‘The Hero’s Journey’ for improved storytelling

Are you the hero of your own story?

Have you ever heard of ‘The Hero’s Journey’? It is the storytelling principle that guides most fairy tales, Hollywood movies, and good books. It is the key to delivering better stories for your book, speech, presentation, training, movie, ecourse, social media, or other copywriting.

In the departure part of the narrative, the hero or protagonist lives in the ordinary world and receives a call to go on an adventure. The hero is reluctant to follow the call but is helped by a mentor figure.

The initiation section begins with the hero traversing the threshold to an unknown or ‘special world’, where he faces tasks or trials, either alone or with the assistance of helpers.

The hero eventually reaches the central crisis of his adventure, where he must undergo ‘the ordeal’ where he overcomes the main obstacle or enemy, undergoing ‘apotheosis’ and gaining his reward (a treasure or ‘elixir’).

The hero must then return to the ordinary world with his reward. He may be pursued by the guardians of the special world, or he may be reluctant to return and may be rescued or forced to return by intervention from the outside.

In the return section, the hero again traverses the threshold between the worlds, returning to the ordinary world with the treasure or elixir he gained, which he may now use for the benefit of his fellow man. The hero himself is transformed by the adventure and gains wisdom or spiritual power over both worlds.

Guide your hero

During the journey of the hero, there is usually a ‘guide’ or a mentor’ that guides him through his adventure. You, as the storyteller or author, are the guide of both the hero and the audience of your story. You can insert bits and pieces of information when needed. You decide when the hero/audience has to do some work, draw their own conclusions, learn their own lessons, and when you will help them gently in a certain direction.

Storytelling is well known for fiction books like thrillers or romances, but it also significantly improves non-fiction books like (auto)biographies and business books. And did you know this also applies to presentations, e-courses, training, social media posts, and other copywriting? Even Zoom calls are so much better when the audience is captivated and engaged.

Many writers, speakers, coaches, and other entrepreneurs struggle with bringing their story to life. They want either too much, too fast, or the build-up of their story is too slow, losing the interest of their readers. Their characters and dialogues are not lively or realistic.

From my first publisher I have learned why it is important to make the ‘evil’ people in your story seem sympathetic at first. Author Barbara’s success story shows that some structure is even important for fiction stories.

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