Hero with a thousand faces in writing

Elements of story
March 12, 2012
Pathfinder class builds
November 28, 2012

The basic structure of this kind of story was described by Joseph Campbell. In it the protagonist follows a basic formula that is easy to tailor to any kind of story, but works best in character, milieu and token stories.


Confrontation. The protagonist is faced with a challange. It could be an event or token that they must deal with.

Destiny. The protagonist will choose to deal with the situation or are thrust into dealing with it. There is no escaping their destiny, even if not called destiny or fate it amounts to the same thing.

The journey. They leave the life they had and enter a strange new world actually or figuratively. They will face many  trials and discover new allies. Thus ready they will face ever growing challenges only to be defeated.

Darkness. The point when everything looks lost and failure looks assured. It is the point the protagonist must look deep inside themselves to find faith.

Faith. The protagonist must make a final attempt trusting in all the new allies,  talents and abilities they have learned in the journey to defeat the final obstacle.

Triumphant. The protagonist returns with his new found allies and knowledge to improve the lives of everyone.


That is the basic structure and obviously not all stories will have the hero starting the journey in the first step or have to go around helping everyone, unless they are robin hood. In most stories it is best to hit all of the beats. Short stories usually will start later in the structure than a novel which has time to dwell on each area. Short stories will usually start  and end around one of the points in the structure. It could be when they are confronted with destiny and finally accept it or at the darkest hour and when they find faith. The other steps are implied or flash backed to as needed.

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