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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The Call to Adventure is the second part of The Hero’s Journey, where the adventure is initiated. It has also been called the Inciting event, initiating incident, trigger, or catalyst. Regardless of what you call it, something has to happen to get the story moving. There are a number of ways that the Call to Adventure can occur. These methods can range from a message/messenger to some kind of disastrous event that forces the hero to take action.
Call to Adventure
There are a number of events that might move the hero into action. Those events may not even be caused by outside forces. It might be a desire that’s boiling inside the main character. Because of this, choosing the right event is key.
String of Events
A series of events/accidents may force your character into action. Most of these events/actions/words/accidents will be coincidental, and will inspire your character to take on the adventure.
Temptation might be just the right element to get your hero to take action. Temptation could include the lure of a lover, treasure, knowledge, or exploration. The desire for something might be just the thing your character needs to start his adventure.
The Call is often delivered to the hero by a character archetype called the Herald. Regardless of the Herald’s personality, he’ll always perform the same role. It’s the Herald’s job to initiate the call to adventure, and to get the story moving. A lot of the time, the hero doesn’t realize that there’s any need for change in his Ordinary World. He remains in a state of denial, and relies on crutches that he doesn’t see to stay happy. The Herald is present to kick away those crutches, and make the hero realize that he’s actually unstable. The hero will often have a difficult time in the beginning determining if the herald is good or bad.
Sometimes the Call to Adventure occurs because of the villain. The villain might invade the Ordinary World and start asking questions about the hero, or survey the area for any threats. This can sometimes alert the hero, forcing him into action.
Lack or Need
Sometimes the Call appears in the form of a lack or a need. This lack can come from the loss of anything precious, and the need to get that precious thing back.
The hero may take on the adventure because he doesn’t have any other options. The situation might become increasingly dire, until the hero just doesn’t have any choice but to take on the adventure. People in his world may even become fed up with him, and force him out.
For Tragic Hero’s, the Call may not be a positive summons, drawing the character out. It may instead come in the form of a warning of the Hero’s demise, a failed adventure, or doom.
Because stories often have a number of layers, or a certain amount of complexity… they may contain more then one Call. If necessary, don’t be afraid to include more then one. Do what you have to to get the hero out of his comfort zone.
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Categories: Character Development, Story Development Tags: about writing, call to adventure, character archetype, character development, herald, hero's journey, hero's journey steps, heroes journey, how to write, how to writing, main character, ordinary world, story development, the herald, the hero, the hero's journey, tragic heroes, writing ideas, writing lessons, writing tips