Book Reviews Information


Story Structure - Classic Hero's Journey


The Classical Hero's Journey is one of the most detailed story structures containing 106 sequences overall and 32 in Act III alone.

A descendant of Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces and containing references to all the normal and less usual Archetypes: Peer Brothers, the Failed Hero and more, it allows the screen or story writer to quickly map out a step outline, template or first draft screenplay.

The Classical Hero's Journey follows the universal story pattern ("there is in reality only one story"); the first ten sequences are very briefly summarised here:

1. An overview of the environment and context the story will take place in. Usually shots of the city, events, people interactions, events, narrative or some combination of above or similar. Sometimes an explanation is in order depending on the complexity involved.

2. Antagonist captures Princess. Princess sends Heralds to find rescuer - someone with a reputation and history of success against the antagonist; someone who may be able to assist in some way or similar. Often an Old Knight. If Heralds are more than one, they may conflict in some way. Establish evil nature of antagonist. Establish good nature of Princess. Herald(s) may be forced into the journey. Antagonist's lieutenants may, through a mistake, lack of intelligence, some sort of deception or similar allow the Herald(s) to escape. Antagonist chases Herald's in the belief (may be mistaken) that they Herald's are dangerous, are important people, have something important in their possession, cannot let word of the Princess' capture get out or similar.

3. The Herald(s) journey is full of difficulties. If the Herald's are more than one, they may be separated for some reason. Some may die before finding help.

4. Antagonist's lieutenants are hot on the heels of the Herald(s).

5. If Herald's are separated, they are united. Else they approach the place where help may be at hand and the story reverts to being that of the Hero and not theirs.

6. The Hero is introduced. Along with the Interdictor, Hawks, Doves and perhaps others. The interaction between the characters illustrates their roles.

7. Heralds are not recognised by the Hero. It may be by pure chance that the Hero and Heralds meet. Others may have an interest in blocking the meeting.

8. Hero and Heralds interact in a safe, quiet place. Usually a place where the Hero feels comfortable. Herald's inform the Hero of their backstory, the World of the Ordeal. There are references to a Mentor. The Heralds present the Hero with a Call to Adventure.

9. The Interdictor presents an interdiction that prevents the Hero from embarking on the adventure. The interdictive nature of the Interdictor is expanded upon. There are references to the Peer Brother - that the Interdictor is preventing the Hero from growing to the level of the Peer Brother. References to the Hero's mysterious birth, his lack of knowledge of his parenthood and descendents. References to the Mentor. Hawks, Doves and Interdictor may debate the pros and cons of issuing the Interdiction. The secret desire of the Hero to embark on the adventure is illustrated.

10. Through some outside event, the Hero is forced into the adventure. He leaves in the dead of night, aware that he is violating the interdiction and aware of the danger. The danger of breaking the interdiction is expanded.

The Classical Hero's Journey Story and Screenplay Structure can be found at http://www.managing-creativity.com.

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Kal Bishop, MBA

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You are free to reproduce this article as long as no changes are made and the author's name and site URL are retained.

Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached on http://www.managing-creativity.com


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