry about is the story. In order to keep your story moving forward, you also have to keep your hand moving. It can be tempting to constantly look back at the first paragraph, wondering how to improve it. The most important thing to do in the first draft is to focus on what happens next; what is currently happening in the story. Focusing on past pages and paragraphs will hinder your focus, and your progress.
Write with the door closed, with as little distractions as possible, as fast as you possibly can. Write the story quickly, and put the words down exactly as they come into your mind. This helps to eliminate self-doubt, and to keep you optimistic throughout the entire writing process. During the first draft, don’t take any help or advice from anyone else. In fact, you should be the only one to see your first draft until it’s finished.
Essentially, the most important task in the first draft is finishing the material, and getting the story down on paper. The story is the most important thing. Corrections to grammar, punctuation, and spelling will come later.
The Second Draft:
Once you’ve finished your first draft, it’s good to take a long break from your story or fiction novel. This amount of time varies on the author, but, a month is usually sufficient. The way to know for sure if it’s time to start on your second draft is based solely on whether or not you’re still thinking about it. If you’re still thinking about the plot, and what might need to be fixed, you aren’t ready to start on your second draft. This helps you to look at your story objectively, as if you’re looking at someone else’s work.
Once you’re ready to start on your second draft, get as much done in one sitting as you can. If it’s possible to pump the entire second draft out in one sitting, do that. If not, get it done in as few sitting’s as possible.
If you find any major problems with your story, don’t get upset about it. Don’t get emotionally involved, simply fix the problem and move on. Just as you would with someone else’s work.
Do your best to focus on holes in the story, scenes that could be improved. This is where you add content (if necessary), and revise the story. As you run across spelling, grammar, or punctuation problems, do your best to fix them.
The Third Draft:
The third draft is the polishing draft, and the final draft. This is the last time you look at your story, where you fix anything you might have missed when writing your second draft. This could include typo’s, grammar errors, or anything that you might have missed.
Also, after the second draft it’s not a bad idea to allow friends and family to take a look at it. (Or, frankly, anyone you feel comfortable sharing your writing with). During the third draft you’ll make any revisions that another set of eyes may have pointed out. Keep in mind that, as the author, you don’t have to make every change that your second pair of eyes sees. However, another person is likely to find errors in the story that you may not have noticed yourself. Generally, it’s good to have more then one other person look at your story. Different people will see different things. If more then one person sees a problem, you’ll likely have to fix it in the third draft.
Rewriting can get addicting, but after a certain amount of rewrite‘s, it becomes a form of procrastination. It’s usually fear that keeps you from completing that story, and taking the next step–submitting it to a publisher. Don’t let fear stop you, do the necessary amount of revisions/rewrite’s, and then call it finished. Submit it into a publisher, and then move onto your next work.
The writing and revision process varies with every author, this is just what I recommend. Adapt it if you must, and find what works best for you. But, whatever you do, don’t spend years rewriting a single story. At some point it has to be done with.
What do you think? What’s your revision process? Feel free to share in the comments.
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