Journey of a Classical Hero   Leave a comment

by Elizabeth Huff


Most of the heroes you read or watch go through these steps in their journey towards a happy (or unhappy) ending. Sometimes the steps are changed, merged, re-ordered, and some are left out altogether, but the basic plan is always there. Here are the 5 steps in the journey of a classical hero so that you can use them to plan the journey and changes in your own characters.


  • A Call to Adventure – The hero can either accept or decline this call, but even if he declines keep in mind that there will need to be some catalyst to get the hero started on his adventure. Also there must be some goal that the hero is trying to reach or something that he needs to get.
  • A Road of Trials – This is what generally makes up the second act of a 3 act story. There should be a series of escalating hardships which the hero must try to overcome. The hero doesn’t always have to win, in fact sometimes it creates more tension if the hero loses once in a while.
  • Achieving the Goal – This will probably take place towards the end of the story. The hero gets (or fails to get) what he was after in step one. Either way the hero must learn something about himself and change because of it. Not always for the better.
  • A Return to the Ordinary World – This is ultimately when the hero succeeds or fails, but in some stories this step is left out. Basically the hero must go back to where he started. His/Her “home”. This doesn’t necessarily mean a physical location. If the hero was thrust into a magical war in step one, he is now no longer fighting, but is back to his ordinary life. If the hero was trying to win a wrestling championship, he is now done (whether he won or lost).
  • Application of the Goal – This is where the hero shows how he has changed. Whether it is one line or an entire scene, for better or worse, the hero has to show he has changed. Usually the hero uses whatever he’s learned to improve the world, but if the hero has failed or succeeded in a way that he didn’t expect he may have to show he’s changed in a darker way. Never fear if your hero dies by the way. It’s still quite a change from him being alive like he was in the first step.

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