Innovative Literacy - Call to Adventure - Steps of the Hero's Journey - How to Write a Novel Using Character Archetypes

Call to Adventure – Steps of the Hero’s Journey

Students have read, heard, or watched many stories in their lifetimes. These stories share similar characteristics and as such can be used to create a scaffold for students to use when creating their novels. The Call to Adventure – Steps of the Hero’s Journey is based on the research Joseph Campbell completed in the 1940s.

After studying myths from different parts of the world, Joseph Campbell noticed that many of these stories were strikingly similar. For example, there are numerous Cinderella stories in different cultures. He came up with the concept of the monomyth which is all mythical narratives are variations of one story.

In The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Campbell introduced the idea of the hero’s journey. These ideas have been refined over the years with slight alterations, but like the myths themselves, share the same central structure. The Call to Adventure – Steps of the Hero is a version is meant to be a starting point for students to be introduced both to the concept of the monomyth and hero’s journey. They also serve as a basis for the backbone of novels which they can write.


Everything is Normal

The first step or stage is when the hero and his or her friends are introduced to the reader. The setting is also established at this step. This is when everything is normal in the world.

Herald of Change

The next step is when something changes in the life of the hero. Usually, this is accompanied by something, whether a person or sign, that lets the reader know things are about to change.  A herald is might arrive in the form of a robot who bears a message. The herald might also be an owl bringing a letter calling the hero to adventure. A herald might even read a notice telling all the fairy tale creatures to move into a swamp owned by an ogre.

Call to Adventure

Because of the arrival of the herald of change, the hero is called to adventure. For example, Harry Potter gets a letter from Hogwarts. Luke Skywalker gets a message from Princess Leia. An ogre might be unable to live in his own house and have to leave the swamp to go do something about the influx of fairy tale creatures.

Meeting the Mentor

The hero usually meets a mentor around the same time. Usually, this person is a bearded old wise man. He might be an old Jedi or a wizard with a beard. Either way, the mentor will help out the hero.

Bestowing the Gift

This mentor often gives the hero a magical item, knowledge, or training. This might take the form of a lightsaber or a magical wand. The hero is given the gift to face future adventures. 

Preparing for the Journey

The hero begins preparing for the journey. This preparation might take the form of training with a lightsaber or locating a man with a fast spaceship. The hero might need to buy something, such as books or a magic wand. Either way, the hero prepares himself/herself either mentally or physically for the journey ahead. This might involve practicing with the gift bestowed upon them.

The Journey Begins

This step is when the hero actually begins the journey. Often there is a threshold guardian. This threshold guardian tries to stop the hero from moving on. For example, stormtroopers might be searching for certain droids. A new wizard might have to figure out how to get past a magical tree or a magical brick wall. It might even consist of an ogre having to fight for the right to go find a princess to get his swamp back.

Trials of Resolve

During the trials of resolve, the hero has to overcome many obstacles. These obstacles might be physical such as a long distance or people who might want to stop the hero. They might be mental obstacles are well, such as overcoming a fear. Each obstacle tests the hero is some new way, such as his/her courage or fighting skills. There are usually at least three of these challenges.

The Darkest Hour

After defeating the challenges that faced the hero, he/she then faces his/her darkest hour. Things get really dark and dangerous and the hero begins to lose hope. Often this means entering some deep, dark, dangerous cave. Maybe a friend is hurt. The hero usually suffers a setback, such as being defeated, at least temporarily.

Confronting Evil

The hero is able to bounce back and goes to confront the big bad villain after surviving the darkest hour. By this time, the hero has become a formidable opponent and is ready to go against for the final battle. They are about to finally deal with the problem that caused them to answer the call to adventure.

The Final Fight

The hero has the huge final fight and barely wins. This usually includes someone saving the hero at the last minute. The hero gets the reward they were looking for which is often just stopping the villain’s plan. Other times it might be an ogre getting his swamp back. 

Back Home Again

The hero returns to the regular world.  Loose ends of the story are wrapped up. The world is safe once again. This final step is when everything is right in the world once again. For example, not only might an ogre have his swamp back, but he might have also found love. Even though the hero is back home, the hero has been changed because they answered the call to adventure.

Starting Students On Their Own Call To Adventure

After the students have learned about the Call to Adventure, Steps of the Hero, they can begin using premade prompts to write their own novel. The Magic Mirror novel writing prompts follow the Call to Adventure format and will provide the students with examples of what to write.

Students can then move on to the Through the Portal novel writing prompts or use the Call to Adventure steps to create their own stories. If you would like to know more about the Through the Portal writing prompts. please subscribe and a link will be emailed to you. This will enable the students to choose between writing a fantasy or a science fiction novel.



If you are interested in a great TED Talk video about the hero’s journey, I would suggest the following video.

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