Usually the main character and star of the show, the hero of a story, is expected to overcome tremendous trials and save the world.
They all have specific qualities that tie them to numerous protagonists from thousands of stories.
Learn what defines the hero in your story here:
Most of the time, the main character of a story is responsible for tasks like saving the world, whether he/she/it chose to or not. The plot dictates what the hero faces in order to complete the task at hand, facing powerful foes or crazy elements. The video titled “What makes a hero? – Mathew Winkler” by the YouTube channel TED-Ed goes further into detail as to what is typically seen in these epics and I encourage you to see if your own story reflects the same attributes.
The video speaks about a story cycle that many heroes have followed. Here is the cycle:
Status Quo – Call to Adventure – Assistance – Departure – Trials – Approach – Crisis – Treasure – Result – Return – New Life – Resolution
Following this cycle is a great way to add shape to your story and make it more organized. Whether or not the story goes through this cycle step-by-step is up to the writer. Watching this video, I was subconsciously thinking of the old epics from ancient Greece and Roman mythologies and how they fit this cycle so well. Possibly many stories after that time could unknowingly be based off of the templates from those ancient story-tellers. And maybe their stories were influenced by the stories before them as well, going all the way back to the founding of human language. My theory is that the reason why this story outline has survived for so long is because of the inspiration it brings to the recipient. Overcoming seemingly impossible trials all for a selfless cause has became a symbol for people admire and model after. It gives a sense of hope and justice while teaching important lessons regarding life.
Captain KT time – My own story projecting this cycle
Just filling out the cycle below with my own story really opened my eyes as to how I’ve been working on this story for so long and never realized that it fit this hero formula already. I never looked at this type of outline yet my story was already following it faithfully. I guess I give credit to all of the stories I’ve read previously that conditioned me to organize it this way. I feel that they themselves were also influenced by this trend that has been around for hundreds even thousands of years. Read below to see how my story automatically filed into the hero mold (but worded in a way to not disclose spoilers).
Status Quo – My main character Ara starts off as a young child living a happy life with her mother and father
Call to Adventure – The call to adventure is from a negative outside force that forcibly splits the three person family apart. A few years later with only two family members left, that same force takes away Ara and she goes through horrible experiences that leaves a lasting impact on her
Assistance – Ara is saved by a group of people but one stands out the most. He is an older member of said group and helps her out but reluctantly. There are others who join the man’s ranks to help out Ara by balancing out her apparent flaws from the horrible experiences
Departure – Ara cannot stay in the Western region because of her issues so her group of companions are formed to take her around to all of the other regions (South, East, North, and Central) to fix these issues and help fix the issues caused in the regions
Trials – Her issues and experiences are directly linked to the other problems happening in the regions so she has to go learn about those regions and herself to help combat the invading opposing force
Approach – Ara seeks to combat the fears of the people which fuels the antagonist’s agenda.
Crisis – When Ara is unprepared to tackle specific issues, she is easily overcome by the opposing force and looses all confidence/control of the situation until her companions are able to pull her away from the point of no return. Once they do, they are able to complete their mission
Treasure – The treasure is not physical but mental enlightenment and salvation of the people. She gains recognition for her deeds although that was not her intention.
Result – SPOILERS I’m too afraid to say anything since it could give my plot twist away
Return – I wouldn’t say that everything returns to normal but apocalypse is avoided and normal is on the horrizon
New Life – The protagonists become leaders to drive the people towards a new way of living
Resolution – The cycle has ended and there is a new understanding among everyone even as they continue livingbut there are hints for a new cycle to start
This is the outline of my entire series but even the story lines of each books follow the same mold on a smaller scale. It’s just crazy how this type of organization transcends time and becomes apparent in most stories especially with the sci-fi/fantasy genres. Please leave me a reply with your thoughts on the matter!
Questions for fellow Navigators:
What stories most influential to you follow this hero construction?
Were you as surprised as I was to see these similarities between stories?
Do your own writings include these elements?
How will this impact your writings in the future?
Do you have any preexisting works that could have benefited from this knowledge?