Adventure novels have a specific structure, commonly called the hero’s journey, or the hero’s adventure. The hero’s journey structure can be used not only in adventure stories, but in romance, science fiction and other genres as well. We have presented the journey and its stages below. The stages of the hero’s journey are open to interpretation by the writer – and it is the different interpretation by every author that ensures every story is different and entertaining. The hero’s journey encompasses the whole story – the plot, the portrayal of the characters, and the protagonist’s character arc. As such, it can be used multiple times in one story if the story follows multiple point of view characters. Every stage of the hero’s journey is accompanied by a different set of characters – from allies to enemies, and being aware of the stages of the journey will help every author in plotting and structuring their novel.
1. The call to action
At the beginning, we need to meet the hero in his ordinary world. Depending on the nature of the story, and the importance of the new world the hero is about to enter, the writer can choose to show the readers more or less details of the ordinary world. After that, the ordinary world is shattered by the arrival of the messenger who calls upon the hero to solve a problem, or save a loved one from danger – a call to action that forces the hero to make a choice to heed the call, or stay in the normal world. Either way, the ordinary world has been shattered. The hero attends to the call and abandons the ordinary world, or he doesn’t answer the call, and continues living in the ordinary world with the knowledge that he is needed some place else. In most stories, the hero heeds the call and sets off on a life-changing journey.
2. The beginning of the journey
In the second stage, the hero enters the new world. Due to the nature of the story, the new world can be a world that he has left behind previously in his life, or a completely new world to him. This is the stage where he discovers the world, and where world building is of utmost importance, as it shows the endless possibilities and directions the story can take. During this stage, the hero enters deeper into the mystery that he needs to solve, and begins to find clues that will bring him closer to the truth. The hero is joined by an array of characters who will prove to be allies, enemies, or both, later in the story.
3. The test period
In this stage of the journey, the hero will face one or more tests which will determine his willingness to continue with the journey. At this point, the hero can turn back, give up, or continue forward, facing even bigger threats – threats to his physical health, his relationships with the other characters, and threats to his life. In this stage, some, if not most of his enemies will show their true faces – or show enough for the hero to suspect them, which has an impact on the overall story, as the real enemy might still be hiding under the mask of friendship and benevolence.
4. The major ordeal
The test period has served to prepare the hero for the major ordeal – the final battle against his enemy, against the antagonist. The stakes have risen high, and many things depend on the outcome of the ordeal, be it his life, his health, or his happiness. Here, the hero needs to choose whether he will really do his duty (what the call for action needed him to do), or whether he will choose to find a different kind of resolve to the problem. This is the stage where he faces the enemy – who might be vastly different than him, or maybe even very similar. Depending on the nature of the protagonist and the antagonist, the possibilities for the resolve of the major conflict are endless.
5. The choice: go back or stay
After the major conflict has been resolved, the hero faces a choice: go back to his ordinary world, or stay in the new world. In book series, for example, the hero chooses to stay in the new world to resolve more mysteries and go on different adventures, which have been hinted at in the previous stages of the journey. Of course, the hero can choose to stay in the new world in standalone novels too – especially if a major part of the journey was internal and the hero needed to change himself and his view upon the world. Or the hero can choose to go back to the ordinary world because he feels that that’s where he belongs and needs to be, despite the change that has happened to the ordinary world, and to his personality as a result of the journey.
Image credit: Pixabay[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/photo.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As an art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.