Pacing, Part 11: The Hero’s Journey.

I’m working on a series on pacing.  You can see other posts in the series here.

Here are the stages of the Hero’s Journey:

  •  Departure.
    • Call to Adventure.
    • Refusal of the Call.
    • Supernatural Aid.
    • Crossing the First Threshold.
    • Belly of the Whale.
  • Initiation.
    • The Road of Trials.
    • The Meeting with the Goddess.
    • The Woman as Temptress.
    • Atonement with the Father.
    • Apotheosis.
    • The Ultimate Boon.
  • Return.
    • Refusal of the Return.
    • The Magic Flight.
    • Rescue from Without.
    • The Crossing of the Return Threshold.
    • Master of Two Worlds
    • Freedom to Live

Wait…aren’t those the stages you’re familiar with?  That’s because what’s being taught as “The Hero’s Journey” or the monomyth currently…isn’t.

The Hero’s Journey doesn’t apply to every story; it doesn’t really even apply to the ones that people say it’s being used on–a bajillion Hollywood movies, for example. What most people use is an adaptation by Christopher Vogler, in The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers.  His structure in its earliest format became commonish knowledge in 1992.

The point being here is that the plot events impose a certain pacing on a story.  The same number of events, in the same order (more or less), the same trials, the same resolutions.

Whether that’s the most appropriate pacing or not.

You can struggle to push that template onto “The Cask of Amontillado,” but it would screw up the story if you tried to write the same revenge story using the Hero’s Journey plot.

I’m making a big deal of this because continuously using the Hero’s Journey is something that will leave you blind to pacing at the plot level.

Stories shouldn’t be built the same way, even at the plot level.  Every story has an appropriate plot that fits it.

And that plot is not consistently the Hero’s Journey.

Looking for more writing advice?  I’m adding a writer’s resources section to the Wonderland Press newsletter.  Click here to sign up.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top