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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Imagine if you will: You're in a serious funk, and for good reason. Your father has died (the circumstances? Mysterious!), and his death should have made you king, but your creepy uncle swooped in and married your mother and now it's creepy uncle who's king, not you.
And now your best friend, your ride-or-die, has come to you with a wild tale: A ghost has been spotted by the guards, not once, not twice, but three nights in a row, wandering the ramparts of the castle. Your pal (we’ll call him Horatio) has seen it with his own eyes.
Dude, says Horatio. I'm serious. It looks like your Dad. You need to come talk to the ghost.
Who wouldn't want to keep reading a story that starts like that? Our hero Hamlet is in a pickle for sure, but good storytelling demands that he DO something about it.
You need to come talk to the ghost. Hamlet does so, only to have the ghost challenge him to even bigger task: I was murdered, the ghost tells...