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Writing prompts: What is the hero’s journey?

There are a lot of popular writing prompts that can help writers craft stories. Popular writing prompts include the whole man versus man / self / nature / machine, being out of place, longing, and so on. One of the most popular writing prompt is the hero’s journey. According to comparative literature student John Eilermann, the hero’s journey is a classic storyline which has been used and possibly overused in the last century.

The hero’s journey is often a linear storyline where a protagonist has a mission or a goal they must achieve. It is very similar to the Holy Grail storyline regarding having a goal. The main difference is that Holy Grail stories often have goals that are almost impossible to achieve.

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It may seem dated because of the terms but the hero’s journey is still popular among pop culture today. For example, Avatar: The Last Airbender is a great example of a hero’s journey. The goal of the protagonist is to save the world from the Fire Nation and part of the hero’s journey is to master all the elements.

The hero’s journey is often composed of three major segments: the beginning of the adventure, achieving the goal, and the end of the adventure. Within those three segments are actions that drive the narrative. These includes the introducing the drive which fuels the protagonist, facing tests, meeting allies or the antagonist, and so on.

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According to John Eilermann, the hero’s journey is also a way of reading story arcs as narratives would often fall under the same storyline. In a way, the hero’s journey is a reflection of the writer’s journey into writing as well.

John Eilermann hails from St. Louis, Missouri. Growing up, he read books by Nick Hornby, Roald Dahl, C.S Lewis, and many others. For more reads on literature, visit this website.