Many stories have been written using the hero’s journey. It’s a brilliant tool for plotting. Let’s break the hero’s journey down in 8 easy steps.
1. A Call to Adventure
The beginning of our hero’s journey starts with a call to adventure. It can be a quest or an invitation, maybe even a refusal of a call. Either way, the hero will end up on a path directly into the heart of our hero’s journey.
This call to adventure needs to be enticing enough that the hero doesn’t have a choice but to accept. Sometimes, the hero will have no other option. There would be no story without the call to adventure. This is the beginning of our story.
2. The Helpers of the Story
This is the plot point in the story when we meet our hero’s helpers, or the mentor. Our hero can’t go on the hero’s journey all alone, can they? Well, I guess they can, but that’s hardly any fun. What would our favorite stories be without our helper characters?
Ron and Hermione. Han Solo and Chewbacca. The minions. These are the characters that readers will fall in love with. Your hero needs them not only to continue on the hero’s journey, but to stay sane on the way. It’s essential that you include characters that will guide your hero in your story.
3. The Journey’s Trials
The trials in the hero’s journey build momentum in the story. It needs to strengthen your hero and get them ready to face what is their last obstacle. The trials are exciting but can be different in every story. Make these plot points a rollercoaster ride in your hero’s journey. Something that adds depth to your story.
Think of everything Harry Potter faced as he learned to become a wizard, or the struggles Bilbo Baggins faced on his trip with Thorin and Company. These are the trials that let the readers understand the hero better. They are essential to the story, and some of the most important plot points.
4. A Revelation
The revelation is the point in the hero’s journey that our hero realizes something important. It has been right in front of them the entire time, but only now are they seeing it. It should be a tremendous relief to audiences that they finally learned this useful information in the story.
This usually happens midway through the story and helps our hero to figure out what to do next. They might need to create a new goal, or try a fresh approach to the existing goal. The revelation is an important plot point in the hero’s journey.
5. The Hero’s Transformation
We’ve seen our favorite heros transform before our eyes. It might be a makeover, the hero receiving powers, or realizing something important about themselves. There are many ways to go about a hero’s transformation in your story.
They categorized heroic transformation into five different categories: emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, and moral. – Allison & Smith’s Reel Heroes (2015)
One thing that is the same through these transformations is the result. The hero is different now, with new attributes that allow them to understand something they didn’t before. People might treat them differently, and they might be different too. It depends on the hero’s journey.
Your hero isn’t perfect. No one is. Throughout the story, it’s likely your hero has made mistakes. Maybe there’s a rift in a relationship, or an item your character stole. This is the time in the hero’s journey for the wrongs to be righted.
The hero should mend their broken relationships. The hero’s journey might be full of plot points where our hero made a poor decision. It needs to be clear they learned from that mistake. By fixing it, they are gaining something, whether that be a companion or a lesson. Only through atonement will they be ready to face their last task.
This is the plot point in the story for the hero to face their last trial. The biggest conflict. This is what your story has been building up to. Luke Skywalker destroying the Death Star, or Katniss Everdeen and Peeta winning The Hunger Games.
You need to make this plot point one to remember. It should be memorable and satisfying. This is the plot point your readers will talk about when they chat about the story. It’s an exciting moment!
8. Return to the Ordinary, or Better World
Once our hero has faced their challenges and won, they return to their daily life. It’s the end of the hero’s journey. Perhaps it’s the same ordinary life they came from, but they return as a better person after the journey. Maybe the hero’s journey brought them somewhere new to live their life.
Either way, it’s the moment we let our hero go, to get back to their life. Now, they have learned lessons, made connections and gave us an exciting story. The return to life is different at the end of every hero’s journey.
The hero’s journey comes directly from Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. For more information on the hero’s journey, read up on Campbell’s work:
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 2004. Print.
For a more detailed version of the hero’s journey, watch Matthew Winkler’s Ted Talk on the hero’s journey. It includes the full 12 plot points of the hero’s journey with significant detail and animation.
Smith, G., & Allison, S. T. (2015). Reel Heroes & Villains. Richmond, VA: Agile Writer Press.
VIA Classification of Character Strengths. (2016). Retrieved from