Every story has a moment early on where the hero is presented with the chance to do something new and difficult. Let’s call it the adventure.
But adventures are scary and hard, and your hero may refuse—at least, temporarily.
The sudden appearance of outside obstacles is part of this powerful stage of storytelling, too. We call these archetypes the threshold guardians.
All these inner and outer refusals are a good thing. Today we’ll discuss why the hero’s refusal is my favorite stage of the hero’s journey, and how using it skillfully can deepen your storytelling and your reader’s bond with the protagonist.
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Change is hard.
It takes time.
It takes letting go of old beliefs, old behaviors, old reflexes.
It can feel raw. Like shedding a skin.
A story is a journey of change. Is it any wonder that we writers have to put our heroes through the wringer?
All through the second act, our hero must face test after test after test.
Second acts are the long middles of any story (half the length, or more, of the entire tale). Second acts are the dangerous, obstacle-laden expanse your hero must cross, like the proverbial chicken, to get to the other side.
And every step of that long, treacherous way, the hero learns. Grows. Fails and regroups. Gets braver, bolder. Faces fears, confronts hard truths, and finds herself doing things she might never have dreamed she was capable of.
The middle is long because change is hard. It takes time. It goes step by step.
Let the journey begin!
TIP: Think of the second act as a series of tests that allow your hero to...
A blank page just brings out the graffiti artist in me. Put a mark on it, quick!
But here’s the thing: writing is not made out of marks on a page. It's not made out of letters, words, sentences, paragraphs.
Good writing is made out of story. Character. Emotion. Transformation.
In a well-told tale, there’s a palpable energetic shift as both hero and reader journey from where we are at the beginning to where we end up at the tale’s thrilling, surprising, yet inevitable conclusion.
An axis has shifted. The transformation is profound and irrevocable. This tale has taken both protagonist and reader on an adventure of meaningful change.
TODAY’S TIP: Words are easily tidied up in revisions. In a first draft, dig deep and discover what happens. Your hero’s adventure may be bigger, wilder, and deeper than it first appears. What is it?
Storytellers, start your engines!