Initiation is the second phase of the Hero’s Journey, where the journey really starts to get interesting. This blog post will summarize this phase of the Hero’s Journey, consisting of 4 parts: “The Road of Trials”, “Approach to the Inmost Cave”, “The Ordeal”, and “The Reward”.
The Hero’s Journey truly begins here, and he has a long road ahead of him.
Part 1: The Road of Trials
The hero is now fully immersed in a mysterious new world, and has truly began his journey. There’s no turning back now. This can be both an exciting and frightening experience for the hero. All the rules are new, and he has to figure out the correct path in this strange new world. This world should create a strong contrast for the audience. The Hero will be tested, and new territory will be explored.
Part 2: Approach to the Inmost Cave
By this point, the hero has adjusted to this new world, and is ready to reach into the heart of it. He’s now reaching the very center of the Hero’s Journey, and he will again come across the Threshold Guardians, protecting it. Here, they will have to prepare for a great ordeal. At this point, the hero is about to reach the peak of the story.
Part 3: The Ordeal
The Ordeal is like the climax of the story. The hero is standing in the Inmost Cave, and he must face a fearsome enemy. At this point the hero must show true heroism. This is where the hero is reborn, and he must die in order to do so. In one way or another, the hero must face death (or a symbolic version of death, such as their greatest fear), and recover from it.
Part 4: The Reward
The Ordeal has passed, and the hero must now face the consequences of surviving death. He can now claim his reward for overcoming The Ordeal. The hero should be recognized and awarded for surviving death.
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Categories: Character Development, Story Development Tags: approach to the inmost cave, character arc, character development, character traits, characters, creative writing, departure, different personality types, hero cycle, hero's inner development, hero's journey, heroes journey, initiation, journey of a hero, make a character arc, myforgottenpen a progressive writing guide, mythic structure for writers, personality traits, phase 1, road of trials, the hero's journey, the ordeal, the reward, the writers journey, write, writers, Writing, writing guide, writing help, writing tips
This is the start of a series of blog posts discussing The Hero’s Journey. I first brought up the Hero’s Journey in my last blog post concerning the Character Arc, and I thought it might benefit some people to go into further detail about the subject. Note that this is a rather large topic, and I’ll only be able to cover so much of it in this blog. If you’re interested, and you’d like more in-depth information, try reading:The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition.
This blog post will summarize the Departure phase of the Hero’s Journey, which will be expanded into five parts: The Ordinary World, Call to Adventure, Refusal of the Call, Supernatural Aid, and Crossing the Threshold.
This blog article is part 1 of The Hero’s Journey, and will outline the Departure phase. The Departure phase regards the Hero’s Journey before the quest, and it has 5 parts.
Part 1: The Ordinary World
The Ordinary World is all about creating an atmosphere for the story. When the story is still in the Ordinary World, try focusing on the title, the very first image (or opening image), the prologue (if you feel that you need one), contrast, foreshadowing, inner and outer problems, dramatic question, making an entrance, and introducing the hero (which contains many elements in itself.) It may sound complicated, but don’t panic. This is where you establish the story.
Part 2: Call to Adventure
The Call to Adventure has also been referred to as the Inciting Incident, or Inciting Event. This is where the story picks up, and the adventure begins. The Call to Adventure usually occurs as some sort of large event. A messenger, declaration of war, etc.. The elements may include synchronicity, temptations, change, reconnaissance, disorientation/discomfort, lack/need, no options, warnings, or more then one call. This, really, is where the story begins.
Part 3: Refusal of the Call
In this part of the story, the hero responds to the Call to Adventure. Keep in mind that your hero is being asked to say yes to a difficult and unknown passage. His natural response, at first, should be to hesitate, and say no. This is the best way to inform your audience that the adventure head is going to be dangerous. This part of the adventure may include avoidance, excuses, persistent refusal/tragedy, conflicting calls, positive refusal, artist as hero, threshold guardians, secret doors, and questioning the journey.
Part 4: Meeting with the Mentor
The mentor’s service to the hero may include: protection, guidance, testing, training, and providing magical gifts. In this stage of the journey, the hero gains the knowledge and confidence he needs to overcome fear and begin the adventure. This part of the journey may include: hero’s/mentors, sources of wisdom, misdirection, mentor/hero conflict, and critical influence.
Part 5: Crossing the Threshold
The hero now stands at the very threshold of adventure. This is the hero’s most crucial action, beginning the adventure. This part of the story may include: approaching the threshold, threshold guardians, the crossing, and a rough landing.
Categories: Character Development, Story Development Tags: call to adventure, character arc, character development, character traits, characters, creative writing, crossing the threshold, departure, different personality types, hero cycle, hero's inner development, hero's journey, journey of a hero, make a character arc, myforgottenpen a progressive writing guide, mythic structure for writers, personality traits, phase 1, refusal of the call, supernatural aid, the hero's journey, the ordinary world, the writers journey, write, writers, Writing, writing guide, writing help, writing tips
There are two types of characters: static characters, and round characters. The difference between these two types of characters is simple: round characters experience change, static characters don’t. While a round character may go through a dramatic change or realization throughout the course of the story line, a static character never will. A static character will always stay the same.
Essentially, a static character will never experience a character arc. By using a static character as your main character, you lose that opportunity. This doesn’t mean that it’s a bad idea to use a static character in your story, but you do run the risk of making your character less likable. Readers like imperfect characters that can grow. However, there are always exceptions. For instance, you may be trying to write an unorthodox story, or you may be trying to prove a point with your story. You may not even want the readers to like your character. Whatever the case, choose a character that will help your story move.
So, say you’ve chosen a round character. Now you have to develop a character arc for him to follow as the story progresses. Where do you go from there?
What is a Character Arc?
Essentially a character arc is a path of growth and development that the character takes throughout a story. Whether he takes this path of his own free will or not, he should wrestle with and overcome some sort of fear, or limitation.
The Right Character
No character should be perfect. A realistic and likable character will have imperfections and weaknesses, just like a regular person. This is crucial, because it will help the reader to relate to your character, and keep reading. The character should have some tragic flaw that he overcomes by the end of the story. At the very least, he should grow in some way or another. Just remember that you’re character is human, and remember to stay honest to him. His actions should be believable.
Character Arc and Conflict
The character arc often relates to an inner conflict that the character is experiencing. Inner conflict can be defined as a war with oneself. There are many possibilities for inner conflict; good or evil, war or peace, love or hate, etc.. The character arc will decide the outcome of said inner conflict, and will ultimately decide what your character chooses. The character arc will also effect how your character reacts to outer conflicts, and how he may make the situation better or worse.
The Hero’s Journey: Formula for a Character Arc
The Hero’s Journey, essentially, is a character arc formula. It also relates to the general path that and epic story should take. Many famous stories follow this path, such as Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. Note, that this is a very basic summary of the Hero’s Journey. If you’d like a more in-depth explanation, try reading: “The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition“. Included are a couple diagrams representing the hero’s journey, and the hero’s inner development.
In each stage of the Hero’s Journey, there are several steps the hero must take before reaching the next stage. Those steps are represented in the diagrams to the left. For the purpose of this blog post, I’m going to ignore each individual step (for now, I plan on going into more detail on the Hero’s Journey in future blog posts), and summarize each stage.
The Departure phase deals with the hero’s adventure prior to the quest. In the beginning of the story, the hero is unsatisfied or bored with his current life. He experiences a “Call to Adventure”; destiny is calling him to leave his current life and pursue his new adventure. He becomes aware that something needs to change. At first he refuses the call, for fear or hesitation, until a mentor or a driving force convinces him otherwise. So, the hero accepts the call, and begins his quest. The hero experiences his final separation from his world and himself.
He shows that he’s willing to undergo a change. This is where his character arc begins.
In the “initiation” phase, the hero experiences a number of challenges on the way to his ultimate goal. In the beginning of this stage the hero will undergo a number of trials that further progress his character arc. The hero then meets with “The Goddess” or, the love of his life. He then experiences temptations that may cause him to stray from his ultimate goal or path. Upon overcoming the temptation, he moves into the central part of his adventure. Here, the hero encounters a force that holds incredible power in his life. After the encounter, the hero transcends into a state of peace, knowledge, and fulfillment. He then achieves his goal, and obtains what he went on his journey to get.
The “Return” deals with the part of the story where the hero returns to his home with the knowledge and power he’s found on his journey. But having found those things on his journey, he may be hesitant to return home. Or, some force may be trying to prevent him from leaving. Often, it’s just as dangerous returning from the journey as it was achieving the ultimate goal. From there, he’ll often need guidance to return home, retain, and spread the wisdom he’s gained along the way. The character needs to find a balance between his home world, and the world outside it. He then needs to obtain freedom, from fear, death, or weakness. This is where he transcends, and completes his character arc.
3 Types of Character Arcs
Your hero should transform in a way that’s unique to him. Here are some examples of character arcs, but keep in mind that there are endless possibilities, depending on your hero’s characteristics.
The “Stubborn” Hero
This is the character that stubbornly holds onto a certain belief or attitude, usually one that’s wrong or immoral. For the beginning part of the story, he refuses to think any other way. As the story progresses, he gradually begins to see things the other way, until his opinion changes entirely.
The “Conflicted” Hero
This character also suffers from a belief that may be wrong or immoral. However, this character suffers from an internal conflict that builds throughout the story. Evidence keeps building that his original frame of mind is incorrect. At the end of the story, he should take a leap of faith, and choose one or the other.
The “Tragic” Hero
This is the character that, usually struggling from an internal conflict, falls in a downward spiral throughout the story. He experiences change, but the change isn’t good, and he ultimately makes the wrong decision… leading towards a tragic ending.
Creating Your Own Character Arc
This article is intended only to help writers create their own character arcs. While it’s safe to follow a formula, it might not be the best thing for your character, or your story. Choose what works best for your story, and stick with that. If what’s best completely eliminates “formula”, and “rules”, don’t panic. Sometimes the unorthodox approach is the best approach.
Categories: Character Development Tags: call to adventure, character arc, conflict, departure, fiction writing tips, hero's inner development, hero's journey, make a character arc, mythic structure for writers, round characters, static characters, the hero's journey, the writers journey, tragic flaw, writing tips