Hero’s Ordinary World Special World of the Journey Back to the Ordinary World
12 Steps of Hero’s Journey: Hero’s Ordinary World Special World of the Journey Back to the Ordinary World
1) The Ordinary World Shows the regular world, hero’s normal environment EX: Amir and Hassan fly kites every winter, play games, and read stories. Hassan always stands up and protects Amir.
2) The Call to Adventure Hero is presented with a challenge or adventure (usually by a herald) Establishes stakes of the game and hero’s goal (win treasure, lover, revenge, right a wrong, change a life, confront challenge) EX: Hassan is attacked and raped by Assef and thugs.
3) The Refusal of the Call Hero is not fully committed, thinks of turning back. Fear. Some further influence causes hero to cross the threshold and overcome fear. EX: Amir can’t stand up to Assef and feels guilty for what happened to Hassan. Because of his guilt, he frames Hassan which causes Ali and Hassan to leave.
4) Meeting with the Mentor Hero meets Mentor. Mentor trains hero to face unknown (gives advice, sometimes magical weapons) EX: Baba, Rahim Khan, and Hassan. *This step can happen at any time before the hero enters the special world—may not be in order.
5) Into the Special World (Crossing the 1st Threshold) Hero finally commits to adventure, enters Special World of the story. Story really gets rolling. Turning point between Ordinary and Special World EX: Afghanistan becomes too dangerous and Amir and Baba are smuggled out of the country and start a new life in America.
6) Tests, Allies, and Enemies The hero may encounter several Threshold Guardians The hero makes friends and enemies The hero learns the rules of the Special World. EX: Amir and Baba must adapt to life in America. Amir works to become a writer. Meets Soraya and her family. Baba gets sick w/ cancer and dies. Amir and Soraya get married and try to have children but can’t. Amir spends this time of his life writing about Afghanistan and overcoming his past.
7) Approaching the Inmost Cave Most dangerous place. Sometimes actually underground, but sometimes a metaphorical “cave” Where object of quest is hidden Sometimes the headquarters of the villain. EX: Rahim Khan calls Amir when he is ill and asks him to come to Pakistan. Amir hears about Hassan’s story and must find Sohrab. He must summon up courage to do this himself and is tempted to turn back.
8) The Supreme Ordeal Fortune of hero hits rock bottom. Direct confrontation with Shadow (villain, hero’s greatest fear, or both) Audience wonders if hero will live or die. EX: Amir finds Sohrab being held by Assef. He must fight Assef as payment for taking Sohrab and is nearly beaten to death. Sohrab shoots Assef’s eye out and they make an escape.
9) Seizing the Sword (the Reward) Hero defeats Shadow, celebration! (usually love scene or comedy here) Hero takes possession of treasure. Could be weapon, elixir, knowledge, love, object. Hero may settle a conflict with a parent. EX: Though he is beaten up, Amir feels relief from his emotional burden. Sohrab is free again.
10) The Road Back Hero is not out of the woods. Has to deal with consequences of confronting Shadow. Sometimes dark forces chase hero here. Decision that special world must be left. EX: Upon returning to Pakistan, Amir discovers that it is nearly impossible to get Sohrab adopted. Sohrab doesn’t want to go back to the orphanage and tries to commit suicide in the bathtub.
11) The Resurrection 2nd life-or-death moment. Shadow gets one last shot at hero. Hero is tested to see if he or she really learned the lessons from the Supreme Ordeal. Hero is transformed by these life-or-death moments, will be able to return to ordinary world “reborn” with new insights. EX: Though Sohrab is in critical condition, Amir doesn’t want to fail after getting so far. He prays for the first time in 15 years. Sohrab recovers, is adopted, but refuses to talk.
12) Return with the Elixir Hero returns to ordinary world, bringing back elixir, treasure, and/or lesson from special world. EX: At an Afghan gathering in the park, Amir flies a kite with Sohrab, and Sohrab makes a hint of a smile. Amir takes this as a sign that things will get better after a while. Amir and Soraya finally find the child they have wanted, and Amir has found a way to be good again.
Now, you try: Think of a story you know well. Figure out 12 steps of your story. Hints: Label Ordinary and Special world. Turning point between two is Step 5 Figure out Steps 8 and 11, then fill in 7, 9, and 10. Who is the mentor? Hero meets him/her in Step 4.