The Hero’s Journey: Phase 1, Departure

Image by Kriss Szkurlatowski


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.

The Departure

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.

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