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The Hero’s Journey: Departure Part 2: Call to Adventure


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 Herald

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.

No Options

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.

Tragic Heroes

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.

Multiple Call’s

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.


For more information, try reading:

The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition


Joseph Campbell – The Hero’s Journey

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Posted by forgotmypen - April 8, 2012 at 6:33 pm

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