Está en la página 1de 176




and the








Table of Contents
The Writer and the Hero's Journey
Module One: The Hero's Mindset
Exercises 1

Module Two: Emergence

Exercises 2
Module Three: Road of Trials
Exercises 3

Module Four: Master of Worlds

Exercises 4
Conclusion: A Call to Action

Review This Book

Rob Parnells Writing Resources
Connect With Rob Parnell

True wisdom is less presuming. The wise man doubts often andchanges his
mind; thefool is obstinate, anddoubts not, he kno ws all things but his own



**We must be willing toget ridof the life we've planned, so as to have the life
that is waitingfor us. "
Joseph Campbell

This book is aimed primarily at writers - or would-be writers - who

want a better understanding of ideal story structure. It is meant for the
seasoned professional as much as for the beginner. It is also directed
towards people who seek a fuller appreciation of the purpose of life in
general. All of us ask at some point. Why are we here, what's it allfor ell,
the fact is, we're engaged in our own personal hero's journey writers,
perhaps, more than most,

If there's any particular purpose to our lives it is most likely to fully

participate in the majesty of existence and, most importantly, to grow and
change for the better as human beings. Of course, we do this in large and
small ways throughout the course of our lives. We do it by making
decisions daily and by moving towards our short and long derm objectives;
by setting goals and reaching beyond our capabilities. If we are not tested
by life and circumstance, we must often resort to testing ourselves,
through intention and the use of our ambitious nature. But not is some idle

way. It is our duty to push ourselves, to change who we are on a regular

basis; to create new realities for ourselves and others and thereby co-create
the evolving universe,
If you're lacking a sense of purpose, or don't see the connections
between the seemingly random elements in youx existence, then this book
may teach you to better understand life's lessons and gain some sense of
symmetry and meaning from recognizing patterns, I hope this knowledge,
too, will dramatically enhance your skill as a writer,
There are four distinct threads in this book:

1. The hero !s journey as itpertains tofiction writing

When it comes to structuring timeless stories, the hero's journey is
widely accepted as the ideal template for a fictional construct. The hero's
journey, according to many sources, is a structure that is implicit in our
makeup and has therefore become interwoven into the fabric of our
storytelling since the invention of writing. When we read about fictional
characters, it's human nature to want to see them overcome obstacles to
their growth. Whether that's by taming a monster, finding true love or by
defeating inner demons, the hero's journey provides an ideal template on
which to drape a character's progress throughout a story,


2, The hero journey as it relates to writers

To me, the serious writer is folly engaged in a hero's journey: leaving

the ordinary world behind to venture forth on a mission, a journey of selfdiscovery, The would-be writer must learn the craft, and get used to a
whole new way of looking at the world, only to be tested, exposed to
criticism, rejection, praise, adulation and fans and a new kind of selfawareness, When we navigate the 'slings and arrows of outrageous
fortune', we hopefully emerge triumphant, reborn as successful writers, as
artists to whom the world becomes a place of creativity and renewed
relevance. Over the course of this book, I will draw parallels between the
hero's journey and the road that many great writers have taken from
beginner to successful artist,
3, The hero !s jo urney as illustrated by the Major A rcana of the Taro t
I've had an abiding interest in the Tarot since I discovered it during
my twenties, back when I was young enough to be curious about
divination and precognition. These days I'm not so interested in the

parapyschological aspect of the Tarot, but rather the more fundamental

ideas behind the Tarot: that it is somehow a microcosm of all the
influences we may experience as a person on Earth, From a purely
pleasurable point of view, I'm very fond of studying the archetypal images
within the pictographs - and their myriad interpretations. But also, I
believe that a great way of coming up with new and original stories is to
simply shuffle a Tarot pack, deal out some random cards and let your
imagination do the rest. In case you're concerned, it's not necessary to have
a n y p rior kn owledge of th e T a rot to rea d th is b ook, I do all th e work for y ou,

But if my observations inspire you, feel free to purchase any Tarot pack you
please, if only to enjoy looking at the pictures!

4, The hero's journey

as personified by my own quest to become a

professional writer
I make no apology for including a little of my own memoir in this
book. Over the last ten years my students have made one thing very plain
to me at every turn: they want to know more about how I became a
successful writer. Personally I'm hard-pressed to see the fascination,
However, I do understand that most new writers need a roadmap when it
comes to planning their creative careers. The transition from cocooned
caterpillar to emergent butterfly can seem an almost impossible
metamorphosis at first. The courage to say to yourself and the world, "lam
a writer"can be fraught with self-doubt and hesitancy. My own story may
help show, in practical terms, what is meant by many of the more
philosophical notions I express later in this book,

My overall hope is that this combination of the above four 'threads'

will help you gain a complete understanding of the creative artist's
worldview. At the very least this book will enable you to see the sense of
using the hero's journey template as a great framework on which to hang
your story ideas, I also hope that you will fully understand the hero's
journey as a concept. Not just as a whimsical structure for a story template

but as something more fundamental: a metaphor for the artist's life: the
journey from neophyte to master, from newbie to professional writer,
In case you don't know me, let me introduce myself I've been an
online writing teacher for over a decade now. In that time I've produced
over thirty courses on fiction and nonfiction writing, half a dozen novels
and quite a few short stories. Oh, and about five hundred articles. At the
same time as I've taught well over a million students, I've also found time
to carve out a professional writing career that, much to the surprise of my
wife, also a writer, has enabled us to enjoy a comfortable living as full-time
independent authors. When we're not writing, my wife and I travel the
globe speaking at seminars, workshops and other international venues,
We both love writing with a passion, not just as a platform for telling
stories, factual and fictional, but also as a self-actualization tool one that
can take anyone from a humdrum existence into a new level of awareness
and joy as a creative artist,

Nottosoundtoonewageab out it, I believ e t h a t a s we v entire in to t h e

third millennium, we are entering a new level of consciousness - if not that
then at least a new direction for humanity. To most of us, the drudgery of
the Industrial Revolution is but a distant memory. While modern 'workethic' practitioners still bang on about how we might gain purpose and
meaning inside corporate structures, I believe we were meant for much
more than this. Human beings are surely not designed to be content to
merely work for a living,
The prominent American psychologist, Abraham Maslow, developed
a pyramidal hierarchy that predicts the true goal of humans, after safety,

security, love, self-esteem and material comfort, is self-actualization, a

nebulous term that means, specifically, the development of our innate
creativity, the ability to act spontaneously, solve problems, lack prejudice
and to understand and appreciate the truth when we hear it.
To me, this suggests that we should all gravitate towards being selfsufficient and creative. We must all, perhaps at some stage in the near
future, aspire to become artists either figuratively or literally. My teaching
has this idea at its heart. That, after absorbing instruction on how to
become a better writer, we should aspire to become mini-gods, true
masters of our worlds, because that is our fundamental purpose. W e must
not fear independence of thought, nor the loss of structured income
generation. Because true self-determination is not just about being
uncompromising, it's about taking responsibility for one's own life, one's
actions and thereby one's destiny. In other words, we were born to
experience the hero's journey. And not just once, but many times over, in
order to achieve full enlightenment, absolute freedom and true peace. And
from this self-actualized position we may be in a better place to write
stories that could change the world. Okay, this may sound utterly
grandiose and largely impractical to you right now. But it is my earnest
hope that this book goes some small way to helping you see the world and

your place within it - a little differently.

Finally, I want this book to inspire you to take the next step in your
own hero's journey - at whatever stage you've reached. Whether you're a
complete novice who has never written a thing, or a writer on your first
steps toward publication, or a professional on the edge of a new project, I
sincerely hope you will find this book useful - oh, and fun to read!

Keep Writing,

Rob Parnell
The Easy Way to Write

Subscribe to my free weekly newsletter and receive news about my

writing resources at www,easy way towrite,com


"We have to do the best we can, This is our sacredhuman responsibility, "

Albert Einstein

Imagine the hero's journey as an old-fashioned clock-face,

At twelve o'clock our journey begins, W e are at home, safe in our most
familiar environment. Yet we are dissatisfied. As the first hour passes, we
feel a calling to explore the world and perhaps venture out of our comfort
zone to seek answers or find purpose. If not, circumstances may prevail to

force that change upon us,

At three o'clock we begin a series of tests that challenge our
preconceptions and lead us on a quest to find solutions, meaning and
direction. We may find new friends or discover enemies along the way,
At six, our world looks a very different place. In our quest to do the
right thing, as in overcome our obstacles on the path to truth, the tests are
harder, more intense. We delve into a symbolic labyrinth, where we

confront our deepest fears; and where our own sense of identity may be
challenged. As the clock turns, metaphorically we go deeper into the

my stery of life, so much so that we are almost dazed and confused by what
we're experiencing,
At nine, we are tested bey ond endurance and will eventually be forced

to sacrifice ourselves to uphold our values. But this is in no way a defeat. It

is a recognition of our innate courage and determination to persevere with
our aims, no matter what, A symbolic death occurs, relieving our old
personality, to be replaced by another, wiser self. Consequently we are
reborn, we regain hope and acquire new insight and wisdom. We are
stronger and perhaps have a message we may now use to help the world
seethe important issues of life more clearly,
At this crucial stage, when we realize we have taken responsibility for
our lives and can from this moment hold ourselves accountable, we realize
that our actions, however taxing, have brought us enlightenment. We

have rediscovered ourselves but gained a new perspective when we return

to twelve o'clock and understand that our lives are forever changed for the

The above corresponds roughly to what has become the classic model
of the hero's journey but is also, to some extent, my own personal
interpretation, I have taken some fairly strong liberties in this regard and
rejected many of the more bizarre elements suggested by some scholars,
I've done this so that the writer of short stories, novels and screenplays can
absorb the ideas that are the most helpful to creativity - and discard those
that are irrelevant to the needs of the modern storyteller,

The Birth of the Hero's Journey Idea

During the early part of the twentieth century, psychoanalysis was a
burgeoning new science. It could be argued that society at the time was
looking fora greater understanding of personal identity: what is meant by
being human. It was a world that had begun to reject the idea of being
solely answerable to a third-party god. Intellectual thought was leaning
towards personal responsibility for ourselves as god-like individuals. In
1878, the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, announced the death
of the Christian god in his book, Human, All Too Human, In later books,
Nietzsche preached the necessity of improving ourselves as people to
literally a spire to become Super-Men (and presumably Super-Women,)

At the same time, there was speculation as to the role of sex in regards
to personality. Serious consideration was given to the idea that psychoses
originated from repressed sexual desires and fetishes. In retrospect, this
may have simply been a reaction to the prudery of Victorian values, a time
when our animalistic nature was sublimated in favor of our apparently
more civilized purpose. Against this backdrop, Austrian neurologist
Sigmund Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams in 1900, a
collection of observations and reflections that aimed to show the
unconscious mind as a vast storehouse of repressed thoughts and
emotions that, Freud suggested, psychoanalysis could uncover in an
attempt to cure mental instability. The Swiss doctor, Carl Jung, took these
ideas further to posit that the human mind was ideally suited to
individuation by which he meant that people could integrate their
conscious and unconscious selves to help them transcend their base
natures and bring about more rounded, civilized individuals. The practice

of psychiatry was thus born,

Jimg also developed the idea of archetypes and the collective
unconscious. He believed that far from being a mass of individual minds,
humanity was actually connected on some deep subconscious Level and
this explained, why we tend to share the same concepts of good, evil,
wrong, right and why certain archetypal characters exist within
everyone's minds. He suggested that archetypes like the 'wise old man', the
'goddess', the 'trickster' and of course the 'hero' are common to every and all
cultures and have been since the beginning of time. Not only were they
mental constructs, or images, he suggested later in his life, but perhaps
they were also representations of fundamental principles inherent in the
natural world, hence their power and conspicuous commonality,

Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, was no doubt influenced

by these ideas when he suggested that, in essence., there was just one major
story - referred to as the 'Monomyth' - that had been told over and over
since the inception of writing. And that story - which he called the hero's
journey - was basically about personal transformation through initiation
and a symbolic death, Campbell identified the hero's journey in numerous
ancient fables and in the plays of the Greeks and Romans, His life's work
cites copious evidence that peoples and religions seem to recognize
common mythologies and archetypes - and indeed, end up writing
substantially similar stories,
Campbell produced a book, released in 1949, called The Hero with a
Thousand Faces, in which he described the 'template' for the hero's journey
in mythology - and showed how stories since the beginning of

consciousness contained elements strikingly similar to each other. So

much so that the telling of the 'hero's journey' in story form might be
regarded as a necessary kind of 'initiation ceremony' that humans
metaphorically undertake to seek and obtain wisdom,

Underworld Myths

Around three thousand years ago in ancient Greece and Italy, stories
about people visiting the underworld were common - and until recently
regarded as myths or garbled fables. However, twenty-first century
archeology has uncovered subterranean sites in Italy and on Greek islands
which suggest that these underworld places were in fact real - and that
they were in all likelihood used for 'initiation ceremonies' that could be
undertaken by anyone who sought 'higher knowledge',

According to US researcher and author, Robert Temple, pre-arranged

visits to the 'underworld' probably took the form of symbolic heroic
journeys where a 'customer' or dignitary or initiate was first taken into a
purification room - and probably drugged - then led down to an
underground river. They then traveled in a boat to a supposed 'kingdom of
the dead' where they were spoken to by an 'oracle' or 'spirit' about the
meaning of life - or merely related messages from dead relatives or the
gods. Suitably enlightened, or scared silly, the devotee would then be
returned to the land of the living- no doubt poorer and exhausted from the
experience, but thoroughly initiated into the mysteries1 of the world,

If these underworld encounters really took place, and there's

mounting evidence that they did in many prehistoric and pro to- civilized
cultures, then they're like an early theme park ride. Fun and terrifying at
the same time. More importantly, these adventures could represent the
metaphorical hero's journey in action - with its four main components:
normal life, the quest, confrontation with death, and rebirth.
Various cults and secret societies use initiation ceremonies that
imitate a death and rebirth scenario as tools to progress from one level of
wisdom to the next. Two thousand years ago, the Gnostics reputedly used a
'purification through water' ritual to symbolize detachment from the
material world into a more spiritual existence, a practice that was perhaps
the model of the Christian baptism. Freemasons too use rituals that
symbolizes death and rebirth when candidates move from one degree to
another, apparently reenactments of ancient murderous events from
Solomon's temple, according to some sources,

Of course, the most famous initiation story is probably that of Christ,

whose life, as in all hero's journeys, can be broken down into four main
components. In the New Testament, Christ was: called, tested, crucifiedand
resurrected. In its simplest form, the hero's journey is actually personified
by the story of Jesus, To some mythic researchers, the story of Christ has
all the hallmarks of being largely fictional for that reason or, at the very
least, allegorical. What's interesting, though, is that much of the hero's
journey mythology predates Christianity and even perhaps traditional
god worship,

It's curious to me that the evidence for the commonality of the hero's

journey motif in antiquity was essentially rediscovered at a time when

society gained an interest in living without God, when we began to focus
on looking for answers within ourselves, with no particular need for a
supreme deity to guide us. In this sense, individuation is essentially a
modern concept although, the more we look into it, we see that it's actually
an ancient sacred process - and perhaps practice - that existed long before
we formalized our relationship with the divine,

The Hero's Journey Template

While most hero journey models take the form of a circle - with the
hero working anticlockwise - I find these far too confusing to be useful,
Mine, as I suggested at the beginning of this section, is divided in four
quarters, and moves more logically, clockwise:
L NormalLife
2, Meeting the Challenge

TheAdventure Unfolds
4.. The Supreme Test

The circle is then divided horizontally in half as the outer journey

(that which is visible in the plot of your story) and the inner journey (the
one that happens in the mind of the characters,)
9 licNIthterj

Of course, the never ending circle of being human, rising to a

challenge, meeting it and becoming wiser is basically a model of our daily
lives. It's how we exist and survive. The rhythm inherent in life on our
planet is fundamental. It's how we count the seasons, W e go to sleep each
day a kind of mini death after learning and growing during our waking
hours. We reemerge each morning, fresh for new challenges and learning,
It's who we are, what we do. Without change and growth we grow bored
and restless. It's human nature to want to increase our appreciation of
consciousness continually,

In the hero's journey, we each start from a state of normality and

inevitably begin to question where we stand. We seek knowledge and find
that we are tested. And it is only after we have pushed ourselves and
gained more understanding that we discover something new about the
world and. ourselves. And hence our new 'normal' state is that of a more
enlightened person - and so the cycle continues,

Writing a story is a cathartic and energizing experience, but it is also

about the growth of the writer, as a person and an artist. With each
successive story, each new heroic journey, we become wiser, even better
people, with more understanding and compassion than before. Therefore,
as we delve deeper into our art, the more wonderful and mysterious the
world becomes until, when we finish each new story, we might be seen to
take a little step up on the ladder of consciousness,

The Tarot

The mythic journey is part of our culture. It's sometimes hidden which is what 'occult' means. Tarot cards, though they are open to many
interpretations, are, to me, essentially a template of the every man's
journey to seek wisdom and understanding. Here is not the place to
investigate the origins of the Tarot. There are many theories, some of them
bizarre and clearly untrue. It remains only to say that the Tarot does
represent pretty much all of the fundamental situations, experiences and
dilemmas all of us would expect to encounter in our lives, at least in
metaphorical form,
We all of us begin as The Fool or 'neophyte' - a beginner, in other
words - who must face the challenges of the world - authority, disaster,
in order to learn lessons and attain
change, love, death etc,,
enlightenment. The Tarot, then, is simply a collection of symbols that
encapsulate the journey of life - in pictorial story form,

I know many writers who actually use the Tarot as a way of inspiring
ideas and possible plots. Try it yourself for fun. Tarot packs aren't usually
expensive and most have descriptions about how they may be best

Below is a very quick reading of the Major Arcana cards in order. If you
take the twenty one cards of the major Arcana and create a circle with
them, placing TheFool in the center, you'll create a pictorial representation
of the hero's journey. Note how closely the numbered sequence
corresponds to the hero's journey template - and to the clock-face I
mentioned at the start of this section,

The 'call to action' common in fiction is represented by The Fool the

beginner, the seeker of truth, and the person yearning for more experience
and wisdom,

Thefirst five cards, The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, The
Emperor, and The Hierophant show the various attributes of a person in
ordinary life: infinite potential (and possessing all the skills they need), a
sense of mystery something more out there a connection with the
natural order of things, and an awareness that society runs on authority
from the state and faith in high ideals to function normally. The first five
cards represent the life we have at the beginning of any journey,

The next five cards, The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength, The Hermit, and
The Wheel of Fortune, show how the heroic fool must navigate various life
lessons: love, ambition, courage, reflection and the mysteries of fate. We're
tested in these areas because they enable our growth, W e must understand
that it is in the nature of the world to present us with a series of lessons on
the basics of living. The Lovers represent the call of duty over pleasure. The
Chariot repres ents our goals and whether we have the tenacity to identify
and pursue them. Strength, tact and diplomacy, taming the beast. The
Hermit shows us that introspection is important too and the ability to
stand alone, independent of thought and action. The Wheel of Fortune
reminds us that nothing is guaranteed. There's always an element of
chance that can aid or thwart us,

In the next five cards, Justice? The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance,
and The Devil, we see that, armed with knowledge of life and its tests, the
hero/ fool faces resistance to personal growth and change in the form of the

natural order, new perspectives, the need to destroy the past, the exercising
of self-control and the resistance of temptation. It's easy to give in to these
because they're designed, by the universe to undermine your resolve. To
change, you need to stand up to the temptations, and literally change
yourself through a symbolic death to acquire the resulting alteration of
your worldview,
In the last six cards, The Tower, The Star, The Moon, The Sun,
Judgment, and The Worlds we're shown that when your old life crumbles,
and you discover every assumption you made has been fundamentally
flawed, you're in a position to look up and see the majesty of the universe,
The Star is hope, The Moon is the mysterious, the wild and unpredictable,
The Sun is the promise of wisdom, truth and enlightenment. Judgment
represents the time when you can evaluate your progress and see your
place in the eternal changing reality of life. When you finally understand
all aspects of the great cosmic plan of existence, you inherit The World. But,
alas, it's not over. Life is a cycle. You move back to the beginning and start


The Writer & The Hero's Journey

The act of becoming a successful writer is a hero's journey,
When you look at the careers of famous authors you see trends,
There's invariably a moment of decision early in a would-be author's life
when he or she makes the decision to change their lives, to move out of the

ordinary and push to get their work seen, appreciated and published. Of
course, it's never an easy path, no matter how talented you are. Becoming a
successful, paid writer takes grit, determination and patience, traits that
few people possess,
T o me, the urge to be published is equivalent to the first quarter of the
hero's journey, where normal life seems not quite enough. There's a quest
that needs undertaking, and the wannabe writer makes a courageous
decision to fight against the odds. The persistent keep going, even when
criticism, self-doubt, rejection and even resentment from those around
them is rampant. Success, then, comes as a metaphorical death of the old
self so that a new life may begin as a professional author,
At school, Stephenie Meyer was considered 'not overly bright' and had
never written so much as a short story before she attempted the epic that
would become Twilight At the age of twenty-nine, almost convinced that
she didn't have what it took to be a writer, she changed her mind when her
eldest son was born, I understand. A similar wave overtook me when my
first son was born. At that moment I knew I had to be someone my boy
would one day be proud of. For better or worse, I made the decision to
become a professional writer at that moment. A bit like the call to action in
the first quarter of the hero's journey,
Dan Brown's life before the success of his novels was patchy. His first
novel, Digital Fortressi was not published until he was thirty -four. While
it's clear he was seeking something more from life, experimenting with

music, nonfiction and other odd projects, his success was by no means
inevitable. It could be argued, that it was Brown meeting his future wife,

Blythe Newlon, that significantly boosted his struggling careen A little like
the second quarter of the hero's journey during which the hero must find
allies to his cause,
Like most authors, Agatha Christie found it hard to find anyone
interested in her early fictional efforts before she hit on the idea of writing
a detective novel not unlike the decision Patricia Cornwall would make
almost seventy years later. Famously, Stephen King was a teacher who
wrote short stories in his spare time to supplement his meager income
before the success of Carrie in 19 73, when King was twenty-six,

It's clear there is no definitive template for attaining success as a

writer. There are as many ways to make it as there are writers. But all ways
require a decision from the author to pursue a path into the unknown,
regardless of the outcome. That's heroic in itself,

Of course, not all writers attain wealth and. success. Many live lives of
quiet desperation without serious recognition. How does this square with
the hero's journey? Philip K Dick was twenty-three when he sold his first
short story and made the fateful decision to write full-time from that
moment on. Though he lived and died in near poverty, Dick persevered
with his writing against the odds to attain the recognition he deserved
but only after his lifetime. That's the way it goes for some heroes,

Anne Rice has sold over one hundred million books and yet she is
rarely mentioned in polite conversation as a leading author. She was
thirty Awo in 19 73 when she wrote Interview with the Vampire which
was not at first a critical success, despite the respect it has earned since,

Her life has been series of tests of her resolve and her faith. She's suffered
from OCD and alcoholism and eventually rediscovered religion - in 1998 after a long period of atheism. It's said that her vampire novels are really
just allegories on the nature of good and evil, and an attempt to find
meaning in a life without a deity. Her life is a supreme example of the third
quarter of the hero's journey,
Even some 'classical' writers faced an uphill struggle, Leo Tolstoy only
became a serious writer after a huge gambling debt focused his attention
on making money. Later in life, after great success and recognition, he
renounced his aristocratic lifestyle and died of pneumonia, alone, at a train
station in Russia, Hardly an heroic ending although definitely poignant,

In my own life I have seen parallels with the hero's journey in my
quest to become a full-time writer. Don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming to
be any kind of hero, just that the metaphorical indicators are there,
From a very early age I knew I wanted to be a writer but it took me
over twenty years to achieve that dream. Sidetracked by music and. my
penchant for excessive alcohol consumption, I was lost in a wilderness of
despair and frustration at the end of the twentieth century. As luck would
have it, I decided to emigrate to Australia, having some vague notion that
the move might ignite my writing career. That is, if I was ever going to
have one. I'd almost given up on the idea. It was beginning to seem too


But just like the classic protagonist in the first quarter of the hero's
journey, I recognized that I had to rise to the challenge and reinvent myself
or die trying. Having made that decision, I then faced conflict with my
employers, who sacked me, my then partner, who despaired of me, until I
was one day alone and holed up in a decrepit caravan park writing the
book I knew would be the beginning or end of my writing career,

Though I eventually finished the book and published it myself online,

within a year of starting my new venture, I'd lost my house, my partner,
my car, and was living in a bedsit I called The Cave, I remember one day
sobbing, beating myself up over the failure I'd become, hating myself for
putting creativity before responsibility, I guess in retrospect this was the
moment of my symbolic death - but with it came the realization that I had
reached a turning point and that, actually I was now free,
And like a phoenix rising from the ashes I created The Writing
Academy with the help of a local government grant, took a road trip to
Darwin with my then new girlfriend now my wife which became the
symbol of the path to the beginning of a new me. These days, I am
different, wiser, happy. I've finally found peace amongst true love and


I hope your own journey to success will be as fulfilling though not

necessarily as traumatic!
Next, in the first module, we take a detailed look at the opening quarter

of the hero's journey,

Module One: The Hero's Mindset

"Somewhere along the line we discover who we really are\ and then make
our realdecisionsfor which we are responsible, Make that decision primarily
foryourself becauseyou can never really live anyone else's life\ "

Eleanor Roosevelt

At their most basic level, great fictional stories are about

transformation - usually a change from one perspective to another. The
change may be slight or massive, subtle or profound, A protagonist may
have to save the world, or merely solve a mystery or learn a lesson, A
character might start with one point of view and by the end of the story,
have another usually brought about by the story events: the plot, in other
words. Stories that do not signal or illustrate a change in wisdom, growth
or circumstance do not fulfill the basic requirements of a story worth
telling. Bear in mind that if this is the case, all stories you write from this
point on will contain elements of a journey within them. Therefore your
lead characters will in this sense always be embarking on some kind of
voyage of discovery into themselves,

By the way, from now on I'll be using the pronoun 'he' to denote both
genders of hero and heroine. It's easier to write and probably less

confusing to read. In the same way as the word 'actor' and 'director' are not
gender specific, the word 'hero' should be taken to be masculine or
feminine. However, for clarity, I think we should stick to just the masculine
'he', 'him' 'his' etc,, where necessary, when referringto either gender, I hope
this doesn't bother you!

How to Start a Hero's Story

When an author tells a story to a reader, it's not just about the writing,

There are certain accepted conventions that the modern author must
adhere to these days when telling a fictional story. Not least of which is the
unspoken pact between the author and the reader. First, this pact says you
will be using a means of communication that the reader will understand,
This means that spelling, grammar and lack of typos are of paramount
importance to you. You need to first show the reader that you care deeply
about your craft by presenting the very best manuscript you can. Next, the
pact is augmented by a simple assumption: that the author will not be part
of the story. In return, the reader suspends disbelief and takes your story at
face value: it is what it is, a fiction that you, the author, wants the reader to
believe is 'true' within the confines of its own story-world. In order to best
cement this pact, the reader is trusting that the writer will not jolt them out
of the 'fictive dream' by:

1. Removing any errors before the reader sees them

2. Keepinga tight rein on point of view

3. Eliminating any sense of authorialintrusion and
4. Telling the story through the characters

The reader trusts you to tell a good story. That's a given. But your part
of this pact is to tell your story with no authorial intrusion whatsoever. You
must do all you can to remove your presence from the story. This is what
the reader expects. The reader does not want you or your views and
opinions in the story, the reader is only interested in your story's
characters and their actions, concerns and dilemmas,
When writing the opening of your story, we want to see the hero in
his familiar surroundings. We want to show him as he is normally - living
life as he has been experiencing it for some time. Think in terms of Froddo
Baggins at the beginning of The Lord of the Rings. The essentially ordinary
hobbit is celebrating his uncle Bilbo's 'eleventy first' birthday in The Shire,
The first chapter of this epic tale is safe and comforting with only a hint of
the 'power' of the ring that will eventually change Frodo and his worldview

For further reference, also consider the Spider-Man movie where the
hero is first seen as going about his usual business of being a nerd, picked
on by bullies and hopelessly in love with an unattainable girl. This is the
hero as he exists before the story. In the same way, Dan Brown will usually
introduce Robert Langdon 'at home', resting, studying or asleep before a
telephone conversation will literally 'call' him into action. Similarly,

Twiligh t begmS with Bella Swan in a car with her mother on the way to the
airport. We meet her in her previous life, if only briefly, so that we're
grounded in her character before any major changes to her life take place,

Elements of the First Quarter

From my extensive research into models for fiction, I have identified
the most common and ideally necessary components of the hero's
journey. Essentially, the opening quarter of your hero's journey can be
broken down into the following ten categories:

1. Hero !s Men tity sho wn

2, Identity explored

New information / often a shocking events new location.; etc,

4.. New mindset / often a newfriend; lover etc.

5\ New optionsfor the hero to consider

6\ Primary disconnectionfrom the past

7. First refused of the hero - resistance to change

8. Guidance so ugh t (the men tor) orso ulsearching

9 Secondary separationfrom the past /often anotherplot turn

JO. The herofinally rising to the challenge

You can use the above ten points as scene templates if you wish. Don't

worry. There's nothing formulaic about following these guidelines. In fact

you'll find that publishers and agents will often criticize stories that dont
contain these elements, and usually in the above order! It's almost as if
these key steps in the hero's journey are so deeply ingrained in us that we
subconsciously miss them when they are not present.
This is something I've learned from writing my own short stories,
novels and screenplays. Editors and film producers will often keep asking
for rewrites until all, or at least most, of the above elements are dealt with, I
didn't realize that this was what was happening until I took a step back and
analyzed my stories from the perspective of the hero's journey. When I
began to incorporate the above elements into my stories and novels, my
acceptance rate bloomed. Plus, readers seemed to be much happier with
my stories without being able to vocalize why,

Initially I was resistant to using what is perhaps a formulaic

approach to writing, I wanted to be original after all, I thought I was
supposed not to use well-worn conventions over and over again. But what I
realized was that stories often don't work for other people without the
writer logically dealing with each aspect of the hero's journey. Basically, in
order for a reader to truly connect with a character, certain unconscious

questions are posed by the reader that need answering. It's therefore the
writer's job to deal with those questions by presenting the character and
then dealing with specific issues like:

Who is thisperson ?
Ho w do they react to stimuli7
Is their reaction believable?
Ho w do they in teract with o therpeople?
Is that interaction believable?

What actions will they takegiven thefirst story turn?

Is that action credible?

These unconscious questions are dealt with specifically in the above

ten-step template. Any natural reservations the reader may have about the
hero's believability or his ability to inspire empathy are systematically
undermined by presenting answers to those questions, almost before
they're asked. This is a necessary part of the storytelling artbecause when
it comes to showing a hero's journey, nothing works unless the reader
believes in the hero's reaction to change,

The Hero's Reaction to Change

As humans , we seek security and then power over our destinies. It's
all part of Maslow's hierarchy. First we need food and water, and the ability
to live without external stress. We then seek the comfort of friends, family
and sexual intimacy, material possessions and property. When we have
these, we're in a position to feel some degree of self-respect and confidence,
It's only then that we feel we have any real control over our lives and can
solve problems and begin the process of individuation. In this sense,
making effective decisions about our lives is a luxury afforded to the
fortunate. It's worth bearing this in mind when designing characters that
will need to appear believable.

The majority of people feel powerless. They feel buffeted by fate, their
conscience, the need for money, torn between loyalty to friends, family
and pressures like the media, morality and conflicting feelings of selfworth. Most people do not have the luxury of designing their own lives to
their satisfaction. This is what makes a writer different. We at some point
consciously decide to change our lives to give us the options that most
people seek. Because the ability to change our own lives or at least to
construct a different version of it is at the heart of being creative. But just
because we might think that 'anything is possible' when it comes to
ourselves, it's often a mistake to use this logic on your characters,

Fictional characters, especially your hero, should be rooted in reality,

In real life, a sudden change in our worldview can result in a kind of
shock to the system. We need time to evaluate new information and work

out how to react appropriately depending on our circumstance, our hopes

and our value system. This is natural - and so it should be for your hero, A
hero who takes everything in his stride is unbelievable and largely
unsympathetic. In order to care about a hero, we have to believe in his

This is why it's so important to initially show your lead character
being normal, in familiar surroundings. The character doesn't need to be in
control. Quite the reverse. You may have a lead character who is unhappy
at work or part of a stormy relationship, or in the midst of an ongoing
crisis. The crucial thing to establish before the hero's journey begins is that
this, at the beginning of the story, is what your character's normal life
your character strong within a stressful environment
looks like. 71Showing
will often evoke sympathy. Being introduced to a character leading a
perfectly wonderful life will often have the opposite effect. Readers
generally like to see characters that appear relatively powerless, at first,
because their lives are often the same, Most people want to change their
circumstances and read because in fiction, lead characters can and do
change their circumstances. Indeed, that's oftentimes what makes them




When first presented with a story -turn like a shocking event or a

challenging new situation, your hero might at first react with dismay or
disbelief. He may retreat back to familiar ground: to friends he trusts, or to
activities he's familiar with. He may exhibit inertia, anger or frustration
and seek out new allies or new skills to help him deal with change. All of
the things we would do naturally ourselves when confronted with an
opportunity for growth - or a situation that seemed thrust up on us,
29 NsNICfffif*

Consequently it won't seem right

W e often don't react well to change.
if your hero is perfectly capable right from the start of your story. In fact, if
the protagonist is totally equipped to deal with fundamental change at the
beginning of a story , you probably have no more story to tell. You need to
sh ow th at at th e b egin n in g of a journ ey , th e h ero usually struggles ,
42 NcNKttos

The following tale relates howl reacted to the first quarter of my own
hero's journey,

The Hero's Journey in Heel Life

I should have been happy,

When I took the contract manager's position at Marconi

Communications, my salary doubled overnight, Ihadaccesstoa company
car - although I hadn't yet passed my driving test. I was given
responsibility 3 didn't think I deserved and the job felt important: I could
make a difference, I bought an expensive suit and, despite my insecurities,
actually felt comfortable talking to senior executives and the company's
hard-ass clients. In my more whimsical moments, I felt I held the safety of
a million train passengers in my hands, W ell, in admittedly a roundabout
way but that's what we do when we have a nine-to-five job, right? We
regularly make rationalizations that don't bear close scrutiny,

As I say, I should have been content that, after a failed marriage and

starting a new career from scratch, I'd crawled my way back and had

'succeeded' by getting a great job that paid well But on an emotional level, I
was at the lowest point of my life, I was miserable, depressed and
frustrated, I was living a lie, I hated being an office drone, I wanted to be a
professional writer. That was all I'd ever wanted but at the time there was
no evidence this would ever come to pass,

Nothing in my life was the way I desired it. Three years previously
my ex-wife had kicked me out of the house for being drunk all the time. I'd
worked for the London Undergrounds a lowly clerk, I made friends there,
drank copious amounts of alcohol, formed a rock band to play at the
Christmas party. It was a lot of fun but it all started to go downhill when I
got a new 'girlfriend'. I use the phrase loosely. These days I just think of her
as The Beast- you know, 666 and all that, I don't know what I was thinking,
The woman was awful: a vacuous energy sponge, I don't think she ever
liked me, though she pretended to for the first couple of months. After that,
I was just a handy money source. What did I see in her? I don't know, I
guess what happened was that I hated myself so much for losing my
former life that I punished myself by hooking up with someone who
treated me with about as much respect as I had for myself,

I took to writing a novel at the office, I didn't shirk on my work

honest, I got everything done that I needed to but, because I'm generally
very focused about jobs, there were hours when I had nothing much to do
for the company. So I wrote chapter after chapter of a terrible novel that I
don't have anymore. It was a long sprawling work about a frustrated writer
living a lie, drunk all the time, flitting in and out of relationships, looking
for the perfect girl, which he knew in his heart didn't exist. It was called
Kiss Chase - and was about as bad as it sounds, (Autobiographical?

Perhaps.) Although the manuscript was probably never going to be any

good, as in publishable, it was all I had to hold on to at the time. The only
thing that kept me going.
Here I was in my normal life. To be honest, being unhappy and
frustrated had been my routine state for over fifteen years. I was used to it.
Just like the hero in the first quarter of a story, I had a home that I endured,
a life that I was ready to leave and an agenda that meant the only way out
would be a drastic change in my worldview.
I realized I couldn't go on punishing myself for being a failure. Sure, I
had material stuff, outward symbols of success. With my new job I
theoretically had prospects. With that in mind I sat down and worked out
how much I would get when I retired assuming I stayed in the rat race. It
was a tidy sum but, realizing that I would have to work nine-to-five for
another thirty years, it struck me that I was acknowledging my life was
essentially over. Being able to predict what I did until I retired felt like a
prison sentence, rather a death sentence. It was about then I decided I had
to stop survivingjf for a living. I sought unpredictability, challenge, purpose.
This was my inner agenda.

But, at the time, I was going nowhere fast. Something had to change.

The Beast suddenly announced she'd been offered a temporary job in

Australia. I briefly wondered how she had made enough money just to upsticks, but since then I discovered I'd been paying the entire mortgage and
all the bills courtesy of her creative accounting (read: blatant lies). This
was the 'initiating event' in the first quarter of my journey.

It was time for me to consider whether it was sensible for us to break

up. But of course I was resistant to change, you see, just Like the heroes in
stories. Even though my life sucked I was nervous of altering the status


Plus I understood I was too insecure to leave her and I think she
knew that. We argued a Lot, mainly about my dream of becoming a
professional writer, which she thought was absurd. She'd always push me
into other ventures that she thought were more suitable but were really
just about keeping a steady cash-flow coming into the joint bank account.
But, in the midst of turmoil, she did something that helped me enormously
at the time. She went to Australia and left me alone for three months, I
welcomed that because I knew it would give lots of time to write,

Seriously, being apart from the The

great but it didn't fill the
void. I worked twelve-hour days, wrote all night and spent the weekends
catching up with old friends and my family, I guess I was trying to put my
life into perspective. Who was I? Where was I going? Nowhere, I decided,
But I could travel to Australia
A new country. The challenge of new experiences, a new perspective,
A place to write

The divorce papers came through from my ex-wife and the Marconi
people took me out to celebrate. We had a great time but I ended up in a
seedy hotel room with an office couple indulging in a steamy liaison away
from their other halves, I lay on the floor trying to ignore the giggles and
grunts coming from the bed. In the morning my head was pounding, I felt

sick physically and mentally, I finally realized I had no more reasons to

stay in London,
I had to get away. Start afresh. As a writer,
I rented out the apartment, handed in my resignation, and got on a
plane bound for the Great Southern Land,

Other Writers' Journeys

The legendary film mogul George Lucas has publicly acknowledged
his debt to Joseph Campbell, He said that it was reading Campbell's work
that helped him see the story he was trying to tell in Star Wars, It's pretty
common knowledge these days that the whole sweeping saga of Star Wars
was mapped out right from the start, way back in the early 19 70s and
that the first movie represented just a snippet from the middle of the whole

Lucas's path to success was by no means easy, W e tend to look at the

man these days and see an institution, but of course when George was
starting out, nothing could be so inevitable. At school, Lucas wanted to be a
racing driver and would spend much time at the race track and in garages,
At the age of eighteen, in 1962, he was nearly killed in an auto accident.
Only later would he turn his attention to film and begin to create non
character driven short films he called 'tone poems'. Even after getting a
deal with Warner Bros, Star Wars almost never got made. Famously, Fox

had so little faith in the movie they gave what they perceived as the
worthless merchandising rights to George,
From the studio's perspective, Lucas had previously invested much of
his creative energy into a Sci-Fi dystopian epic called THX 1138 that
everyone hated and did. badly at the box-office. Partially in response, he
co-wrote and directed the classic American Graffiti.\ if only to show that he
could make popular, people-focused movies. Despite that film's success
and his burgeoning wealth and reputation, Lucas was becoming
disillusioned with the Hollywood system that most creative people at the
time regarded as suffocating and overly focused on making money (as if
anything would change,) As a green twenty-seven year old, his vision for
Star Wars was simple: to reinvent the 19 50s movie-serial on an epic scale
and to create an entire universe and mindset, not unlike The Lord of the
Rings mythology. Some commentators see parallels between Sky walker's
quest to overthrow the Dark Star as a blatant metaphor for George taking
on the behemoth of the studio system. And just like the best hero's journey,
Lucas overcame his obstacles and won,

It's impossible to talk about writers as heroes on their own journey

without reference to Joanne Rowling, whose life -story sometimes reads
like a fairy tale especially to wannabe rich and famous writers. At twenty
five, when she was an unemployed single mother just out of abusive
relationship, Joanna was on a train to London from Birmingham in the UK
when the idea for the Harry Potter series 'simply fell' fully -formed into her
head. The Harry Potter story bears an uncanny resemblance to Luke
Sky walker's, in that both characters are in possession of great power they
are unaware of, are taught to cultivate it by guardians of mythological

truth, face off a foe that killed their parents and rise to save their friends by
heading off extraordinary odds to become saviors of their respective

There's no reason to suspect plagiarism or even influence when

comparing Star Wars with Harry Potter. There are other stories that use the
same formula. The Matrix for one, where the barely competent Neo
becomes the savior of the Earth, What's happening here is that the
authors, perhaps subconsciously, as tapping into the Monomyth of the
hero's journey which, to simplify the premise, says that there can be no
true wisdom gained without the ultimate sacrifice. And the person best
suited to do this is a character that is ill-equipped to do it again a parallel
to the story of Christ, the Buddha and many other cult figures,

The Tarot of Character

If you're curious about how to create strong and rounded characters
from scratch, then the Major Arcana of the Tarot is a great place to start. Let
me explain,

Take the first six cards from the Major Arcana

The Fool\ The
Magician,, The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, and The
Hierophant and place them face up on a desk in front of you. Here you
have, represented in pictorial form, the basic elements of any personality
you may choose to envisage,

First look at The FooL This card represents every individual at any
point in their lives. At once carefree and naive but also brave because,
without wisdom it is sometimes easy to feel strong in ignorance. TheFoolis
in need of experience and more than ready for it. So much so, he's reckless
but that's okay it's often how we learn best. TheFoolis a great template for
the lead character in a story, untarnished by what is to come, eager for


We need skills to overcome obstacles in our lives. But what we often

don't realize is that we already possess the skills we are seeking. This is
what is represented by The Magician , who represents potential power and
emotional disc ip line overall he owns. When we combine TheFool and The
Magician we have the beginnings of a more rounded character: naive,
impetuous but with an inner strength that needs to be focused on the story
yet to unfold. But more is needed to fully ground your character in reality,
Not all of us are simply skittish reactors. We have value systems that
regulate our behavior. This is where the next three cards come into play,

TheHigh Priestess represents our earthy nature, our attachment to the

reality of living, including the awareness that there are mysteries about life
we do not fully understand. The Empress acknowledges our nurturing side,
the need for tact and careful consideration about the consequences of our
attitudes. The Emperor represents our acceptance of authority, either that
of our parents or employers or the state and government under which we
live. Together The Empress and The Emperor become symbolic of the
natural order of things - and metaphorically the ideal union between
husband and wife, yin and yang - the validity of which we might accept or
reject depending on our temperament.

We are questioning animals, W e seek answers and don't always like

what we hear. Some of us need faith. The Hierophant beeomes a touchstone
for many, either representing an artificial belief system (like religion or a
work ethic) that we follow or through core beliefs we have created for
ourselves. Each aspect of these preceding cards make up the package that is
our personality. Within this framework we function as human beings,
Thinking this way, you may use the above Tarot cards as a synthesis
of your ideal protagonist in fiction,

How to Create Characters

I always tell writers they must quote their sources. For many reasons,
Copyright for one - and just well, it's a nice thing for a writer to do. The
following is loosely based on the teachings of Michael Hauge - an
acknowledged story gum,

Hauge says that in order for a reader to identify with a character, the
writer must present him or her as quickly as possible at the beginning of
the story, I agree. Many new writers make the mistake of presenting
secondary, even irrelevant characters at the start of their stories in an
attempt to set the scene for their hero. This is a mistake because readers
generally have an automatic desire to identify with the first character with
whom they are presented,

Recently a student sent me a story where the hero was not introduced

until chapter six, AIL I could think was. Why?

So what do you need to present a new character? Four keys elements:

1. Theirphysicalattributes
2, Their personality
3, Their background
4.. Their agenda

A character's individual agenda will become what drives your story,

But first you need readers to care about your hero. So what can you do to
make your character instantly compelling?

Readers often root for characters that are innocent victims - or who
are subjected to forces beyond their control. The girl running from the
psychopath or a lost child, or an employee set upon by her boss, or a man
struggling against the natural world. All of these characters have the
ability to instantly elicit sympathy from the reader,


People like to identify with characters in danger. Think James Bondor

Harrison Ford at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark Although the
viewers have no inkling of the character's personality the first time they
meet Indiana Jones, they want him to escape / beat the bad guys and
Jeopardy works for any character involved in a life or death situation,
Whether it's Clarice Starling at the beginning of the book Hannibal- she's
an FBI agent but that doesn't stop her from being terrified of an upcoming
shootout. Or Carriei where a teenage girl is taunted by her schoolmates for
having her first period in the famous shower scene at the beginning of
Brian de Palma's movie,

Ideally your character should be instantly likable. It's hard not to root
for someone who cares for the sick or let's an old lady have a seat on the
bus. Show your character being kind - don't just say, He's kind and caring,
your reader won'tbelieve itunless youshowthe teacher helping a student,
or a father coaching his son on howto ride a bike,

Open with the Character

As I mentioned above, it's hard for ns humans not to like and identify
with the first person we're introduced to, James Herbert, the British author,
used to play with this aspect of our expectations in his novels. He would
show the reader a character, describe him in detail and just when you liked

him the most, Herbert would kill him off A clever twist on the guidelines but I wouldn't recommend you do it too often,

Skilled Individual s
People are naturally drawn to characters that are obviously good at
what they do. Have you ever wondered why you might identify with a bad

guy who is a good terrorist, a thief who succeeds in stealing a fortune in

jewels, or a computer hacker that can bring down the CIA's mainframe?
These are all examples of how we automatically admire great skill in

Of course the same rule applies if the character is a good guy, using his
skill to the benefit of others,

Familiar Settings
Deep down, we all want tobelieve we're the same - and have the same
values. We treasure life, freedom, choice and the right to live our lives in
comfort. At the beginning of a story, we like to see people doing ordinary
things and living a good life (at least for while, until it gets dull)

You'll probably have noticed that this how the majority of horror
stories start: the happy family, the good life, the innocence of youth etc,
Horror stories use this convention because it's a very powerful way of
drawing the reader into a highly believabie situation before the
'unbelievable' happens,

Flaws and Foibles

This was one of the first pieces of advice I got from a literary agent.
Makeyour characters quirky, he said. Of course I took it to heart and made
all of my characters odd with irritating personal habits, I probably took it
too far, I think the trick is not to go over the top - and present slight flaws
and charming foibles that will endear your reader to your characters,

Super heroes

We'll be taking an in-depth look at why superheroes have a

compelling influence over us later in this book. For now we should accept
that there's something about the idea of having superhuman powers that
intrigues us as a species. Perhaps it is related to the prehistoric myths
regarding a time when gods allegedly roamed the planet. Or perhaps it's
more down to earth than that. As humans we always aspire to be more
than we are, and would like to identify with being a Superman or Wonder
Woman - though why we need to wear snazzy spandex costumes to appear

impressive is anybody's guess!

Be the Reader
One of the simplest ways of drawing in a reader is to tell the T story,

First person is eternally compelling but new writers often misunderstand

why this is. When a reader reads a story from the first person perspective,
they are not generally identifying with the writer but with the narrator. In
essence, the reader becomes the character telling the story. But, this
process doesn't mean they're identifying with the author. That's not how it
works in fiction. Many writers shy away from revealing themselves in
writing but, counter logically, revealing your deepest and darkest thoughts
as a narrator is what readers want in order to fully identify with the T

This notion brings us nicely back to the point I mentioned in the

introduction. Even when writing from the first person point of view you,
the author, should not be in the story. The reader is only interested in the
character -and ultimately only in themselves in your character's shoes,

Character identification is part of the sacred pact I alluded to. The

good writer understands that it is not the story or your writing that is
overwhelmingly important. It is the reader's eagerness to become your
character that largely defines your skill as a writer,

Character Motivation
When you've done all you can to make your reader love, or at least
Identify in some way with your hero, you can then begin to deal with the
character's motivation - outer and inner,
The outer journey (In the top half of the hero's journey) is concerned
with the story, the plot, the events that drive characters to act as they do and howthey interact with each other. This is largely agenda driven,

If Terry wants a new car but his wife Sherry wants to save the money
for a holiday, you have two characters whose agendas are at odds. At the
simplest level, your protagonist wants to save the world, and the bad guys
want to destroy it. This is all outer conflict - the drama that drives your


The inner journey is more personal. It is what happens

to the
A S.
character's inner world as they make changes to their lives to incorporate
the outer journey,

72 NgHliNm

As an example, John might want to discover a cure for cancer and

save his grandmother, that's his outer journey. But on the inside he wants
the world to be a better place where cancer doesn't exist, or perhaps he
wants to make up for all the time he never spent with his grandmother,
That's his inner agenda from which the outer journey is propelled,

The two journeys are your call. But don't forget to keep them in mind
as you write, because the reader is most likely on your character's inner

journey, a II the while you're writing text that describes the outer journey,
Here's a quick tip regarding dialogue: Often writers make the mistake
of using dialogue to tell the story, either through unnatural sounding

exposition, or by having the characters endlessly discussing what

happens next,
Far better to use dialogue to reveal the inner character. Rather than
havejoesay, 'Im no tgoing toget in to the water to sa ve Rudy from dro wiling, "
which is clearly expositional, you'd have Joe say, 'Im notgetting in there,
Itfs wet "Because it's his inner agenda that provokes his reactions, rather
than his logical reasoning mind. You'll notice here too that dialogue which
reflects a character's inner journey is far more convincing to a reader, in

novels, scripts or whatever fiction you come across,

Fit st Conclusion
When telling a story, your overriding concern is to provide a platform
from which you can derive conflict,
Conflict is drama is story,
But in order for drama to be compelling, you must create believable
characters first. It's then up to you to provide scenarios in which your
characters are tested and can interact convincingly with other characters,

Commonly the 'other characters' fall into predetermined 'archetypes,

which are:

L The hero's sidekick (sometimes called the Reflection because they

represent the hero 's inner seif as he was before the challengeJ
2, The hero 's nemesis - yep, the bad guy - not always a person\,
sometimes a situation or an institution, symbolic of what he's fighting

3. The hero is- lo ve in terest, (not a/ways necessary to a story tho ugh) and
4.. The hero 's mentor- the person who hegoes tofor advice orguidance.

It's up to you how you use and combine these character archetypes,
They're pretty much always there when you look for them in fiction
stories, even if they're not obvious at first. The next time you read a book,
see if you can identify these archetypes, I bet you'll spot them!
Next module we'll be looking at the second quarter of the hero's
journey and how to create compelling reasons why your hero must fulfill
his destiny,

Exexcises 1

Hie First Quarter

As an exercise, you might like to try plotting the first quarter of your

own character's hero's journey. Below are six steps to get you started. In
former days when this course (in a much shortened form) was only
available from my website, I would ask students to send me their exercises.
W ith this Amazon version, it's not necessary to do that. These exercises are
for your own amusement and to help you learn the principles outlined in
this book. Have fun with them but please don't send them to me!

L Choose a character

Male or female, it doesn't matter. Give the person a name if you wish
and describe their physical characteristics: how he or she looks, what they
wear, how they think about the world.
2. Describe them in their world, as they have been for some time

Here it's important to imagine a stable world environment, where the

character is reasonably settled. That doesn't mean they're happy or

fulfilled, only that they've been ensconced in this location, job, relationship
etc., for some time.

3. Think of an event that rocks their world

It could be something minor or major as long as the impact of the

event is unsettling to the character. Typical scenarios are the death of a
friend or loved one, meeting a potential lover, an accident or a external
event like a natural phenomenon,
4, Imagine the resistanceyour herofeels as he/she is called to action

Your initiating event must cause some reaction in the character that
either stretches their worldview or highlights the necessity of change. At
this point show your hero's unwillingness to face up to reality or show
his/her tendency to retreat from confrontation,

Have him/her refuse toget involvedorgo seek the help of a mentor

Show your character in denial or conflicted. Have them seek guidance

from another archetypal character, usually an older relative or confidante,
The wise old man/ woman must point out to the protagonist that change is
not to be feared,
6, Now come up

with another event that willforce the hero to act

It's all about plotting. The next event in your story will be the one that
propels the hero into his journey proper. Make it interesting and ideally

unexpected. But also make sure that the hero responds appropriately,
If you complete this simple exercise you will have a story idea for the

first quarter of your hero's story. Easy, right? As I say, you don't always
need to use every element of the hero's journey - but it's probably a good
idea if you do. But at the end of the day, of course, it's your call,

Here's an example of how you might use the above list to create a

story idea,

1. Derek Naseby, 43, is an accountant

2, He worksfor a bank, he!s bored with bis life and is secretly seeking

His sister, Haney, is horribly murderedin aforeign country

4.. Atfirst, Derek is in shock His sister was a journalist in a war-zone,

What can he dol

5\ Nothing, Hefeelspowerless butgoes to talk to hisfather
6\ Derek'sfather is dying and makesDerek promise he willfindout what
happened to Nancy

And so the hero's adventure begins

You Own Hero's Journey Exercise

At this point it's a good idea to ask yourself: Where am I on my own
hero s jo urney?
A reyo u just starting o ut?Haveyo uyet to move out ofyo ur comfort zone
and begin the process of change? Or have you already made the decision to
take on the adventure of becoming a successful writer? Was it an easy
decision?If so, areyou sure it was compelling enough to lastyou through the
tough times?V$ hen you make a decision, you also need powerful reasons to
back up your rationale for it. Otherwise that decision is merely a whim, A
committed decision implies a course of action and a willingness to see it
through despite any and all consequences,

Being accepted as a writer can be challenging. Your friends and

family may project resistance. Other writers may not be supportive,
Publishers will make it hard for you. Getting a decent agent may be
impossible. Self-publishing can be nerve-wracking, expensive, and not
always a rewarding experience. Are you ready for the journey ahead?

Perhaps you've had some success already and are looking for a new
round of challenges. Our lives revolve in cycles. There's no full stop or
destination, only the continuing opportunity to grow, learn and improve,
If you're looking for inspiration and.the motivation to take on the next
chapter of your life, imagine yourself as a fictional hero. Where are you
now? Whatsyo ur curren t reality?A reyo u happy being whereyo u are?

If not, doyou have an agenda?Doyou havefreshgoals?

If not, why not?

Make plans now. Make them bigger. Often we don't set ourselves high
enough standards or want to attain large enough dreams.

Write down a set of goals, five or ten or twenty. Then look hard at
them collectively. Can you sum up your goals into one simple phrase? That
will be your agenda.
I want to be a bestselling author- that kind of thing.

Visualize yourself as a character in a story. Where does that character

eventually end up? At the point at which his or her goals are achieved? Of
course. But did they arrive there easily?

Of course not.
What were the obstacles to the hero's success? How were they

Now visualize the obstacles to your own success and imagine yourself

overcoming them.
Do this exercise for at least five minutes every day, preferably just
before bedtime.

Using the Tarot to Create Fictional Characters

Take the first six cards (XheF&olplus the first five- numbered cards) of
the Major Arcana and place them face down on a tabletop in front of yon,
Turn one over and meditate on the image,
What kindof character won/dpersonify this card toyou?
What wouldtheirattributes be?
What would they wantfrom life?
What wouldbe theirimmediate agenda?

Imagine what these characters would be like in your stories,

Ho w would they think, act andinteract with othercharacters?

How would they be in conflict with othercharacters?

What wouldtheir presence symbolize?

Have fun with this exercise. When you're done with inventing
characters for each card, try combinations of two cards and imagine a
character with both characteristics. Then try the same exercise with three
cards and invent a character with three qualities that define them. And so

Module Two: Emergence

What lies behind us and whatlies before us are tiny matters compared
to whatlies within us, "


Ralph Waldo Emerson

Within seconds of meeting her at the airport I knew she'd been

tin faithful I could tell from her studied indifference beneath the forced
bonhomie. And the way she pursed her lips when we kissed. Gone was any
suggestion of a preference for my company. Her love for me, her respect
even was entirely absent. Behind her fake smile, she was distant. I felt
more alone in that moment than I had during the three months we'd spent

The logical thing to do would've been to say goodbye and go home

but, One, I'dspent a small fortune getting from England to Adelaide, Two,
she kept up the pretense of wanting me there and, Three, well, I
immediately liked the place. South Australia was comparatively pretty and
smelled fresh after the smog of London, Plus I felt cleaner, lighter, less
troubled, as you do when you're on holiday,

Together we rented a house close to town. The Beast went to work

every day and I began writing, I abandoned my awful novel and began to
work on short stories - which I figured I could sell if they were good enough,
Over the next month I also applied for work at a multitude of firms

and employment agencies. Despite having a host of the right

qualifications, it was clear I wouldn't be getting a job any time soon,
Australians, for all their famed fair-mindedness, are an insecure breed,
especially about English people, whom they distrust for never doing the
sensible thing a hundred and fifty years ago by leaving the Motherland,
Plus, my previous annual salary was considered ridiculously huge
compared to the average wage in Adelaide, I was warned to limit my

After the gruesome rat- race of Lon don f I found the slow pace of life in
South Australia pleasant. I went to the beach often, wrote fiction when not
job hunting either at home or in cafes and bars, I sought out writers'
groups, markets for short stories and studied, lots of writing resources, all
the while committed to being a professional writer within a year. As you
might have predicted, during this time, everything I submitted to
magazines and book publishers was unceremoniously rejected, often
completely ignored,

After three months I ran out of money and The Beast refused to lend
me any. She'd always been like that, I was the supposed breadwinner in
her mind and nothing was going to change that arrangement, I realized
that my writing dream was going nowhere in a hurry. In desperation I took
a three -day course on driving a taxicab and began ferrying tourists around
the capital on twelve-hour shifts that made you want to eat all day just to

relieve the tedium. Inevitably, I gained weight

Luckily I was offered three office jobs in the same week, I took the one
that paid the most, of course. It was a position working for the Department
of Education as a contract manager. After a couple of months, when The
Beast realized the job wasn't temporary, she told me she wanted me to stop
writing, as the whole thing was annoying to her, I held back my thoughts
but silently visualized thick pins and voodoo dolls. If she was aware of my
insolence I don't know. She choose that time (3 discovered later) to visit a
lover in Alice Springs for a few days. She came back so happy she barely
noticed me for weeks,
At around the same time, I joined a writer's group, which I embraced
wholeheartedly. It gave me a goal to write a short story a week. There were
about a dozen members most of them published writers. We'd read out

our stories on Monday nights and each of us would provide a small critique
and offer suggestions. To be frank, it was the best writing instruction I'd
ever received.
I'm ashamed to say I fell back into old habits, I began writing a novel
at work tacitly in my spare moments of course. But still, it soon became
common knowledge I was writing a vast sprawling epic fantasy on my
office computer. The IT department noticed and I was summarily sacked
by my boss. She was nice about it though, simply saying, "You should be at
home writing, Rob, We all kno w that's whatyou'd rather be doing.; "

Now I had again to work out how I was going to support myself
without a proper job. By now I had a fat mortgage on a house in Belair, so I

had no choice but to somehow keep bringing in money but this time with
writing as the focus of my endeavors,
I was determined not to go back to work. It was do or die. After
spending money I couldn't afford on a motivation and success coach, I
began writing a nonfiction ebook that I thought might make money online,

The days were tough going, staying motivated, and dodging The
Beast if abuse every time she came home and quizzed me over what I'd been
doing all day. As fortune would have it, on my birthday, a literary agent
offered to try and sell my epic fantasy. Simultaneously The Beast
announced she was going on a trip around the world on which I wasn't
invited, I was glad. I spent three months re-editing my novel, Immortal
Flame, and duly sent it to the agent. I crossed my fingers and toes and off
went the manuscript to Harper Collins,

If you were paying attention during the above bit of memoir, you will
have noticed that my story pretty much follows the structure of the second
quarter of the hero's journey which, in shorthand, is:
L Hero commits to a cause
2, Hero tested
3, Hero experiences trepidation
4.. Hero recruitsallies

#, Hero isfurther tested

6\ Herogains initialsuccess through sacrifice

The Next Five C&rds in The Tarot

Similarly, the second quarter of the hero's journey can be neatly
encapsulated in the next five cards in the Major Arcana of the Tarot,
namely: The Lovers, The Charioti Strengthf The Hermit, and The Wheel of

The theme of the hero's journey second quarter is 'tested'. The fiction
protagonist must move from his safe world into another, more challenging
version of reality, perhaps one he was not aware existed, A place where old
values come under scrutiny, where former assumptions are questioned
and where there will be a need to acquire tools and knowledge to deal with
the upcoming story,
The heroic Fool must begin this process of self-examination by
navigating various life lessons: love, ambition, courage, honest reflection
and the mysteries of fate, TheFooiis tested in these areas, just as we ail are,
because they enable our growth, and facilitate our ability to understand
the nature of the world. But rather than this being an entirely mental
process, we need to take physical action and become part of the world at
large. We need actual lessons on the basics of living. We need to get

In The Lovers card we're tested emotionally. We're asked. What is

more important: duty or pleasure? This is the same question that Hercules
was posed before his famous labors. It's a question we may ask ourselves
too. Would you prefer a life of avoidance or would you rather acceptthe call
to action, to actually make a difference, and in doing so, become a hero,

The Ch&riotxvpctt ents our need for setting goals and asks whether we
have the tenacity to identify and pursue them. It is also a reminder that
despite our best intentions, motivation is static without action. The Chariot
in most versions of the Tarot is stationary incapable of moving forward.
Like most of us at the beginning of a new project, the charioteer is full of
words and bluster but is not yet in a position to test his resolve,

The Strength card indicates to us we need inner strength to deal with

life's problems. It's metaphor being 'taming the beast' within us. We also
need tact and diplomacy when dealing with others, because we care about
people's feelings. In fiction, we need our characters to get things done but
not by being callous and. unthinking, W e need our hero to be fully involved
in his interactions and make demands on his allies that are reasonable,
Also, his friends must make decisions that are logical and consistent with
their own characteristics,

TheHermit shows us that it's perfectly okay to retire and think things
through. Being alone does not necessarily mean being lonely. Sometimes
we need time to recharge our batteries or simply to contemplate decisions
and visualize their consequences, Your hero needs time to reflect too at this
most important junction of his journey,

The above four cards show us that when we deal with life correctly,
we gain independence and the ability to know our own strengths and
weaknesses. They teach us that it's alright to have faults as long as we see
them in context of our personalities and don't hate ourselves for having
them: they're useful to us on the road to enlightenment and self-control,
Because when we take responsibility for our own actions we're in a position
to change our destinies,
But there's a caveat,

The Wheelof Fortune tells us that taking responsibility is only part of

the equation. There is always Fate, or Chance, if you prefer, that intervenes
in our lives. We can never be fully in control. There's always something
outside of ourselves that is fickle and uncontrollable. The same is true for
your hero. As strong as he is, he too must bend to the will of you, the
author, who will no doubt test his resolve and abilities at many points in
your story,

Introduction to the Second Quarter

Last module we looked at the first quarter of the hero's journey. We
examined how the lead character in your tale progresses from his normal
life and is metaphorically 'jolted, awake' and forced to face a new reality,
Though he may feel inadequate, he eventually responds to the 'call to
action1 which leads him to accepting the 'challenge' that awaits him at the
end of the first quarter,

Remember that your story doesn't have to a genre fantasy tale or a

more traditional quest to use elements of the hero's journey. As an example,
Judd Apatow's movie Knocked Up actually follows the hero's journey
precisely, almost to the point of formula - but unless you're Looking for the
signs, you'd probably never notice,

In Knocked Up, the protagonist Ben Stone begins as a no hoper with

a bunch of 'loser' friends (as we studied, the hero as he is and has been for
sometime) who gets lucky with a pretty girl Alison at a nightclub. After a
night of unprotected sex, she falls pregnant. Here, in the first twenty
minutes of the story, the hero is tested and taken out of his comfort zone. At
this point, he consults his father (the mentor archetype) and based on
feedback from his friends and family, commits to a relationship with
Alison, This is the first quarter of the hero's journey as we studied it in last
module. If you haven't seen the movie, watch it. Or, if you have watched it
and weren't aware of the hero's journey within its structure, watch it again!

Interestingly, there's another aspect of the classic hero's journey that

is employed in this movie. That is, the only character that grows and
changes is the hero, Ben, The other characters - his friends, the mentor,
even Alison - remain essentially static as personalities. There's no
development, growth or change in any of the characters except the hero
(played by Seth Rogen), thereby highlighting the hero's journey by

Many new writers want all of their lead characters to grow and
change throughout the course of their stories. But this is not strictly
necessary. Indeed it can be confusing for a reader. Deliberately contrasting

the hero's development against the static nature of his old world is a great
way of showingthat your hero really has grown and changedby the end of
your story,

The Second Quarter

In classical literature, the second, quarter is usually represented by
some form of 'descent' - either into an 'underworld' or deeper into some
kind of perilous journey. You see this in stories like The Odyssey by Homer,
where the underworld is literally an underground place where the dead
live. In the legend of St George or the chronicle of Beowulf the hero visits
the cave of a dragon. Even in the first fiction story ever recorded, Gilg&mesh
and his friend, Enkidu, journey to the Cedar Forest to test their mettle
against a man-eating monster, Humbaba, who guards the mountain,

Interestingly, in modern fiction, though the references are sometimes

not so obvious, the metaphorical 'descent' is still fairly recognizable. For
our purposes, it is where the plot becomes more complex, usually darker, as
the hero tries to get to grips with his new responsibilities and is literally
thrown into the unknown to find his own way. This is usually a time of
adjustment for the hero and making mistakes is inevitable. In fact these
mistakes are necessary to his development. These mistakes - or lessons
learned - may be planted by the author in the form of plot development, or
they may arise as a result of the character using his old belief system to
deal with new problems in ways that are now inappropriate to the person
he must become,

The Writer's Journey

As you explore scenarios for your hero to face, you, as the writer, must
also test yourself. Your hero may be somewhat out of his depth. You too
may feel the same way. You may be asking yourself, How do Iproceed with
this story? How do 1 make it the best 1can? Don't be afraid to push your
imagination to the limits. Don't just stick with tired old ideas - things
you've seen and. read, a thousand times already strive to be original,
honest, and don't play it safe,

It's okay to make mistakes, just like your hero. It's okay to stumble and

fall, or to be out of your depth. There's no point in making things easy for
yourself. If you do, you can't learn anything of value, improve, or
appreciate your successes,
In order for your story to be compelling, you need to be as original as
possible, which means you must be yourself. Let your personality define
the uniqueness of your moral system, your values and your idea of what's a
good test or obstacle. As a guide to originality, your first idea is rarely the
one you should go with. When plotting, keep asking yourself, How much
further can Igo with this? How much worse can things get? If you're feeling
you're outside of your comfort zone, that's good. The ideas you come up
with at this point will often be the most compelling, the right ideas to run

But then ask yourself, Are my newscenarios in line with my character's

capabilities? Is this afair challenge?\f not, adjust accordingly. It's better to
push the boundaries first and then trim back, rather than never venture

out of your comfort zone at all

John Grisham's The Firm

At the three o' clock point of change in The Firm, the hero, Mitch, is

aware that the Memphis law firm is doing something illegal but chooses
not to challenge the status quo. He ignores the warning signs. For the
promise of money and power, the hero decides he will commit to a way of
life that is unfamiliar, alluring, but ultimately dangerous. In the first
quarter of his journey, Mitch enjoys the good life. He's been taken out of his
old life at college and presented with a career that his girlfriend, Abby,
knows is too good to be true. But Mitch doesn't care. He's like us excited
that his dream is taking shape, though he's blinkered about what's actually
going on. He's aware that he's being unduly fasrt tracked and that he's
being overpaid. But he's received counsel from his mentor figure and his
ambition drives him on, despite knowing he's probably living on borrowed


During the second quarter Mitch begins to get suspicious. He hires a

private investigator to look into the unexplained deaths of his employer's
lawyers. In the movie version, Mitch makes the mistake of sleeping with a
woman on a beach, unaware that later this act will be used to lever his
further involvement with the Morolto mob. The hero is making mistakes,
He's caught up in the journey and leaving his former life behind. There is
back-story developed here too about the hero's past- his need to escape his
family and friends, especially his criminally inclined brother (who

ironically the hero is mimicking with his own decision making.)

Mitch is also driven by the need to impress his wife, Abby, though, as
we've learned, she needs make no emotional journey. She was content with
their lives, though is now wary. The private investigator is killed, but the
firm simply carries on as normal - its true purpose hidden from view. The
law firm's senior executives play the good guys and lavish the hero with
praise and promise of a better life, inviting him to their homes to show how
good the hero's life can be if he tows the line. These are all carefully planted
plot devices that explain and deepen the hero's descent into his journey,
Later we read about the consequences of these mini 'self-deceptions'
but at this second quarter point in the hero's journey, we identify with the
hero - his excitement, his ambition, even his mistakes, because we want
the hero to succeed, especially in unfamiliar, testing situations,

The Underworld as a Metaphor

In the classical model, the hero often visits The Underworld in the
second quarter of his journey. He is faced with death, demons and
monsters and though tested, is really only establishing to the reader's
satisfaction that he is the right man for the job. It's a very old technique,
one that dates back to antiquity. Simply put, we let the reader know the
hero has the right stuff in the second quarter of the story. Why? Well, if we
didn't see that the hero was at least capable early on, then the hero's final
challenge would lack any kind of credibility,

You see this same technique used all the time in TV shows, movies
and books, The hero is given some opportunity to overcome a relatively
minor obstacle or face-off some danger fairly early in the story. This is
deliberate. The plot event is there (usually at the four o' clock point of the
Story) to assure us tbe reader or fh e viewer that, th ough flawed, th e b exo
has qualities that may become necessary to defeat a much larger foe or
challenge later in the story. The foe may be another character, a
personality defect or an event - even a natural phenomenon like a
hurricane but it will later (usually at the nine o' clock point of the story)
become the biggest challenge that character must ever face. In order to
believe in a particular hero's journey, we must first believe that hero is
capable of overcoming smaller obstacles on the way,

In the A lexRiderbooks by Anthony Horowitz for example, just like Ian

Fleming's James Bond) after an initial first test, the hero is continually
tested by seemingly impossible situations - which get ever more extreme
and difficult as the story progresses. Again, this is deliberate. It ensures
reader identification. If the reader believes, like the hero, that he/she is
capable of overcoming a similar 'first test' then, even when the tests
become supremely difficult, the author has made sure the reader wants to
will the hero on to further success,

Umberto Eco'fc The Name of the Rose

Identifying the real hero in a novel is not always clear. The Name of
the Rose is a case in point. At its most basic level, this brilliant novel is a

murder mystery solved by a medieval sleuth - William of Baskerville who is often mistaken for the hero of the story. In reality it is the monkdetective's young assistant, Adso of Melk, that actually experiences the
hero's journey,

Just like Sherlock Holmes, the 'detective' in The Name of the Rose does
not grow or change, William and Sherlock are essentially static characters
who fulfill their roles as genii but who remain, to all intents and purposes,
untouched by the events that befall them,

And just like Watson, it is Adso who experiences learning and

wisdom through the action of his mentor. In the Sherlock Holmes tales, it is
John Watson who is constantly having to reassess his worldview and
learn from the 'new reality' that Holmes represents in each new story,
Similarly it is Adso the apprentice who is forced to accept a new version of
reality as he follows William of Baskerville on his investigation, Adso must
learn that religious life is not all it's cracked up to be: not only are monks
dying horribly all around him, but there doesn't seem to be much piety and
compassion in evidence. The final reveal that the monk's are simply
trying to read humorous texts that have been laced with poison will
ultimately be a profound shock to Adso's world. For William it is merely

This is one of the reasons why young people are often used in this
way to propel fiction. Only a young person will be sufficiently altered by
the experience of an adult world and is therefore the best person to see that
fictional world through. For instance, in The Name of the Rose, Adso
discovers sex for the first time, and we experience all the joy and wonder of

that through him; he is also constantly being questioned, instructed and

tested by the medieval detective in order to show the reader that the world
of this novel is different from our own and therefore compelling,
In the second quarter of his hero's journey in particular, it is the young
man's faith that is tested, Adso is continually reminded that his
traditional, naive worldview is being brought into question - especially as
he can't work out why G od would 'punish' so many good monks by having
them die in so many seemingly bizarre ways,

Of course the end twist is all too human - and I won't spoil it if you
haven't read it yet. Suffice it to say that The Name of the Rose is, in my
humble opinion, one of the greatest (and funniest) novels ever written. It's
right up there in my top five novels of all time. The writing is sometimes
dense but if you can get past that, it's a fabulous read,

Other Writers
Talking of great novelists, much can be learned about journeying
toward writing success from studying the lives of some contemporary

Matthew Reilly famously self- published his first novel, Contest,

entirely convinced right from the start that his future lie in being a popular
novelist. To my eyes the writing in the first version of Contest is crude and
patchy but it does contain all the elements that make Reilly the popular

author he is today. His later work is more polished and less experimental
but, as an exercise in how to become successful as a writer, Reilly's courage
shows us that there's little harm in growing up in public,

Many new writers are terrified of revealing their first novels to the
world. But the fact is we all have to start somewhere. And not all of us can
wait until we're faultless authors before we put out our first books. Many of
us may have to complete the second quarter of our hero's journey under the
critical eyes of readers and reviewers. This is increasingly the case these
days with the advent of self-publishing sites like Amazon and iStore, and
Kindle in particular,
Many new authors are discovering that success is not always about
flawless presentation, at least at first. It is possible, as writers like EL James,
Douglas Clegg and MJ Rose have proved, to ignore the negative
pronouncements of traditional publishers and self- publish online in order
to attain a loyal following. True, most authors that succeed at selfpublishing are prolific and obviously self-motivated. But it's clear that
being rejected by publishers need not be a bad thing to the writer on a pre
defined hero's journey where the perceived obstacles are not considered
onerous. An author prepared to go it alone and live out the second quarter
of the hero's journey in public is to be admired. All the more so when the
author moves beyond, the second quarter and achieves literary credibility
and success against the odds,
Clive Barker has long been a hero of mine. Despite his huge
accomplishments as an author of horror and dark fantasy, his talent
seems to have been largely misunderstood by Hollywood and the general

public. Originally touted by Stephen King as the 'future of horror', Barker

has been involved in film-making since before the success of his classic
Books of B/oodin 1984, When he was thirty -five he directed the ingenious
Hellraiser - now rated at No, 19 in Bravo's 100 Scariest Movies. He's also the
writer and/or producer of over fifteen movies and various comic books
spin-offs based on his work, including Candyman and The Thief of Always.
And yet most punters outside of the horror genre would be hard-pressed to
know his name. From the point of view of celebrity, Barker is a man whose
career is arguably confined to the second quarter of the hero's journey. He's
risen to the challenge, attained the initial stages of success, shown that he's
more than capable of the task ahead but has yet to properly receive the
recognition he deserves,

How to Deepen the Hero's Joutney

I use the word 'deepen' deliberately, taking the metaphor of descent
literally. From a purely traditional point of view, you may prefer the word
'strengthen' or 'add complexity to' the hero's journey in its second quarter,

Just like the first quarter, you will need to come up with about half a
dozen plot points for this quarter, where a plot point can be anything from
an event, an interaction, a revelation, a challenge; at least one of which will
be a character-defining obstacle for the hero to overcome before the end of
the second quarter. This will ensure that you have properly 'tightened the
screws' within your story at this point.

From a practical perspective, how can you help 'tighten the screws' in
your own story?

Remember that each plot point should contribute to your hero's 'outer'
journey: the journey that is evident to the reader and everyone else in the
story. His 'inner' journey need not be so apparent - as this is already
contained within the structure of the hero' journey,
As your story develops, readers should feel they are learning more

information about your hero but also that his inner self is being
increasingly 'revealed' through his actions - as in, he's becoming a richer
character. This is done by showing the hero in increasingly challenging
scenes that require him to use all sides of his personality and using
perhaps the Tarot 'Specific sides of his character: the lover, the ambitious
seeker, the strong diplomat, the philosopher and the risk-taker,

During the second quarter, ask yourself, Is my hero moving ever closer
to hisgoals?Are his actions consistent with his agenda?Is there a theme that
can be said to sum up the hero's goals? At every plot point in the second
quarter we should see the journey unfolding in a logical manner, each new
step revealing an obstacle that the hero must overcome,
By the end of the second quarter it should be obvious that the hero is
motivated by and committed to his journey (though he may still have

doubts that's natural after all) and that a whole new world of opportunity
and, most likely, psychological danger has opened up to him,

To a certain extent all good story telling is achieved through the writer
getting the reader to ask the simple question, "What happens next?"When a
reader asks this question, you know that you, the writer, have done your

In the first quarter of your story, the question would ideally be, "What
are the herosgoals?"ln the second quarter, the question becomes, "Will the
hero overcome his obstacles to success?KwiL of course the answer is going to
be, in 99,99% of cases, yes. But by the end of the second quarter it's howthe
hero will achieve this end that makes the story fun, interesting and
compelling. So the central question, "What happens next?" takes on a far
more critical role in the second quarter. If the answer at this point is, 1don ft
doubt hellsucceed, "you're probably going to bore your reader very quickly,
The full hero's journey requires an element of doubt. The hero, though he's
trying hard, should find that his agenda is progressively more difficult to
maintain, whether that be through the actions of other characters, an
increasingly hostile bad guy, or events and obstacles that appear ever
more insurmountable. To test the viability of your hero's journey template,
ask yourself at each plot point Am I making things too easyfor my hero?

At the beginning of your story you were allowed the luxury of
introducing your characters, their agendas and their lives. You may have
spent time on exposition and back-story, and perhaps dwelled on some
light dramatic relief. That's fine for the first quarter. However, in the
second quarter, the pace of your story should increase. As the hero's
journey gains momentum, action and dialogue should be shown in real
time, with events unfolding more quickly. Basically, your plot points
should now come closer together,

To be ultra specific, whereas you may have had a significant plot

point ten or twelve pages apart during your first quarter, in the second
quarter you will now need to have them, on average, every four or five


Action Versus Calm

A roller-coaster of thrills and emotional highs may be the stuff of the
average bestseller these days. But constant action with no let up can be
wearing to read. In most novels you will need to pace your action by
having scenes of lighter 'relief in between, A fierce battle, for instance, may
need a gentle aftermath, time for the participants to regroup, A stormy
argument may need a time of reconciliation, A series of shocking events
may be made all the more powerful by interspersing periods of calm. The
classic Moby Dickey Herman Melville uses this technique. Scenes of life-

threatening excitement are punctuated by (some would say overlong by

today's standards) periods of character development and back-story probably much like the reality of an epic sea voyage with many strangers
on board. In more modern novels like Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey,
periods of immense emotional upheaval are often enveloped within long
passages of internal dialogue and exposition,
But remember, even in more cerebral stories, each successive hurdle
and obstacle should be greater and more difficult than the previous, and
the calm periods in between, shorter,

Is your reader aware of some of the challenges your hero might face
later on in your book? They should be. Just like you want your reader to ask,
What happens next?- you will need your reader to ask, What will happen

In a thriller this question may be implicit. It's fairly obvious to most

thriller readers that the protagonist will eventually have to face the bad
guy. In a romance it's usually inevitable that the protagonist and her lover
will need to face their largest obstacle just before their final union. In
fantasy, the hero pretty much always has to face the enemy alone at the
end of the quest. But if it's not so obvious in your story, you should plant
the seeds of the hero's ultimate challenge during this second quarter of
your plot, if not before. Engendering this sense of anticipation of coming

events in your reader is important - to keep them reading and asking

questions. This tactic however but should not be confused with
foreshado wing- see below,

Does Youi Reader Feel Superior?

It's a good literary trick to sometimes give your reader more

information than the hero is aware of. At its simplest level., it's a bit Like
those pantomimes where the audience is forced to shout. Hes behindyou!
when the hero is apparently blissfully unaware he's being stalked by the
bad guy,

Giving the reader information that is not known to the hero enables
your reader to root for your hero and also creates suspense. The reader may
be asking questions like, What will happen when the hero discovers such and
such?How will he cope with that scenario?etc, Try not to overuse this tactic
though. It may stretch credibility if the hero remains ignorant of
something obvious. Plus, if readers suspect that an upcoming scenario is
inevitable, they may lose enthusiasm for the story altogether,

Sever sal $ of Pot tune

It's a good idea to play with your reader's expectations, and to make

sure that the reader doesn't always have the right or obvious answers. This

is why, as I mentioned before, it's not always your first idea that is your
best. Because your first idea will often be the reader's too. Better to lead a
reader's questions to answers that seems logical, then deliberately plant a
twist on those assumptions. Y ou can do this most effectively at the plotting
stage. Just when you think your reader might know what is about to
happen, change the plot point. If the reader anticipates success at a certain
point, have the herofail. And vice versa. This is a good way of subtly letting
your reader know that you, the author, are in control and that the hero's
journey contains surprises.

When the hero is in jeopardy and facing certain defeat, he will need
certain tools and personal attributes to fight back and escape. That's a
given. But in fiction you can't have objects and skills or the cavalry
appearing just in the nick of time. Y ou need to let the reader know that the
hero has the necessary skills and tools before he needs them. Otherwise
your hero's escape will be unbelievable.

For instance, to take the most obvious example, James Bond is

invariably given gadgets by M (it's now Q I think) during the first quarter of

a story. Most times we forget about the gadgets until James needs to use
them. It would be most unsatisfactory if we, the audience, weren't told
about them earlier. Similarly, if a heroine is tied to a chair and her only
chance of escape will come in the form of a cop, we need to know or can
safely assume that the cop is on his way for her escape to be believable.

Better still we should know about the nail file she has secreted on her
person that will help her cut the ropes,

Planting objects and skills earlier in the text may be something you
need to do at the editing stage. If your hero needs to be a great swimmer or a
marksman at some point at the end of your story , this skill should ideally
be foreshadowed earlier in the text - ideally so early that the reader, in
effect, forgets about it until that skill is needed,
It's a fairly simple technique - and one that is obvious when you're
looking for it - but it's a tactic that has served writers well for a very long
time. Use it.

The End of the Second Quarter

When structuring the second quarter of the hero's journey, here's the
rough template:
L The hero commits to the cause
2, The hero is tested with mixedresults

The hero experiences trepidation

4.. Recruitment of allies

, Further testing

6\ The hero succeeds in some small way

The hero's success in the final plot point here shows that he has
finally abandoned his previous existence and is totally committed to the
adventure, his course of action and / or his new environment The
symbolic six o'clock point is therefore the point at which the hero's past life
is extinguished,
In the classical model, the midpoint of the story may also represent a
kind of metaphorical 'death' forthe hero- where he is no longer the person
he was at the beginning of the story,
Next module we'll look at the third quarter- where the hero continues
on his quest but must face the ultimate challenge and have a symbolic re
birth into the new personality he has become,

Exexcises 2

Hero's Jouttiey Second Quarter

Take the following list and create your own character's hero's journey,
L The hero commits to the cause

Your hero will have been moved into a position whereby he has no
choice but to act - based on his agenda and the circumstances you have
plotted. Identify his next course of action,

The hero is tested with mixed results

Having committed to a decision or taken a step forward, explain what

happens. Does your hero achieve some success? If not, why not? What
more does he need to learn? What allies /strengths does he need? What
events does he need to experience to further his agenda?
The hero experiences trepidation
A good fictional character takes one step forward only to be kicked
back two. Show your character is a real person by having them experience
the pain of failure, rejection or dismissal. Without pain, remember, there
can be no growth. Without drag, there's no lift,

4. Recruitment of allies
Your hero can't do it all alone, He'Ll need friends, helpers. If not, he'll
need tools, new abilities. Make a note of what qualities and attributes your
hero will need to ere ate/ attract eventual victory on his hero's journey,

5. Further testing
A hero does not give up. He may fail

- and often. But he will keep

coming back and trying something new - that's what defines him as a
hero. Insert another test of your hero's skills at this point in the story,
6. The hero succeeds in some small way

At the end of the second quarter the hero achieves some degree of
success through sacrificing his old values. It's the turning point in his
journey. From this point on, galvanized by a measure of control over his
inner journey, the hero can look forward to the third quarter,

Your Own Hero's Journey

Having acknowledged your goals, have you visualized your potential
obstacles? Hoping for the best but preparing for the worst may sound like
an uninspiring philosophy but it is the cornerstone of good business sense,
When you become a professional writer, whether you like the idea or not,
you become a business. And the way to make a business successful is to

make a business plan,

In the exercises at the end of the first module, we visualized ourselves
as protagonists on our own hero's journey. Now is the time to take those
thoughts and images and formalize them. Write them down. Use a
spreadsheet if you wish,

Make a list of objectives and give them a time-line. Guess how long it
will take you to complete your chosen writing projects and add this
information to your spreadsheet. Don't stop there. Add the steps you will
need to take after your novel, short stories, nonfiction book or articles are
written. Make a list of promotional activities you will need to do to make
yourself and your work known to the world. And just like business plan,
don't just focus on the activities, take time out for the other information
necessary to convince a bank, say, that you have a solid idea for a
commercial enterprise. In separate files, list your research material, show
that there is a demand, for your writing, prove at least to yourself that you
have a shot at making money from your business plan. Success is defined
by money earned because money makes it possible for you to continue
your writing career. Without money coming in, you will have no spare
time to write. So include your projections about how much money you will
make writing. The figures don't have to be accurate, but they do need to be
there: without a monetary figure to aspire to, you're not thinking of your
writing as a career, merely a whim. Taking some time out now to formalize
your writing aspirations, by turning them into a concrete business plan,
will transform your dreams into a viable reality,

Now, is there some event in your life that has symbolized your

passage through your own second quarter? Most likely it will be something
you've done you didn't realize you were capable oh This is good. When
making plans and moving toward your goals, you need evidence that you
are achieving success. It need only be something minor - finishing an
article or planning a novel - but you need external signals that convince
your internal subconscious mind you're on a journey toward success,
Celebrate your achievements, however minor. Make even your
smallest successes feel significant and you will begin to feel more

Take the cards numbered 6 to 12: The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength,
The Hermit, and The Wheel of Fortunet and place them face up on your
tabletop. Meditate on the images. Which cards are you most drawn to? And
what do the images mean to you?
In a traditional pack, The Lovers card contains three people. One man,
the neophyte, and two women re presenting two aspects of a decision. The
younger lover represents youth, immaturity, beauty, pleasure, hedonism
and often avoidance of responsibility. The older lover represents duty, the
comfort of normality, the mundane, self-control and loyalty. If you were
the man in this picture, to whom would you gravitate?
To be clear, there are no right answers in the Tarot, That's not what

these images are for. The Tarot is about asking yourself questions and
identifying your motivations and values. Because it's the act of asking and
identifying these issues that is more important than discerning any pre
packaged 'answers'. People often make this mistake when they first come
to the Tarot. They assume it's some sort of oracle that can divine the future,
It's not. It's primarily a tool for self-discovery: a way of objectifying reality
through pictures that resonate with certain archetypal images within our

The Chariot represents your ability to see further than just in front of
your nose. The man in the chariot is ready for action. He's considered his
place in the now and wants to create a new space for himself in the future,
The two lions that sit in front of the chariot symbolize mystery and
pragmatism and. indicate that the wise man knows life is a combination of
both. Rely too heavily on either and your life will stand still, Foster a
connection to both and you will begin to move forward,

The Strength card is literally about taming the beast. The beast is
within you: that wildly immature, reflexive child that snatches at
opportunities without due thought; the baby in you that cries at the merest
slight; the angry animal in you that is slave to raw instincts like rage,
jealousy, self-immolation and bitterness. The woman in the picture tames
the beast, showing us that with gentleness, respect and. patience, the lion's
strength can be domesticated and focused. But the power of the animal is
not diminished, merely realigned to help the woman in her pursuit of selfcontrol,

The Hermit is not lonely. He holds the light of wisdom in his hands,

Knowledge and the ability to take time out to reflect are the hermit's best
friends. He is tall, upright, disciplined and has no need for self-glorification
or ego. His trappings are plain: he does not want to draw attention to
himself. These are the qualities of a strong, self-possessed individual who
knows that true wisdom is not an exterior commodity, it is an internal
possession that needs time alone to recognize and nurture,

The Wheel of Fortune is self-explanatory. You cannot know

everything, you can predict nothing with certainty, there is always an
element of doubt, of fickle fate. But this doesn't mean there's no hope. The
four symbols at each corner of the card point toward your need to master
the four main elements of the human psyche: passion, intellect, intuition
and material reality. Once you have gained mastery of yourself, then the
need for chance makes sense to you. Chance is what manifested life in the
first place. Without chaos and the innate ability of matter to create order
from a million simultaneous possibilities, there would be no YOU at all,
That's the secret power of The Wheel of Fortune - and knowing it will make
you whole,

Take ten minutes out of each day to meditate on the above five and
other Tarot cards. All seventy eight of them have meanings some
obvious, some arcane, many hidden away inside of you, waiting to be
perceived and claimed,

Module Three: Road of Trials

JFveryone has a talen L What is rare is the co urage to folio w the talen t to
the darkplace where it leads, "
Erica Jong

I hope the concepts I've been teaching have helped you begin
structuring your ideas, plots and stories. One of the things you realize
when you study the hero's journey is that, in fact, it's all around us somewhat hidden in plain sight sometimes - but there nevertheless,
underpinning most fiction - in books, movies, TV shows and very much in
evidence in comic book stories,

And comics are where we direct our focus initially in this module
because essentially, comic book heroes tend to live out their fictional lives
eternally trapped in the third quarter of the hero's journey,
Let's take a look at the third quarter in detail,

The Hero's Joutney So Far

By the way, writers have asked me in the past just how much of the
story they should be spending on each quarter. Rest assured, the structure
is implicit. The first quarter of your hero's journey will normally take up the
first quarter of your story. The end of the second quarter will likely take you
to the middle of your story. And so on,
Any way, in the first module we saw the hero living his normal life as
he had been for some time, W e saw him tested until, at the end of the first
quarter, he makes a commitment to embark on the adventure. In the
second quarter we saw the hero tested and failing, still basically 'tied' to his
old life until eventually he reaches a climactic event at the midpoint of the
story. The midpoint (where we begin the third quarter) sees the hero
forever altered by some initial success at changing who he is by sacrificing
his old self. Now, he is ready to become the person he originally set out to
be. Though he is not yet fully realized, he is truly on a mission,

This is the point at which we meet our familiar superhero,

Super heroes

The third quarter of Iron Man's journey begins when Stark realizes he
has no choice but to fight evil. His conscience has led him to this decision
after his own technology has been used against innocent people,
something he cannot live with. At this time, Stark has left his old self
behind. He is no longer the playboy bent on hedonistic pleasure. He has
seen the reality of his actions concerning his business and been horrified

by the consequences of the weapons he's been manufacturing. But more,

He is literally a changed man: his heart has been replaced by a mechanical
device- a metaphorical symbol if ever there was one. As a consequence, he
has changed his perspective and begun to use his technological skill to
create a superhero body for himself in the form of Iron Man.
In the third quarter of Stark's journey, therefore, he must face evil, do
battle, and win. He now has the courage of his convictions and, despite
being tested and. failing initially, is willing to stand up to the enemy and
show them who's in control from this point on. In the comic book stories,
Iron Man exists forever in this stage of his development - permanently
tested, just like all superheroes - right up to the end of third quarter point of
facing the ultimate challenge or supreme bad guy, only to be thrown back
to the beginning of the third quarter in the next installment of the story,

This strategy of forever replaying the third quarter explains the

enduring appeal of superheroes. They are likens when we are at our best capable, resilient and resourceful - but, unlike us, never quite able to
achieve self-actualization andbe master of both themselves as people and
their role as a superhero. You'll note that all superheroes have the same
dilemma: how to resolve the conflict between their identities. Are they
heroes? Or are they normal people hiding a secret? In this sense,
superheroes never roach the fourth quarter of their hero's journey or learn
how to be master of their worlds. Because if they did, their stories would
essentially be over. Modern superheroes are forever locked in a revolving
time capsule because they're not meant to be real people but idealizations
of human impulses just like the gods of ancient G reece and Rome,

Superheroes embody the conflict between our ideals and our

humanity. It's actually impossible to reconcile the two things, which is
why superheroes are trapped in a never ending cycle of issues over who
they really are. Superman is forever trying to hide his true identity - a
remarkable feat seeing as it's obvious to us that he looks exactly the same
as Clark Kent, Batman too is continually having to reveal his true self to
some - and keep it from others. You'll have noticed that Spidey too,
regularly faces a similar impasse. But as Jonathan Nolan ingeniously
points out in The Dark Knight Rises, superheroes don't necessarily hide
their identity to protect their effectiveness, or to somehow enable their
power, they do it simply to protect the people they care about. So perhaps
that means, if we follow the logic, that we all in some sense need to hide our
true power to safeguard normal life and the wellbeing of our loved ones,
Because to stand up and be godlike in our judgment and mete out
punishment like a superhero are inappropriate actions for the average
person, even when we'd sometimes be eager to use that power,

The Writer as Superhero

There are two people inside of you: the writer and the person,
As writers, we push ourselves to create a better piece of work each

time we write a story. If we were made permanently aware of our past

mistakes, our failings, ours doubts, we would never get to change or move
towards mastery of our craft. Each acknowledgment we make to ourselves
that we are improving as writers is a signal we are developing as people,

The writer becomes a superhero every time he or she sits down to

write. We must excel ourselves with each new writing project, we must
fight off our demons and win in order to grow. Writing, in this sense, is
series of personal tests. Because to better ourselves andbecome successful,
we must become masters of defeating self-doubt and limiting beliefs (the
realbad guys,)
But just like superheroes, we might not always be able to reconcile 'the
person' with 'the writer1. But it's recognizing that there's a conflict that will
help youbecome a better writer and a better person, eventually, in the final
quarter of your own hero's journey. If, of course, you can ever get past your
demons - which some writers never do - even when they become
apparently successful writers,

The writer's quest is to find the superhero within and to be able to

live as a person with the power and responsibility that engenders. But just
like Spider-Man, his quest to find the hero inside of himself sometimes
leads him to the dark side - an all too familiar place for the writer on his or
her journey , There's only one thing worse than becoming familiar with the
dark side of our natures and writing about them and that is not being
able to write, The writer's ultimate horror therefore, is writer's block: the
symbolic death or stagnation of our talent. To me, writer's block is
emblematic of the death and rebirth associated with the beginning of the
third quarter of the hero's journey. Because it's only when we reject the idea
that writer's block is any kind of enemy that we begin to become a writer a
new person and leave behind the old self whobelieved writer's block was


It's hard to visualize writer's block without deferring to the

stereotypical view of it presented by Hollywood, The pulsing cursor on the

blank screen; the endless balls of scrunched up paper littering a writing

room; the head in hands; the pounding of frustrated fists on a tabletop. The
trouble with all these images is that they're based on a primary false
assumption: that writer's block actually exists in the first place,
To me, writer's block is a contradiction in terms, A writer, by
definition, is one who writes. Therefore a writer who is not writing is not a
writer, only a person who is not writing.; To labor the idea, writers don't get
blocked, only peopleget blocked. It's not the writer in you that's blocked, it's
the person inyou that wants to be a writer that is blocked,

I recently read about a phenomenon that affects intern microbiology

students. When asked to look down the lens of an electron microscope for
the first time, students often report they see nothing. The image is so far
out of their terms of reference that their brains don't recognize that
anything is there to see. The students need to be trained to know what to
expect before they're ready to acknowledge there's an image at the end of
the lens. The same is true for, famously, the South American indigenous
people when first confronted with Spanish galleons in the fifteenth
century. Because they had no way of reconciling reality and their
expectation of it, they literally could not see the ships. To their brains the
galleons simply didn't exist,

The opposite is true. When we're bombarded with an idea that

something is real, we start to see things that had no substance before we
knew what to expect, UFOs being the prime example. Before 1947, flying

saucers didn't exist but, by giving them a name and spurious rationale,
they became real - and now people see them everywhere. So it is with
writer's block, W e've been conditioned into accepting a phenomenon that
doesn't exist. And by holding on to the idea that you may suffer from it,
you're making the condition worse. As I say, for a writer, there's no such
thing as writer's block there's only wannabe writer's block

In 1961, American author Harper Lee received a Pulitzer Prize for her
first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. She's now eighty -seven and the world is
still waiting for her second novel indeed any piece of writing she might
want to show us. How is it possible for the author of one of the greatest
novels of the twentieth century to get blocked? After all, she said herself
she wrote the book because she was looking for encouragement,
presumably to continue a writing career. So what happened? As recently
as 2011, Lee is quoted as saying that she was so overwhelmed by the furor
over her book, she didn't want to experience any thing like it again and that,
besides, she'd written everything she wanted to say once, and simply
didn't want to repeat herself. But that's never stopped any self-respecting
author I've ever heard of! I think there was more going on, I think actually
the person who wanted to be a writer in her simply couldn't live up to her
own expectations, or those of the rest of the world.

We tend to set standards for ourselves that are way too high. All this
talk about perceiving yourself as a hero might be tempting you to do the
same. But that's not how heroism works. We don't need to be the best like
Harper Lee was continually told about herself we just need to be the best
that we can be. And that's a far more attainable and realistic goal,

In Stephen King we see a perfect example of a writer doing his best.

In 200 3 , King was awarded a lifetime achievement award and the
Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. While this event
may have gone largely unnoticed by the general public, the so-called
literary community was outraged. How could a paperback hack be
considered literary? The former CEO of Simon andSchuster slammed King's
work as 'non -literature1 and piled scorn on the NationalBookFoundation for
including King alongside Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel
Hawthorne, To me this is absurd. All writers have to find their footing in
the world and at some point that includes actually selling books that
people like. But here's what literary critic and Yale Professor, Harold Bloom,
had to say: 'The decision to give the National Book Foundation's annual
award for *distinguished contribution" to Stephen King is extraordinary,
another low in the shocking process of dumbing down our cultural life. I've
described King in the past as a writer of penny dreadfuls, but perhaps even
that is too kind. He shares nothing with Edgar Allan Poe. What he is is an
immensely inadequate writer on a sentence-by-sentence, paragraph by
paragraph, book-by-book basis. " Clearly, for all his pretentions, Bloom
knows nothing about writing or writers, Poe would have given his soul for
King's success, which he actually believed he deserved. In a hundred years
time I guarantee that King's work will be revered as classic literature. Even
today, you don't even have to like King to recognize that he has a unique
and compelling style that transcends the norm. There again, even
Shakespeare (who Bloom describes as 'the inventor of humanity') wasn't
considered overly literary in his time, for much the same reason as King:
he was very popular. To me, condemning an author for not boring the
pants of his readers is ridiculous in the extreme,

- -

I guess, to be frank, King doesn't have the advantage of being dead. In

much the same way as you can't make a person a saint while they're still
alive, then literary excellence seems to be reserved for those that can no
longer do something to disappoint the critics, Stephen King is one of those
writers lucky enough to have moved beyond hero to the stuff of living
legend. He is judged through the veil of the current media and our
cumulative expectations of what real genius looks like. But strip away the
hype and King is just a writer doing the best he can. He's a human being
with faults and previously, problems,

King's alcoholism is fairly common knowledge. He mentions it

himself in On Writing.; He said that he composed the Bachman books
during all night drinking sessions - and often couldn't remember writing
them. His career and his relationship with writing and publishers has
been far from stress-free. But in many ways, King's story is that of many
writers' journeys: the rise from obscurity to fame, with all the attendant
pressures that invariably involves. Harper Lee would surely have learned a
lot about dealing with the media and critics had she and King ever sat
down for a heart to heart,
Because becoming a successful author is not always the joyful road
one might imagine, especially when starting out,

Douglas Adams, author of the superb Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy

series was notoriously angst-ridden. Prone to depression and alcohol
problems from an early age, he struggled to establish himself as a writer
after leaving Cambridge University with a degree in English Literature, At
one point in his career, Adams' agent locked him in a hotel room with a Mac

and his editor, refusing to let them out until Adams had completed the
final draft of So Long, and Thanksfor All the Fish. But Adams had a great
attitude toward his own depression and fear of failure. He once said, '7 have
terrible periods of lack of confidence. 1briefly did therapy, but after a while1
realized it was like afarmer complaining about the weather. You can ftfix the
weather -you just have to get on with it," He died of a heart attack while
working out in May 2001 at the young age of forty-nine, arguably at the
peak of his career, certainly at a time when he'd made the transition into
the hero of his own life,

The Third Quarter Specifics

Let's now look at the specific elements the hero will undergo in the
third quarter of his journey. For simplicity's sake, these may be broken

down intofive main categories, or sections,

1. The majorpaint of change
2. The immediate re ward
3. The roadof trials
4. Self-discovery

5. The supreme challenge

Now let's look at each of these categories in turn,

The Majot Point of Change

At the midpoint of your story the hero is fully engaged on his inner

journey. Typically the third quarter involved a symbolic death - whether

that be emotional, spiritual or literal. Often the death is characterized by a
change in the hero's worldview. From this point on, he is a different person
from the one we met at the beginning of the first quarter. Usually the hero
has no control over the specific plot event the author has planted, however
dominance over the event is attained as a direct consequence of the hero's
own actions. The hero's commitment to a new reality then has, in effect,
caused the death of his old self. This metaphorical death is vitally
important in the hero's journey. Simply put, a hero cannot reach the fourth
quarter of his journey if he does not leave his old self behind,
In the case of Jesus, for example, the major point of change is, of
course, the crucifixion, where Christ's actions have led. him to a time in his
life when he will be changed forever. Not just personally but also in the way
he isperceivedb y o th e rs,
At this point of change there may well be some resistance from the
hero. There may be regret and even some incomprehension. But a
symbolic death is a necessary step if the hero is ever to emerge as altered

from his previous self,

But the hero is no martyr. He is often courageous to the point of

recklessness. Often he will confront the bad guys only to be captured. Or he
will pledge his love completely only to be rejected. In your own story, your
choice of symbolic death will be a personal preference - but the point is to
make it apparentlyfinal\
As we all know, the truly heroic gesture is selfless, for the good of

others, sometimes seemingly futile but something that will ultimately be

recognized as heroic - and a total rejection of the values the hero held at the
beginning of the story,

The Immediate Reward

Of course, the most obvious immediate reward is not actually being
dead but having survived a near-death experience. But if the hero has not
been killed by his sacrifice, then what happens next?
In the classical model of the hero's journey this is often the moment at
which the hero has a meeting with The Goddess archetype. Symbolically,
he has died and gone to heaven if you will. He is presented with a vision or
person that recognizes and represents the validation of his goals, despite
his untimely 'death,' In the classical model, this is also regarded as a time of
'atonement' - a fancy word you might need to look up but which basically
means at one-ment', where the hero receives positive feedback and
validation for his stance at this major point of change and is 'at one' with
those who approve of his actions,
In a modern story it might be the time when the hero awakes in

hospital to find his newfound lover at his side. Or the period when his
parents or friends forgive the error of his ways. For the superhero it might
be the moment when the public recognizes the value of having a costumed
avenger to protectthem,
In as much as the 'meeting with the goddess' is a symbol for uniting
the hero with his maternal or feminine mentor figure, so too is there a
metaphorical reunification with the father at this point. At its most basic
Level, the father figure (whomever that may be in your story) approves of
his son's action, thereby further adding endorsement to the hero's journey
in the form of paternal appreciation,

The Hoad of Trials

Let's not forget that, at this point, the hero's journey is far from over,

Although the hero has rejected his past life and received just rewards, he
has yet to face his ultimate test. He still has major challenges ahead. In
your story this will take the form of further plot development, character
complications and more conflict and more obstacles - whatever appeals to
you as a storyteller,
Typically, the third quarter is a time of mounting tension. In a thriller
it would be the time when the hero is moving ever closer to the bad. guy, or
further entering the web of intrigue surrounding a conspiracy or heinous
plot. In a romance it will be the time when the characters are locked in
some seemingly irresolvable conflict, where their loyalties and lusts are

tested to the extreme. Even in a children's book it may be represented by

the fluffy bunny being placed in jeopardy, or a child partaking in an
adventure far from home,
It's your call,

Whatever happens in your story, at this point in the third quarter,
your hero should be experiencing some confidence in his new identity. He
is so fulfilled in a practical sense that returning to his past life is
unthinkable, even ludicrous. The hero is mastering his inner journey and
showing the world he has become a more courageous and admirable
human being,
He may be tempted by the sidekick, the lover or the mentor figure to at
least reconsider his old self. But the hero will laugh and refuse to
countenance the possibility that, after his symbolic death and rebirth, he

would go b a c k wa rds rath e r th a n f orwa rd,

You see these motifs played out most commonly in movies that
follow the hero's journey format. Think Bruce Willis or Tom Cruise films or
Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) movies. At the three-quarter point these
heroes are confident, almost playful, in their new roles as the smart, selfcontained hero. When I watch these kinds of movies, I'm often struck by
just how rigidly the hero's journey is adhered to. My guess is this is partly

deliberate on the part of the writers and producers, but a iso a decision
made by actors, who perhaps subconsciously recognize that the hero's
journey shows off a character in his or her most interesting iight. Think
about it. As I say, in a hero's journey story, oniy the protagonist grows and
changes the other characters remain static. So what better roie to piay
than the actor with the most profound story to teii? In a hero's journey, the
actor is stretched from normai to tested to a symbolic death and rebirth
and finally the supreme challenge to become a fully rounded character,
Not only is this story going to please audiences, it's going to make the star
look like a total hero what self-respecting actor wouldn't want to play that

In legend, the hero is more often than not defeating all manner of foes
in the third quarter - dark knights, warriors, sea lizards, dragons and other
mythical monsters - but he is yet to fight his ultimate nemesis (often a
personification of his own inner demon) in the final quarter,

The Supreme Challenge

The nine o'clock point in the story - or the end of the third quarter represents the threshold of the supreme challenge that the hero must face
to fully realize his potential. In the final quarter of the hero's journey your
lead character must, through the changes he's about to experience, be a
more complete personality. When that's happened he will have reconciled
his inner conflicts and absorbed the lessons in your plot to become a
characterthat has grown and changed.

Whoa - I'm getting ahead of myself here,

All this is explained properly in the next lesson - in the final quarter of
the hero's journey,

Hero1$ Journey in The Tarot

The next stage of the hero's journey is eerily mirrored in the next five
cards of the Major Arcana, which are Justice, The Hanged Man,, Death,
Temperance, and TheDevil
In many people's minds the above cards are seen as the most
significant of the Tarot, and the ones most widely used in fiction as
portents of doom. You've seen it a million times I'm sure. The old. gypsy in a
tent or caravan is facing the protagonist. Creepy music plays in the
background. The strangely-clad gypsy goes into a trance and overturns the
next card in the Tarot pack. Nine times out of ten it's Death, The music
swells as the hero and the gypsy gasp. To make matters worse, the gypsy
clams up and won't say anything. The protagonist then leaves, feeling the
weight of impending calamity on his or her shoulders,
A well-worn cliche, sure, but what most people don't know is that the
Death card is most times not about predicting he imminent demise of
someone, least of all the Tarot querent.

W e need to see the Death card in the context of the hero's journey,

W e've seen that the first five cards represent the hero/ fool in the first
quarter of his journey. He's at home, equipped with his worldview, seeing
life through his normal value system. In the second, quarter the cards
symbolize the hero coming to grips with new information and different
perspectives, W e see him moving out of his comfort zone and progressing,
facing up to the challenge of personal growth. In the third quarter the hero
- or The Fool - is faced, with more fundamental tests, things that will
actually undermine everything he believes. These are symbolized by the
cards eleven to fifteen, titled as above,

There's some debate in the Tarot world whether this card should be
where it is. In some commentator's minds, the Strength card and theJustice
card have been arbitrarily swapped in the more modern editions of the
pack. To my mind the journey of the Arcana is not compromised nor
undermined by the relative position of these cards,

The Justice card, in the view of Rachel Pollack, the foremost living
authority on the Tarot, says it represents the equilibrium between action
and understanding a kind of mental sense of balance. To me, justice is
about evaluating one's new perspective as we move into the third quarter,
From here., the midway point of the clock-face, we can look at our past with
equal insight as our potential future. Our lives are literally in the balance,
In a sense we are free at this point, perfectly held in a kind of harmonized
tension, A point from which free-will begins for the first time in our lives,

The choice to move back or forward is now ours, independent of external

influences. We have control over our lives but which way do we go?

The Hanged Man

Contrary to what the image may suggest to you, the figure in The
HangedMan card is not undergoing any kind of torture or punishment. No,
he has chosen to be suspended upside down. Because from this position
TheFool can see the entire world from a new perspective. His leg is crossed
because he's relaxed and contemplative, he's using his insight to evaluate
what he sees from the point of view of the person he has become, and
finally appreciate the newfound free-will he realizes he now possesses,
Unlike a period of reflection, where the body is often inert, The HangedMan
has chosen a position whereby he is all too conscious of his physical
presence in an unfamiliar world. The decisions he makes from this new
perspective will literally turn his world on its head,

The Death card now makes more sense in context. After considering
all the options: life as it now appears through the Justice card and then
upside down as The HangedMan, the hero knows his journey requires him
to shed off his former self and embrace his future. Death symbolizes the
destruction of the old personality along with its value system. In most

instances, the Tarot Death card merely represents a dramatic change in a

person or a profound alteration to their circumstances, which could be
interpreted as a. literal death. However, life is cyclical. Death implies,
indeed, requires the circle of life to continue. Rebirth is not just a fact of
nature, it is a requirement of the individual as we move through the various
stages in our lives. Childhood dies when we enter adolescence, our teen self
dies when we enter adulthood. We die a thousand times as we gain more
wisdom and become more mature. This is what the Tarot teaches us something that, okay, we probably already knew on some level but
perhaps never appreciated for its wonder or significance,

When faced with rebirth and the myriad possibilities open to us, it's
all too easy to go crazy. It's like making it as a rock-star and then getting
into partying hard and taking drugs because you feel you have to live the
lifestyle. It's like being so overwhelmed by writing success, you lose your
focus on why you wanted to write in the first place. Notunlike Harper Lee,
The Temperance card is immediately after the symbol for massive change
for a very good reason. It's there as a warning: take it easy, be sensible, be
moderate in your response to your new surroundings. In essence, be

Since the 1930s, when prohibition advocates hijacked the word

temperance, it's had an association with abstinence. But the true meaning
is more subtle. To temper is to blend or to mix correctly. In the 14th-

century the word was used to mean 'to make adjustments' until the
element (metal, wood or rock etc,,) was perfectly balanced. Even before, the
word signified keeping good time in music or tuning an instrument to the
right pitch. All of these earlier meanings are relevant to the ideas behind
the Temperance card. The important element being that 'tempering' is a
conscious blending of things, attitudes and value judgments in order to
create a more rounded and satisfying whole,

The Devil

Again, The Devil card has become an unwarranted symbol of evil

because of its apparently Satanic overtones. But the card is really just a
reminder that we are human, and often slave to the temptations of the
flesh and other habits that do not serve us well. In most versions of the
Tarot, the man and woman tethered to The Devil are clearly there out of
choice. In much the same way as drug addicts have made a conscious
decision to tie themselves to a drug, or the lifestyle, we too become attached
to all sorts of addictions, opinions and prejudices. The Devil reminds us
that given free-will, we may be tempted to stray and make bad choices but
that at any time, we are free to walk away and make different decisions,
The Tarot wants to remind us at all times that we are free. The idea
that we a re buffeted by our environment, faith in artificial human edifices
or indeed, the people around us, is a self-imposed and self-sustaining
illusion. We are always free to do exactly as we please as long as we're
prepared to endure the consequences of our decisions which most of us

simply aren't.
The hero, however, is always willing to see where his decisions may
lead him,
To sum up the hero's journey in the Tarot so far, we can say that,
armed with a now superior knowledge of the nature of life and its tests, we
may face resistance to personal growth and change in the form of new
perspectives, the need to destroy the past, to exercise self-control and repel
temptation. It's easy for most of us to be seduced by the bad choices these
cards represent because these debilitating options are designed by the
universe to undermine our resolve, and arrest our development. To truly
change we need to stand up to 'the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune'
and literally metamorphose through a symbolic death and rebirth to
acquire the resulting alteration to our consciousness,

And from there, the world becomes our oyster,

My Story Continued
See if you can spot the heroic* steps in the third quarter in my own

In August 2003, The Beast and I had a major bust-up over my writing
career. It started when she wanted to see evidence of the money I was
making: royalties from the sales of my e-book, The Easy Way to Write a

Novel Though she expressed surprise that I made enough money per
month to cover the mortgage, an argument ensued over whether I should
continue to devote my time to such foolishness. This was a row that begun
during the first week of our relationship and continued in different
incarnations over the entire time we were together. Eventually I threw up
my hands in disgust and announced I was leaving. As a self-respecting
author, how could I stay? I loaded up my Toyota with books and my
computer gear and drove away from my old life, into a cheap motel by the
beach in Gawler, South Australia, I spent a week running my website and
subscriber base from an Internet cafe,

The immediate benefit was a wonderful sense of freedom. I'm

ashamed to say I never felt any pangs of guilt or sorrow at leaving The
Beast The longer I spent away from her, the more I realized just how
horrible she was,
I stayed with a friend for a while, just to tide me over while I got my
bearings, I also started publishing other writers' books. Coincidentally, my
flatmate was a graphic artist who I talked into designing book covers. Life
went well for a while until my car was stolen and left abandoned, I realized
then that I should get my own place with a private parking space, which I

When I first moved into my new flat, which I christened The Cave
because so little light got in, I was earning very little money from my ebook
or my publishing venture. Certainly not enough to grow my business,
Through the grapevine I heard about a government- run scheme that
taught self-employed people how to put together a business plan and I

thought that might be useful to me. Despite the application period having
come and gone, I applied in person, and miraculously, was accepted forthe
next twelve-week session. Only then did I find out there was a strict
condition of entry: I had to have no form of income,
To get around this problem, I transferred ownership of my publishing
company on a temporary basis to my former flatmate and signed the
documents for the government scheme, which I began attending. They
even started sending me checks to help fund my business. For a brief
moment, life was looking sweet.

Then, things went rapidly downhill,

Now, if you watch JudgeJudy you'll know that you should never trust
other people with your money. Especially not friends,

My former flatmate decided that, seeing as she had control of my

company, she should be making money out of it. She began blasting my
subscriber list, demanding cash and orders for imaginary products. Many
people complained to me but some sent money based on her scams,
However, my former flatmate realized that her evil plan wasn't working
because the money was not going into the company account, which
technically she controlled, but into mine. She came round one night and
demanded I hand over the money she'd 'earned',
We had a big fight, during which she threw my food all around The
Cave, screamed at me and made lots of threats, I remained adamant I
would be returning the money she'd conned out of my customers. She left

in a blind fury,
Next day she called tax office, the Better Business Bureau, the police,
local government and the media to inform them I was engaged in fraud
and all kinds of other nefarious activities. People always accuse you of their
own faults, have you noticed that?

Long story short, the Crown Prosecution Service pulled my bank

records. Sure enough, they decided, I was receiving money while
technically 'unemployed'. They weren't concerned about the money I'd
sent back to my clients, only the royalties that I was still receiving on my
ebooks, I tried to explain that royalties are always paid late for books sold
but as far as they were concerned I was guilty of not declaring current
income. They stopped my government grant summarily and froze my
bank accounts,

Suddenly, I had nothing to live on, I had no choice but to stop paying
my rent and I couldn't even afford food, Nice country, I thought. Great way
to treat someone wh o' d recently changed his nationality to Australian and
was trying to build a business that would benefit the community,
But just like it's supposed to at these times, everything got worse,

The CPS sent me a summons to appear in court for fraud, I was kicked
off the government scheme. My ex-partner left town without telling me
where she was going, taking my Toyota and my property with her, I
couldn't use any of my bank accounts and all my cards were maxed out. Oh
yeah, and the landlady said I had to leave The Cave if I didn't immediately

pay the back rent.

I broke down and cried, I wailed at the walls, at God, bemoaning the
fact I'd messed up,
I was a failure,

All I'd ever wanted was to be a creative artist and get paid for that.
Such a simple dream. So easy, so doable. And yet here I was, poor again. I'd
lost everything: my house, my car, my partner, my income - again. And
now I was in trouble with the law. Failure was becoming a recurrent theme,
It's like I had the puzzle book but I couldn't join the dots. I'd get so close to
making it but then, it seemed, I always ended up broke and alone and with
nothing to show for anything,

Why was the world so unfair? Why didn't the system support artists?
What was wrong with me?

Why couldn't I just do the right thing and settle down?

Why did I always mess things up?
Why, I raged, why couldnt1make anything work?

Exexcises 3

Hie Tarot Third Quarter

As we've seen, the path of the Tarot's Major Arcana bears an uncanny

resemblance to the hero's journey in fiction. Is this deliberate or merely a

coincidence? To my mind the similarities come about because the hero's
journey and the Tarot are symbolic of a universal condition. Namely,
being human.

As a species, we've been on this planet a long time, W e've been trying
to make sense of ourselves and everything around us for at least two

hundred thousand years by most accounts, and in that time we've studied
our minds, our behaviors and nature and the myriad subtle interactions
between them. The Tarot is not some newfangled system, it is based on the
collective consciousness of billions upon billions of lives before us and
around us. No wonder, then, the Tarot sometimes appears to have
predictive qualities. To my mind, this particular aspect of the Tarot is
largely an illusion. What the Tarot really does is give us possible outcomes
based on empirical data,
The Tarot is predictive in the sense that, given certain conditions and
elements of your personality, a likely result will transpire. It's not
predicting the future per se so much as showing you potential futures
based on present and past assumptions, established on the idea that the

Tarot is a culmination of the multitude of character facets it's possible for

us to have as people,

The Chinese divination tool, the I Ching, or TheBook of Changest works

in much the same way. When we askfor guidance, we are presented with a
hexagram and its meaning that we may interpret any way we like. And
because we're human, we tend to choose the details we regard as
significant. Sure enough, those elements often then become more
significant later on and. manifest as outcomes we 'predicted' would come to


The Tarot presents us with pictures that resonate with us but it's we
who attach meaning to them and later, certain meanings may gain extra
resonance because we, perhaps sometimes subconsciously, fixated on the
outcome that would mean the most to us. It's actually a self-fulfilling
prophecy. There's no real magic involved.
That is, unless you regard being human as magical, which I think it
probably is l

The Tarot then, especially the Major Arcana, shows us a mythical

map of how we interact with ourselves and the world. It's not whimsical or
arbitrary but based on evidence accumulated over millennia,

So, when you study and absorb the next five cards in our journey
Justice, The Hanged Man, Deathf Temperance and The Devil try to see past
the pictures and look to their deeper meanings. Remember that the images
are archetypes, which Carl Jung believed represented not just human

'types' but perhaps fundamental principles at work within the universe,

Time fot Self-Assessment

Where are you now on your own hero's journey? Have you achieved
some aim that has changed your perspective? It could be something small
Perhaps you wrote a short story that made you feel good because you'd
finished it. Did that event change you in some way? Did. it make you realize
you're not exactly the same person you were before you wrote it? If so, this
is the hero's journey in action. Don't underestimate its power or
In my time as a writing mentor I've seen writers gain confidence in
their writing that has immediately manifested as an improved sense of
self-worth. This is good, a positive outcome. One of the reasons I loathe the
publishing industry is that the whole edifice is set up to reject authors and
their writing. It's not coincidental to me that the word used for a publisher
passing on material is rejection, This one word alone has the power to
undermine confidence and self-esteem in spades. I'm so pleased that
writers can now circumvent the publishing industry and self- publish
through Amazon and other outlets online. It's the breakthrough that we
writers have been waiting for since the beginning of writing: to be able to
disseminate our work without censure, even without spurious validation,
And certainly without the threat of rejection: a slap in the face that
represents a negation of our ideas, our talents, our confidence and our


These days, writers need no longer fear arbitrary dismissal of their

writing and the publishing industry's ability to stifle creativity. For the
first time in history, all writers can now, if they so choose, be selfsufficient, independent and empowered
Which has to be a good thing,

Take a look at your writing career. Whether it has just started or

you've published several works already matters not. Try to identify where
you are on your hero's journey. In which quarter are you currently
residing? Dwell on this a moment. Remember that growth as a human and
an artist is not just about completing one cycle. There's a never ending
circle of journeys awaiting us. Once you've returned to the twelve o'clock
point of our metaphorical clock-face, you're ready for another adventure,
another project. One that will test you more than before and help you
improve and grow with each passing hour,

The trick is to set yourself goals and once achieved, set bigger ones,
Keeping pushing the boundaries of what you believe is possible and keep
pushing. And of course, keep writing]

Help With the Third Quarter

To recap, here's the template you should be using for the third quarter
of your hero's journey story:

L The majorpom t of change

Your hero has had. some kind of success. He's had to Lose something to
do it, but it's taken him further down the road towards his ultimate goal
Any sorrow felt at the sacrifice he's made to achieve victory is negated by
his sense of triumph.

2. The immediate reward

Your hero may experience the spoils of war for a while , or at least feel
some sense of contentment. It may be time to reconnect with former
friends or mentors, to take stock of his newfound situation and mindset.
But this is short-lived,

The roadof trials

Things get worse around this point. Your hero may face many trials a whole slew of them that he would have been incapable of dealing with as
his former self. But your hero is full of confidence in his abilities. He's
4.. Seif discovery

As your plot cascades towards its climax, your hero knows that
there's one more test - the supreme one - that he may have been avoiding
up to this point. But he knows he must face this ultimate challenge because
it's the one that deals most pertinently with his inner journey ,

5. The supreme challenge

It's finally here. In your story, Imagine that the impending 'battle' is
imminent. Everyone and everything is advancing into their starting

positions, ready for the final showdown. The crowd hushes, the
atmosphere is tense, the anticipation is almost palpable

Module Four: Master of Worlds

''Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceedsfrom the

achievement of ones values.
Ayn Rand

Welcome to the final module of this course, I hope it's been as

enlightening for yon as It has been fun for me. The writing of this resource
has been a journey In itself. The pulling together of the hero's journey in
fiction, the pictorial representation of it in the Tarot and the relevance of
this journey to writers myself and others is a project that I've for a long
time dreamed of completing. And now that the end of this project is in
sight, I'm feeling an up-rush of excitement - just as all this theory predicts!

This module we look at perhaps the least visited topic in writing

instruction. That is, the ending of a story. This apparent lack of focus on
perhaps the most crucial part of a story has come about for many reasons,
It's probably assumed by most writing teachers that the ending, given all
the preamble, will be fairly obvious. That the end is perhaps inevitable,
However, a good story should contain an element of surprise as well as

Many new writers don't feel they need specific tuition on the ending
of their stories because, well, they rarely get that far. And even when they

do, they may be reluctant to make it a happy event for their heroes. This is
a mistake, because it's a positive outcome that, after experiencing all the
trials and life-threatening adventures of the hero, the reader needs, expects
and deserves. Besides which, who wants to see a hero fail? As humans we
need to experience a positive outcome after struggle, hope for the future,
and occasionally some promise of more adventures to come,

The Template
During the final quarter of the hero's journey, there are six main
elements or scenes you will need to deal with in turn:
1. The supreme test
The nine o'clock point of your story should be punctuated by a
thrilling or compelling climax to the hero's adventure that deals with the
hero's outer journey and his inner journey, fulfilling the objectives of both
2, The momen t of victory

May be symbolized by freedom, a rescue or a change in

consciousness. At this point it is important we see the hero has grown and
changed through a short series of positive and negative switches in

3. The return to normality

When the danger has finally passed, the hero is allowed to celebrate
and be honored for his achievement. He will often receive gifts, praise and
perhaps 'get the girl'. All this will showthat he is now the antithesis of his
previous self

4. Realignment

Commonly called 'the wrap up' in TV parlance. This is where the loose
threads in the plot are tied up. It is also the point at which the hero is seen
as fully integrated into his new family, friends or environment.
5. The top note
A music term - but in story terms a little ray of light, perhaps a birth

or marriage, ox some suggestion the hero may face another adventure

soon. In downbeat stories or a series episode, also the point at which a new
threat may emerge.
6\ Theend?

If all this sounds rather formulaic, there's an opportunity within this

quarter for the seasoned author to play with the reader's expectations by
providing alternate scenarios to the above dot-points. Often this will be
seen as 'the twist', usually a surprise factored into the plot-line that seems
to appear from nowhere but is actually just a different take on getting to the
same endpoint. Whatever ending you choose at this juncture, your story

should have a definite close and not be left cavalierly open-ended,

The Supreme Test

The fourth quarter begins with the hero's ultimate test. It is a time
when the hero has truly proven his worth and more than literally 'found
his true self It is this element of the journey that defines the final quarter,
where the hero is now returning from the threshold of his adventures. He
has dealt with his enemies and personal demons, reconciled his inner
journey and is now ascending from the depths - and coming home,
There are many ultimate tests in fiction. The most obvious is the
closing of a case in crime stories where the perpetrator of a mysterious
murder is tracked down and apprehended. The final test usually involves a
physical confrontation between the hero and the criminal. But just finding
the guy and proving his guilt is rarely enough. In film terms, this point in
the story is usually characterized as the three times YES/NO scenario,
For instance, you may have the hero discover the whereabouts of the
killer. That's a YES, The hero rushes to go get the bad guy and finds that
he's gone, leaving a dead body in his wake. That's a NO, Next, the hero
glimpses the killer and gives chase. The hero catches up with him and pins
him to the floor. That's a YES, Only to discover the killer's got a bomb
strapped to him. That a NO, Finally the hero, after a fight, pushes the killer
off the dock and the bad guy explodes in the water. That's a definite YES,

You see this YES/NO scenario played out in movies all the time,
especially if you're aware of them. It's a way of making the final test
appreciably difficult for the hero,

Now, if the author of the above scenario has already factored in that
the hero must not only track down the killer (the outer journey) and deal
with his fear of confrontation with evil (his inner journey), you can see
that both journeys have been satisfactorily dealt with simultaneously
during the supreme test.

The thinking behind the above example is transferable to any

mainstream genre,
In a romance, for example, the supreme test may come about in the
following way. After much back and forth the heroine decides she must
say sorry to herboyfriend and make up. That's a YES, She gets in a taxi and
rushes to find her man. She discovers him getting married to someone else,
That would be a NO, She interrupts the marriage service and announces
her love. The guy turns to smile at her. That's a YES, While the guy tries to
get to her, the bride-to-be announces she's pregnant. Oh-oh, a NO. But then
another young man in the church stands up and says the baby is his and
he wants to marry the bride. Big YES,
I'm sure you can think of your own examples as to how this supreme
test might play out in your own particular genre,

The Elixir
In the classical model, the homecoming after the supreme test is often
shown metaphorically as an elixir - usually a magic drink the hero has
acquired that can bestow health or immortality. The elixir may bring back
parents, lovers or friends from the dead - or create wealth and happiness
for the hero's hometown or country. In past times the elixir was a potent
symbol of his journey and a concrete reminder of his success. While this
particular physical motif may have gotten lost along the way, it exists in a
metaphorical sense in modern works as more nebulous terms like
'happiness', 'growth', 'power', 'satisfaction' and 'elation.' The elixir then is
merely a symbol of the sense of triumph experienced by the hero,
You may remember that at the end of Homer's Q(fy$seyt the hero
comes back from his adventures only to find that his wife is now
entertaining all his enemies at their home. Here we see an exact rendition
of the supreme test and its aftermath, Homer has already established that
Odysseus rocks. His deeds are legendary by the time he returns home. And
yet, at the nine o'clock point of his journey, his own home is nothing he
recognizes. Even his wife is being pursued by another warrior. Suffice it to
say that with a combination of skill and subterfuge, Odysseus manages to
kill all his enemies - including his wife's potential suitor with almost
superhuman ease and panache. So that, at the end of the story, Odysseus'
prowess as a warrior has in effect become godlike - and his newfound
power and his wife's renewed devotion are essentially his 'reward' for
ha ving undertaken the supreme test in his hero's journey,

The Magic Flight

In some classical stories too, the hero's success is characterized by
some kind of "Magical Journey" that returns him home - a magic carpet
that removes him from the enchanted land being the most obvious
example. In literary terms this remains to this day in the form of a 'fast
forward' through time to the homecoming ending,

The fast forward is necessary in story terms for many reasons,

Imagine how much more tedious Lordof the Rings would be if the audience
had to endure the entire journey back to the Shire after the ring has been
destroyed! The fast forward to the wrap up is such an accepted convention
these days that we barely register it. Think of all those TV shows where the
slow pan out of the final confrontation is immediately followed by the 'at
home' scene. We don't question it ever. Not these days, because we're
expecting it. In previous times, though, to less educated audiences, the
magic flight was necessary to explain the missing time,

These days we need no irrelevant information as to how the hero gets

back home. It's redundant, superfluous because, basically, we know that
when the hero's journey is over, the story is over too, so of course we'll go
back home without delay,

The Rescue
The hero's quest is often finalized in the form of a rescue. It may that

of a friend or Lover, often a child or sibling, but it is also symbolically a

rescue of the hero himself Ey being able to ensure the freedom of others as an example think of the hero freeing the villagers from the terror of the
dragon at the end of Beowulf - the hero shows that he too is 'a free man',
capable, strong and independent. Of course in Beowu/f the hero dies after
his struggle. Interestingly it was the fashion up to around the nineteeneighties for heroes to die after they'd metaphorically saved the world. It
was considered heroic in a way that we now find inappropriate in more
modern fiction. There could be commercial considerations at work, of
course. As long ago as 1893, Sir Arthur Conan Doy le discovered that killing
off Sherlock Holmes was not only upsetting to his fans but ultimately an
exercise in futility. Despite resistance and vows never to return to the
character for eight years, Doyle was forced to resurrect Holmes, thereby
setting the stage for every hero's miraculous return from the dead since,
despite the practice actually being as old as literature itself!
There is a tradition in certain genres, particularly fantasy, that the
hero should die at the end of the tale. In essence, this means that the hero
has completed his journey but, because there is no more for him to learn,
it's okay to kill him off,
It may also be a useful way of making the hero seem all the more
heroic by showing that he will give his life to defend a notion or some
particular person or group of individuals, Shakespeare, of course, was a big
fan of killing off his heroes and dramatically it can be very powerful,
especially when the point is to remind an audience that particular
personality traits are wrong or hazardous to your health,

As a general rule I would advise against killing off your heroes

nowadays. For one, you may have to bring your hero back for another
story! But mainly because, in order to fully realize the impact of a hero's
journey, you should show the character returning home, alive and well

and changed so that the difference in him is more clearly shown. The
ultimate purpose of the modern hero's journey is to show that the world
has become a better place after the hero's ordeal. Not only has the hero
grown and changed, but he has in some way changed the world. The hero's
newfound freedom therefore is a metaphor for the freedom experienced by
the rest of us a result of the hero's sacrifice and triumph over death,
The idea that personal liberty is achieved through the freeing of
others is a we11- dev eloped mythology in its own right. It's still a common
motif in superhero stories for instance. Most spy stories too,James Bondvsx
particular, have this central idea around which plots revolve,

A Breakthrough

We may also see climactic events in the form of a 'breakthrough' or

new understanding - a new wisdom perhaps,

Think of The Da Vinci Code, where Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu
(literally 'new wisdom') find their way to the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland at
the end of the novel. Here, they not only discover the last pieces of the Da
Vinci puzzle, but their issues about burial place of the Magdalene and the
strange cult that Sophie's father was part of are finally resolved. The

novel's central theme, that the Catholic Church has conspired to hide the
'fact' that Jesus had a child, are also confirmed at this point in the story,
In Jurassic Park the end comes when the last of the dinosaurs is
destroyed captured visually by director Spielberg when the 'Welcome'
banner falls to the ground as the T -Rex roars. This is the point at which the
dangers of messing with DNA technology are symbolically quashed and a
new future is revealed that does not include dinosaurs again roaming the


The breakthrough in Lord of the Rings, in this case the world being
released from the tyranny of dark forces, is attained when G ollum bites the
ring from Frodo's finger just before the little tyke falls into the Crack of
Doom, thereby destroying the ring,
In all of these cases, and others too numerous to mention, the
breakthrough in the story is also a metaphor for the hero 'breaking
through' into a new kind of consciousness. In other words, the hero's
journey is only complete at the point of breakthrough. There is no growth
and change without a final significant resolution, whereby the dark is
consumed, by the light, or good defeats evil or old ideas are replaced by new

The most obvious reason for growing and. changing is to reach

enlightenment - whereby the hero has achieved a state of being that is

totally different from the way he started out, He is now two people in one the person he was at the beginning of the journey AND the person he has
become. He has learned how to incorporate new information, killbadguys
and become a symbol for humanity's innate ability to overcome obstacles
and triumph,
I recently read The Quantum Brainby psychologist and author Jeffrey
Satinover, in which he bemoans having psychiatric patients whose aim is
to replace destructive patterns with new ones. Or to somehow have bad
memories erased in favor of more pleasant experiences, Satinover says he
has to go to great lengths sometimes to remind his patients that's not the
way the mind works. Any new modus operandi can only overlay or sit on
top of previous memories and mental patterns. There's no replacing
involved, just a realignment of the mind based on new - and better -


This struck me as a perfect analogy for the hero's journey. The

character at the end of the journey is not a completely different person but
in effect, two: he's the one at the beginning of the tale as well as being the
one that has completed his quest. The second, wiser personality literally
overlays and enriches the older, more naive, but perfectly acceptable,
personality of the hero,
To Joseph Campbell and others, this is most often expressed as:

The Master of Two Worlds

True heroes deliberately move away from normal life, recognize and
confront their goals, overcome obstacies to their agendas and fulfill their
innate promise. By defeating the bad guys and/or quashing threats to
peace and security in the outer world, the hero has shown that he has
mastered himself in the form of confronting his 'inner' world, and
winning. The hero has also returned to the 'outer' world, back to the twelve
o'clock point, as a success. He has therefore succeeded in both worlds and it
is this apparent duality that makes the hero, for the purposes of your story,

genuinely heroic,
In symbolic terms, in the Tarot for instance, the hero has gained
wisdom, power and strength and literally inherits the world in the
process. Therefore he is recognized as a hero and everyone is happy,
impressed and pleased with his new status,

It's important to remember that in fiction, without adulation and

respect, there's no defining heroism. Silent and unrecognized heroism is

martyrdom, a different kind of nobility that, while laudable, doesn't quite
fit the hero's journey model,
This is one of the reasons why endings that are not 'happy' defy
literary logic - and the expectations of the reader. If all of the hero's
adventures do not achieve much more than a dead stop then the ending
will most times be disappointing - the reader will often not 'see the point'
and most likely feel cheated by the downbeat conclusion,

Because a truly evolved human being is one that is recognized as

such. Bravery that is not accepted by onlookers has no currency because
the hero is a role model, an archetype, literally an inspiration to others, a
kind of demigod. Therefore dealing with a hero's inner journey is only half
of the equation. The hero must be seen to have publicly defeated the outer
threat in order to be fully acknowledged as the master of two worlds: his
old world that is, everyone's else's and the new, his new vision for the
rest of us to emulate,

You see, the reason why heroes are respected is that they dare to go
into dark and dangerous places and seek knowledge and understanding
while the rest of us are just getting on with our lives. We need pioneers,
investigators, scientists, explorers and adventurers to do the dirty work for
us, to widen our horizons while we sit at home so that we can eventually
benefit from the wisdom the hero gifts to us through his actions. In this
sense heroes are not meant to be real as in 'normal'. They are symbols of
hope and the fortitude of the human spirit,

But while in c la ss ic a I literature th e h ero is ea s ily identifiabie a s th e b ig

muscle-bound guy who kills monsters, the more modern hero can be
heroic in a much more down-to-earth sense, A man fighting for justice ora
woman defending herself against a brutal partner are just as heroic to the
modern mind. This is why, with just a little work, a person with a fear of
heights overcoming that affliction to rescue a child can seem as heroic as
smiting a dragon if not more so. It all depends on the hero's starting point,
Hence the way that, these days, we see writers begin a story with a
complete loser and often an orphan because, relative to that initial
position, the only way is up. This scenario has a further advantage, W e are

more likely to identify with a 'loser' than with the guy who looks like
Schwarzenegger when we're first introduced to him. In modern stories we
want to see normal people becoming heroes because we want to think that,.
given the same circumstances, we too might leave behind our fears,
phobias and insecurities, rise to the challenge and become metaphorical
masters of our own destinies,

In modern stories, the elixir and magic flight have been replaced by
far more down-to-earth elements, A celebration, like a party or a relaxed get
together are the most obvious examples. Often some sort of award
ceremony takes place or someone makes a congratulatory speech or a
performance is given for or by the hero. The stage becomes the metaphor
for pub lie adulation in other words,
A marriage is an all too familiar device to denote a homecoming, a
return to safety and the beginning of a new life - the ultimate 'they lived
happily ever after' if you like,

These endings work on two levels. One is the automatic warm glow
that humans experience when shown images of celebration and serenity,
that work best when we know the people involved. The other is the sense of
acceptance th at these events imply. The hero has truly been integrated into
his family, friends, community, and is finally at one with his
environment. Remember, 'at one' ment. Atonement means redemption or

having paid one's dues. The hero has earned his place in society whereas
before he was perhaps an outsider, insecure and did not feel worthy of
respect Duringthe final celebration of his acceptance, the hero has aligned
himself with humanity and received the appropriate gifts and rewards for
completing the hero's journey,

In a sense, the hero's journey is also about defining the identity of the
writer. When the reader experiences the writer's ending., the reader fully
understands what the writer regards as heroic and what the writer thinks
of as a satisfactory ending. People read stories because they want to the
entertained, informed and lose themselves for a while. But a satisfactory
hero's journey is more than that. It is a chance for the reader to fully merge
with a writer's value system, and be forced to agree with the author's take
on life, heroism, ethics and morality, A good story connects the reader with
the writer at this final point in the hero's journey, because the writer has
fully 'opened-up' to the reader and shown his hand his take on reality,

We all have our own ideas about what a good life is, how a good
person behaves and what is a worthwhile way to spend our time. The
writer must ensure that values like decency, honor, and compassion are

eventually - part of the hero's makeup. Though tested by sometimes

extreme conditions, the hero must return to stability, happiness, and a
sense of purpose if he is to be believable and in any way admirable. It's up
to the writer, during the final quarter especially, to show what he considers

to be positive life-enhancing values and purposeful, fulfilling and

meaningful activities,
Okay, It could be that the hero is not fully integrated into his family
and environment, as is the case with many 'serial' heroes like Sherlock
Holmes, James Bond, Jason Bournef Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, or Sue
Grafton's Kinsey Millhone. But there's a reason for this, one that I touch on
in the third module. Serial heroes need to be around for another story, so
they can't fully deal with their issues, otherwise their dramas would, be
over. Serial heroes tend to be two-dimensional in this sense because if they
ever fully completed their journey, their usefulness as a hero would be
Decisions about your hero's fate then are very much your choice. And
you, as a writer, are free to make those decisions based on your own value
systems and. the needs of your future stories,

My Final Quartet
So, how did the final quarter of my own little life story fare?

You'll remember that at the end of the third quarter I was at my lowest
ebb, raging against the world and my own faults, literally crushed and
defeated, in The Cave. In the modern hero's journey, a dark and suffocating
place from which there seems no obvious means of escape is often used as
a metaphor for the nine o'clock point, I had mine, I remember vividly

because I was crymg something that I rarely , like most men, ever do,
But just when things were at their blackest for me, I had a kind of
epiphany, I realized that I'd reached rock bottom, I knew that this time,
finally, it didnt have to happen again, I stood up, tears streaming down my
face, and cried out, NEVER AGAIN! Call it over- optimism, call it the
indomitable spirit,, whatever. At least I knew the only way was up. In that
moment, despite all the pressing problems, I was reborn: clean, my past
erased, I was able to start again,
But how the hell was I going to claw my way back?

Funny thing is I never once considered getting a nine to five job. That
was what the old me would have done. That had never worked for me in
the past. Why would I want to do it again, knowing that my former self
and his answers were of so little use tome? No, I was truly changed by my
supreme test and had to find a hero's way out, or die trying,

During the government course I'd taken I remembered something a

visiting accountant had said about business. He said many of them survive
on credit l also recalled that Richard Branson once said the gap between
using services and paying for them had saved his skin on several
occasions, I embraced the principle. Over the following week, I set up
accounts with printers, stationery companies, merchant banks and the
post office - all without a bean to my name,
I called the landlady and begged for two week's grace, I then took out
an ad in a local writer's magazine that I knew I didn't have to pay for sixty

days, I offered a free book to writers if they subscribed to my newly formed

WritingAcademy, Within two weeks I had eighty names and addresses, I
sat down and wrote a short book and I mailed it to those eighty people,
along with a promotion for a writing course, which I also wrote in a few
days. Out of the eighty, a staggering twenty -seven bought the course,
paying with checks and credit cards I cashed through my merchant
accounts. Within a month - during which I starved and lost twenty
pounds - I had $2,160 dollars, I quickly paid my back rent, bought a
hundred tins of baked beans and started posting out the courses. It may
not have been much but, as far as I was concerned, I was back,
Things got better,
I engaged a lawyer for $200 who wrote a letter to the Crown
Prosecution Service explaining my position. That I was a poor English
writer navigating the laws of a new country and trying to build a business
that would eventually help the Australian economy. Did they really want
to make an example of me by taking me to court over a few hundred
dollars? They dropped the case,

Time passed, I continued to expand my mailing list and send out

monthly promotions to WritingAcademy customers for the next two years,
Eventually I was selling dozens of five hundred dollar courses every week,
I'd turned everything around - and all without going back to the rat race,
Then even better,
A writer friend of mine knew a young children's author called Robyn

Opie who, he said, was impressed that I'd set up a writing business from
scratch. He thought we should meet. We did. At first we became business
partners, Robyn dealing with the mountain of mail I was getting by that
time, online and off. Then we started meeting twice a week to chat, have
fun and get drunk together. As a spur of the moment thing, we decided to
drive the six thousand kilometers from Adelaide to Darwin and back, just
for laughs,
Perhaps inevitably, we fell madly in love during that trip. Long story
short, we bought a house together and, three years later, we got married,
Now we have a thriving website and our own publishing and media
production company, FScF Books Film Music. We do everything together,
Between us we've written over one hundred books, many of them
bestsellers and translated into foreign languages; made over a dozen short
films; sold two screenplays to Hollywood and, to make no bones about it,
we live the good life, traveling the world and giving talks about our
attitudes toward writing and success. We've found peace and true

But we don't stand still. We're more busy than ever and looking
forward to the next chapter on our joint heroes' journey,

The Tarot

When your old life crumbles and every assumption you made has

been found fundamentally flawed, you're in a position to look up and see

the majesty of the universe. From this point on you can gain
enlightenment, experience karma and inherit the wisdom that was
destined to be yours. These simple truths are written, plain as day, into the
final six cards of the Major Arcana, Namely: The Tower,; The Star, The Moon,
TheSu%Judgment, and The World.

The Tower
S om etim es called La Matson Dieu or The Ho use of God, th e To wer card
is often thought to represent catastrophic destruction. In most packs,
lightning strikes a tall stone monolith which then burns and breaks apart
as people fall to their deaths or perhaps the previous occupants are finally
able to escape the confines of their own limitations. It's been suggested that
in classical times the tower represented, the gates of Hell or perhaps the
falling of the Tower of Babel, In this religious context, the crumbling of The
House of God would certainly seem to suggest that a fundamental change
of worldview is being implied and the result will be emptiness and grief,
However, this interpretation depends on whether you regard great change
to be a good thing or a bad. In the same way as the Death card is not
actually a portent of disaster. The Tower card can be seen as a 'shaking of
the foundations' of a belief system that is no longer serving you, I would
suggest that, in this crucial quarter of the hero's journey, we positively need
to have our foundations destroyed - so that we finally, once and for all,

understand that many of our assumptions are false. That our sense of
security is a sham. That our belief system is faulty. And that our

relationship with the world needs to be seriously challenged - and. the

truth finally exposed. When The To wer burns and we flee, we realize that
we are nothing without our self- deluding convictions. Therefore we are
perhaps nothing, period. Here, reality is exposed as a lie and. we are left
abandoned and alone on a godless planet.
But what happens next? What's the upside to this life-changing

The Star
The Star represents hope, a little glimmer pulsing in the darkness
seen while we're lying shell-shocked on the ground, A bit like my
realization in The Cave, after all was lost, that the only way was up,
Interestingly in the Rider- Waite version of The Stars there's an ibis perched
on top of a tree in the background (if you can take your eyes off the naked
female,) The ibis is said to represent the Egyptian god, Thoth, which, in
another incarnation, is Hermes Trismegistus, or Thrice- Great Hermes,
allegedly the god who taught humans how to use writing. So there's
literally hope for writers here!
Rider- Waite said that the large eight -pointed star in the center of the
picture is symbolic of the L'Etoile Flamboyants or the Blazing Star of the
Masonic Order., In this context the star is a metaphor for initiation. The idea
being that once you've 'passed the test' represented by The Tower> you may
enter a new world of hope, reason and transcendence. Also, the naked

female is pouring water into a pool and on to the Ian d, blending one with
the other. In other versions of the Tarot she is mixing waters from different
sources, a deliberate echo of the Temperance card where we learned that a
sense of balance is a prerequisite of true wisdom,
The pool of water is meant to signify the subconscious amid the
material world. So again there's a reference to melding the real world with
our brain's interpretation of it. Between the two, we find inspiration and a
renewed sense of discovery. We've left behind the stress of The Tower- and
sublimation to TheDev// for that matter- and moved into the calm after the
storm, where there's an opportunity to experience increasing clarity and a
better way of being,
From a hero's journey perspective we're receiving the reward for
facing our ultimate, or supreme test,

The Moon

The Moon represents all that is mysterious, wild and unpredictable.

As heroes we ha ve gained the prize but are temporarily phased. While still
aware of who we are and were, we sense all that is nowunknown to us. The
universe is much bigger than we thought. We've been so busy fighting for
our little corner, we've been too consumed to see the cosmos as a vast and
uncertain place. And just like the dogs baying at the moon, we are humbled
by what we don't fully comprehend. In traditional packs the emphasis is
on the metaphysical here. The crayfish emerging from the waters is meant

to symbolize our need to understand the divine intelligence inherent in

everything. And, that by learning and growing, we may attain a more
spiritual relationship with the world. If that doesn't mean a belief in God to
you, then most likely it will manifest as an appreciation of the sacred
beauty and logic that the universe can convey to us if we are open to its
subtle rhythms and cycles,
To the ancient mind the moon encapsulated many different things:

awe, motherhood, imagination, power, evil, madness, beauty, femininity,

light, compliance, the sea, a face, a god, the dark side of our natures. These
days, we're more literal. The moon is the moon: the place we allegedly
visited in 1969 to discover that it's not actually made of cheese,
But even to us, the moon has the ability to appeal to our imaginations
as a physical embodiment of the universe and all its majesty that is
literally within our grasp. The hero at this point is capable of feeling this


The Sun
On each new day, the sun comes up to greet us. It personifies growth,
energy, light, and signifies the emergence of life, the promise of wisdom,
and with an act of eternal benevolence, illuminates the pathway to truth
and enlightenment.

In most packs a child or children are apparent, riding horses or

dancing in the sunlight This implies hope for the future. Optimism too,
even if it's based on naivete. But there's nothing wrong with innocence,
even trying to cultivate it Sometimes wonder escapes us as we age and
mature. The truly wise seek out that wonder consciously - and there's
nothing quite like the sun pouring down on us to make us feel more alive
and content with our lot In the same way as The Moon is about illusions
and strangeness, The Sun represents the opposite: clarity, confidence and
In the context of the hero's journey, this card represents fulfillment
after the long adventure. Not only is the sun shining on the hero as it
does, for instance, at the end of movies to signify lightness and success, it
is also symbolic of the inner radiance the hero has discovered, after his
confrontation with the supreme test,

The hero will experience happiness at this point, being so close to the
end of his rite of passage,

Judgment represents a time when the hero can evaluate his progress
and see his place in the eternally changing reality of life. It's at the eleven
o'clockpointofthe clock-face, just before the hero's journey is complete,
Pictorially the card is traditionally a strange one. It's obvious to our
eyes that the card is referencing the New Testament idea of the

Resurrection that is supposed to occur when God comes down to earth and
calls everyone to account - at some unspecified time in the future. It could
well be that at the time of Christ, would-be Christians were meant to
believe that the Z<zstJudgment was literal and would be happening around
the latter half of the first century, Now, some believers are still waiting to
be judged worthy of a eternal life under God's care. The more enlightened
among us may regard the event described in The Book of Revelation as
allegorical. At its heart the message contains the same concept inherited
from the ancient Egyptians, where a person's soul would be weighed
against a feather at the point of death, to judge whether that person was
worthy of immortality or a place among the pantheon of stars above our


In a symbolic s ens %Judgment\s about accepting ourselves, including

our mistakes. It's about putting our lives in perspective, reconciling our
inner turmoil, receiving absolution, gaining redemption and allowing
ourselves to move forward without guilt. In other interpretations we are
reminded that we may be called to judgment at any time so perhaps it's a
good idea to live our lives to the fullest while we can,

For the herotJudgments not to be feared. He has learned his lessons

and proved himself worthy. Can we say the same of ourselves? That's
what the card is asking us,

The World

When you finally understand all aspects of the great cosmic plan of
existence, and your humble place within it, you metaphorically inherit the
It's worth remembering that the Catholic church did not approve of
the Tarot, despite many of the Christian references held within its pictures,
'Inheriting the world1 through redemption is not a particularly Christian
concept. If anything, it's Hermetic in origin which may account for the
church's distaste, which wrongly equated Hermeticism with devil worship
and magic. Nevertheless, The World card contains another reference to the
Book of Revelation in the animals that surround the central figure. The
throne of God is apparently encircled by four beasts: a lion, a calf, a man
and an eagle as they appear on The Worldcard. In more esoteric circles the
four beasts represent the four elements referenced throughout the Tarot:
passion (fire), intellect (air), emotion (water) and the material world
(earth) or, as the Minor Arcana invokes them. Wands> Swords, Cups and

All that aside, it's clear that the dancing woman in the middle of the
laurel is supposed to signify success and mastery over the world,
Interestingly the controversial mystic Aleister Crowley replaced the laurel
with an ouroborous a snake eating its own tale to signify the universe in
his own Thoth Tarot pack. Given what we now know about the quantum
nature of life, the never ending snake that consumes itself is not a bad
analogy for existence. It certainly highlights that the hero's journey is
never over. Life is a cycle. With each passing adventure or interaction with
experience in the pursuit of wisdom, we move back to the beginning and
simply start again,

The Quest for Immortality

The twentieth century French writer and artist, Jean Cocteau, once
said that to be immortal was to be carved in stone - because relative to
human life, stone lives on forever. In fact the phrase 'carved in stone' in
popular culture still implies 'that which is true and unending1. Hence, no
doubt, the need forkings and politicians to embody themselves in rock or
marble. It's a way of saying to the world, 'my power, authority and talent is
Your job as a writer is to create great stories that inspire us, as a
species, to belie ve in ourselves and show how our humanity can transcend
evil and chaos, and bring order and meaning. This might strike us as a

noble cause - and worthy of the hero's journey in itself but, insecure as
most of us are, one that may seem beyond our capabilities,
This is where I hope you'll find the knowledge of the hero's journey
useful to you. The hero's journey is not just a nebulous concept, it is more
fundamental than that. It's a window, if you will, into the soul of mankind,
The hero's journey is somehow written into our genetic makeup. When we
see it or experience it through storytelling, we tap into it because it is part of
who we are,
There is nothing ignoble or suspect about using the framework of the
hero's journey in your own fiction. In fact I would suggest that you use it
deliberately to give your fiction weight and depth. Even if you're writing
seemingly frivolous genre fiction, you'll find that using elements of the
hero's journey to construct your plots will enable you to create characters

that your readers will truly root for and love. And, you never know, you
might easily create a story that, like something carved in stone, lasts

Exexcises 4

Hie Fourth and Final Quarter

L The supreme test

Take everything you know about your hero and ask yourself, What
does he/she truly want?Then ask yourself, What would it takefor he/she to
achieve thisgoal?Finally ask yourself,, What is thegreatest obstacle he/she
mightface to gaining victory and attaining his/her dream/Your answer will
be the supreme test in your fiction story,
2, The momen. t of victory

Your heroes will most likely face their worst nightmare and win. But
don't make it too easy. Remember to use the YES/NO structure I mentioned
in the previous module. Nobody wants to read about a goal that is easily
attained especially at this crucial stage in the story. This is your big finish
the climax. It should be touch and go before the final cathartic triumph
over the outer threat and the inner conflict,

When victory is achieved, deliberately place something in the plot

that symbolizes freedom: a blue sky, a bird, an up-rush of relief and/or
happiness, the cheers of a crowd. Make it plain to the reader this is a
moment of jubilation,

3. The return to normality

Usually this might be seen as the winding down of the story but don't
confuse the content of this section with its purpose, which is to show that
your hero has returned to his normal life but as a changed person. In your
story there must be some kind of evidence in your characterization or
circumstance that indicates this change in viewpoint to your reader,
Remember that your hero is to all intents and purposes the opposite of his
former self. The reader needs tobe aware of the difference somehow,
4, Realignment

Study your story looking for loose threads and. use this section to
make sure there is symmetry and a sense of closure to all the characters'
agendas, any stray bits of subplot that may have crept in, and that the
story theme is restated as concluded at this point.
5, The top note

At the end of a story it's a good idea to metaphorically 'drawback' like

a camera would on the happy closing scene. Writers tend to do this by
slightly shifting perspective to the wider, longer view. The classic example

being 'and they lived happily ever after,' You don't need tobe soblatantbut
an all encompassing sense of finality in the last line of your work won't
hurt. Without sounding cheesy, of course,
6. Theend?

If yon intend to turn your story into a series you have two options,
One is to add some little teaser that alludes mysteriously to a plot element
in a future work. Or, in the case of more downbeat work like horror, SF or
fantasy, perhaps a suggestion that all the evil has notyetbeen dealt with,
Use the above template to design your own last quarter. Then go back
and add all your quarter templates together to form the whole story or use
the template below to create another story,

The Complete Hero's Journey Template

L Choose a character
2, Describe them in their world, as they have beenfor some time

Think of an event that rocks their world

4.. Imagine the resistanceyour herofeels as he/she is called to action

5\ Ha ve him/her refuse toget in volvedor seek the help of a men tor

6. No w come up with another event that willforce the hero to act

7. The hero commits to the cause

8. The hero is tested with mixedresults

9 The hero experiences trepidation

JO. Recruitment of allies

11. Further testing

12. The hero succeeds in some small way
13. The majorpaint of change

14 The immediate re ward

15\ The roadof trials
16' Self-discovery


Confron ting the challenge

18. The supreme test

19. The momen t of victory

20\ The return to normality

21. Realignment

22. The top note

23. Theend?

The Tarot
As we've- discussed, the pictorial images in the Major Arcana portray a

striking resemblance to the hero's journey model In case you're

wondering. I'm not the first person to notice this, Joseph Campbell and Carl
Jung both studied to Tarot in a bid to unlock its secrets. Many great
intellectuals and mystics have been drawn to the Tarot as a means of selfdiscovery and for wider esoteric study. It has much to reveal about the
unchanging quality of human nature. And the more you study the cards,
its origins, and the various interpretations of the seventy -eight cards, the
more profound and mysterious they may become,
Alas., there's no weird and. wonderful story behind the cards, as much
as some devotees would like there to be. These enigmatic images and their
collation into a pack of four suits and the Major Arcana probably started
out as a simple card game in the sixteenth or seventeenth century. It was a
French protestant pastor called Antoine Court de Gebelin that first
surmised that perhaps the cards held occult significance after he spotted a
group of women playing with them in an unspecified location. Only after
Gebelin's book on the subject, in which he claimed they were the Last
remnants of the Egyptian cult of Isis and Thoth - with a bit of the Jewish
Kabbalah thrown in - was it that they became divinatory tools at all. The

idea that gypsies were the last survivors of the ancient Egyptians is false,
as is the idea that gypsies used the Tarot for centuries before Gebelin,

Notwithstanding, the Tarot has been the topic of great debate and
study since 1781, Occult practitioners like Eliphas Levi, Arthur Waite,
Aleister Crowley and Elbe Howe devoted much time and effort in re
imagining the cards in an effort to construct a cohesive mythology that
attempts to span almost all cultures, old. and new, and many other arcane
influences. For your information, the best interpretation of the cards is
widely considered to have been written by Rachel Pollack in her beautiful
b ook, Seven ty-Eigh tDegrees of Wisdom,
From a writer's perspective the cards can be considered useful in
many ways, I recommend that, if you haven't already, you buy a pack of
Tarot cards partly for fun, partly to work out the stories within the
pictures and partly as a tool to help you plot your own stories. The RiderW aite pack is considered the best to start with, being the most widely used
and easily understood. The copyright to these cards was fiercely protected
by US Games until 2012, when they became public domain,

Get to know the cards by first looking through them in order, seeing if
you can determine a narrative thread throughout the Major Arcana
sometimes called the trump cards and through the Minor Arcana suits,

You'll find that within each of the suits there's a progression of ideas and
emotional states that uncannily mirrors human interactions and thought
processes. This exercise will help you think more logically when it comes to
plotting your own stories,

I particularly enjoy the 'story' told within the Wands suit which is
about coming up with creative ideas and progressing with them toward
fruition. The suit of Pentacles is interesting too because it attempts to track
our relationship with money and material goods from having nothing
more than hope to what real success looks like, AH fascinating stuff,

Later, shuffle thepackand pull out random cards to see what stories
they suggest to you. If you're feeling brave you can also do some spreads for
yourself like the Celtic Cross, or more simple three to five card divination
arrays a sample of which you'll no doubt find included in the pack you

I'm not going to insist that the Tarot pack is any kind of magic

repository of prophecy and wisdom - although there are many who might
disagree. But to me they are no less compelling and instructive for that, if
only as a way of expanding your imagination and gaining insight into
some of your assumptions about the world and your function within it,

Writers and Their Journey

When it comes to being seriously challenged as a writer in the final
quarter of a hero's journey, it's hard not to draw parallels with Stephen
King, His being hit by a truck at the height of his career is the stuff of
legend. Talk about supreme test!
In 1999, King was struck in the back by one Bryan Smith, who was

allegedly trying to restrain a dog in the back of his van. King had a broken
hip, a collapsed lung and his right leg was shattered in several places. His
doctors considered amputation. Five operations and much pain later, King
returned to his then current project, On Writing., In 2002, the master
announced his retirement from writing, brought about by the insufferable
agony that sitting at his desk caused him. Here is a man and writer tested
to his limit tempted by defeat and resignation. But what does he do?
Yes, he perseveres. He keeps writing and to this day is still producing
bestsellers that many critics regard as superior to his early work. Now
that's heroism!

Matthew Reilly wrote and self- published Contest when he was

nineteen years old. By the age of twenty -three this young Australian was
an international bestselling author. During the next ten years he produced
another ten highly successful novels, some of which have been optioned
by Hollywood, What is not widely known is that in 2011, his longtime
partner, Natalie Freer, took her own life in a hotel in Sydney, New South
W ales, while Reilly was away on a book tour. Despite the undoubted pain
and loss of his childhood sweetheart and muse, Reilly continues to write
and produce exemplary thrillers for the masses. His is truly an heroic
Much of JK Rowling's biography reads like a fairytale. From down and
out dole recipient to one of the richest women in the world, her life story
sounds almost fictional at times - except that if it was, nobody would
believe it!

From a writer's perspective, it seems Joanne can do no wrong. She

continues to mesmerize her fans - and gain new ones through her adult
novels all the time. The recent saga about her releasing The Cuckoo's Calling
under a pseudonym and then being 'outed' by the media has the same
fairytale quality you'd expect from her and her press agents, Rowling's
heroic story has much to teach the wannabe author about persistence, self
belief and the power of the hero's journey in her tales as well as in her
public image management.

Last Chance to Start You* Journey

All aboard!
Are you itching to begin your own voyage of discovery? Do you have

goals - inner and outer - and an agenda that mustbe challenged? I hope so,
Because, if you haven't started writing yet, then now is the time,
Don't wait for a perfect time to begin writing. That will never come,
Writers write, no matter what. You've seen that in the lives of all great

writers. In spite of hardship, or perhaps because of it, the most determined

writers find a way to keep going, to keep knocking out words, one at a time,
Don't blame others or your circumstances for whatever is holding you

back. It's not your partner's fault if you don't write. It's not your boss's fault.
It's not your parents' or your teachers' or your friends'. You need to take
responsibility for your own actions,

We all have obstacles both real and Imagined that hamper our
progress through life. Without drag, there would be no lift, to use a neat
flying analogy. Without restrictions, we'd have nothing to push against.
When all is said and done, we probably need hurdles to givens something
to jump over. We're like that as humans. We're at our best when we face
handicaps and obstructions,
But we also need to visualize a finishing line before we start running,
otherwise we won't know where we're heading,

Make a quick list of your goals. First list what you'd like to achieve in a
year. Then what you'd love to attain in five years. Then ten years. Having
goals means that every day you are reminded that you have things to do,
Based on your goals, create a list of five things to do each morning
and then do them. It's that simple,

Anything you want to achieve is possible, as long as you take little

steps toward your targets every day,
There's no real secret to success. No magic formula. Not even any
proven path. All successful writers' journeys are unique. Always have
been, always will be. You just have to make the decision to succeed on your
own terms and then start,
You cannot plan for every eventuality. Indeed, if you dwell on
possible problems, you'll slow yourself down to a halt. You need to move
and keep moving, vowing to deal with obstacles as they appear, just like

your heroes would in your stories,

Make writing success your intention. Then simply believe it will
manifest for you overtime,
Be who you want to be from this moment on. Trust the universe to
provide what you seek,

Persistent, almost irrational, self-belief will take you further than a

million books like mine. And much as I've loved having you along on this
journey beside me, it's now time we part and say goodbye. It's your chance
to leap into the unknown, much like TheFool in the Tarot - and just like the
hero in your next piece of fiction,
Take the first step on your own hero's journey,

And one day you'll no doubt inherit the world,

Go on, be the hero of your own life story,

Conclusion: A Call to Action

"Nogreat artist eversees things as they really are, If he did, he would

cease to he an artist "

Oscar Wilde

The artist draws on anything and everything for inspiration,

As Picasso said, good artists borrow, great artists steal The trick, if
there is one, is to do as Scott Adams of Dilbert fame suggested, that is to

use great ideas but then do your utmost to hide your influences. In this
way, you're seen as presenting an old truth in new clothes. There's no need
to reinvent the wheel every time. We can't all be Hemingway and learn
firsthand about love and war and death and human suffering. Some of us
have to pick up what we know from other authors who have been there
and done that before us,
In a recent article I found, scientists discovered that reading a novel
created the same mental pathways in the brain as If it had actually
experienced a real sequence of events. To our minds, there's no difference
at all between reading about something heroic and dangerous and actually
doing it for real. To me, this is where your knowledge of the hero's journey

will help you. Just reading this book will help the concept become part of
who you are as a writer. You may not even know this consciously , but
subconsciously your mind will recognize that the hero's journey is a real
and powerful tool for writers,
For a long time, the idea that we need to experience symbolic death
followed by rebirth to attain wisdom has been part of the human psyche,
To me this probably stems from watching the seasons come and go for
millennia. In our minds, death and rebirth are implicit in the way nature
works. We don't need to be told about it. We can see it, right in front of our

Certain cults, old and modern, still use the idea of symbolic death and
rebirth, often called 'initiation' as a tool to make their cults stronger, no
doubt, as well as to inspire loyalty and a sense of growing as people in their
followers. Prior to initiation, the neophyte is often told that the world
contains 'mysteries' that cannot be known but are better 'experienced,'
Hence the need for ceremonies like baptism, a bar-mitzvah or the rituals
surrounding moving up through the degrees of Freemasonry,
We see little rituals in our daily lives too,

Birthdays, deaths and marriages have their unique societal

ceremonies that signify moving from one state of consciousness to

We appreciate that when a significant time comes, there is a need to

celebrate and acknowledge the passing of one stage of our existence into

another. Archaeologists agree that intelligent life is particularized by the

inclusion of ritual implements in the graves of the dead. Seeing beyond the
physical requires acknowledgment of the 'mysteries', expressed through
the use of ritualistic practices and 'sacred' artifacts. Human beings are in
fact defined by their use of ritual,
The hero's journey is an implicit acknowledgment that wisdom only
comes through effort: standing up for what we believe in and defeating our
inner demons along with our external enemies. But you don't have to be
Bruce W illis to play the hero, W e all do it every day of our lives,

Waking up in a daze, finding the grit to get up and go to work, deal

with the boss, find food for lunch and brave the commuter rush on the way
home: this too is an heroic journey showing us that we have control over
ourselves. It may not feel that way, but it is. We tend to think of people
doing outrageously selfless things as heroes, and they may be, but we
forget that ordinary things like bringing up a child is amazingly heroic,
Making a marriage work is heroic. Writing a book is heroic,
It's about control. How much control we have over ourselves is as at

least as important as realizing that we can't control everything and that

giving in when the odds are against us is sometimes just as courageous as
fighting on,
We have to believe that we can grow and change. It's fundamental to
being human. Without that spark of humanity, we're lost as a species,
Admitting that you have given up control to external pressures is the
ultimate cowardice and inappropriate to dealing with life. Psychology

and even our burgeoning knowledge of physiology proves that we can and
do regularly grow and change. That we can outgrow habits, that we do
reassess our lives and move on. In short, we do learn newbehaviors when
we set out to do just that,
W e can improve, W e can grow, W e can change. That's the good news,
W e can get better at what we do, no matter what the circumstances or
mindset we perceive may hold us back,

The hero's journey, the Tarot, even the lives of the great writers before
us all prove that individual and collective growth and change and the
yearning to attain mastery over our destinies is fundamental to being

Never feel you don't have what it takes to be a writer and a hero,
Because you do,

Keep Writing)

Rob Parnell

Your Success is My Concern

www,easy wa vtowrite , com

Review This Book

Please feel free to re vie w this book on Amazon Kindle,

especially if yon feel this course will help others on their hero's journey,
Y our feedback is appreciated,

http:// www,amazon,com/ Writer-Heros-Journev-Easy- Writeebook/ dp/B00I9NB79Q/

Y ou may also like to join my Kindle Review Club,

Y ou get free Kindle books from me to beta read, review and keep,

http:/ / easy way to write,com/Kindle Revie w,Club,html

Rob Parnell's Writing Resources

As the coming months roll by , it is my intention to put all of my

writing res ounces, courses and books onto Amazon, This is a large project

that includes aimost a decade worth of writing. Below I have listed the
books that are already on Amazon plus others that are still available at my

Free Writing Lessons

http:/ / easy way towrite,com

The Easy Way to Write a Novel That Sells

http://www,amazon,com/Easy- Write-NovebThat-Sellsebook/ dp/B00FR155MU

The Easy Way to Write Short Stories That Sell

http:// www,amazon,com/Easy- Write-Short-Stories-

ebook/dp/BQQF2 89 NDK

The Easy Way to Write Romance That Sells

http:/ /

The Easy Way to Write Thrillers That Sell

http:/ / WriteThrillers-ThatSell

ebook/ dp/B00G3DBC2S

The Easy Way to Write Crime Fiction That Sells

http:/ /

The Easy Way to Write Fantasy That Sells

The Easy Way to Write Picture Books That Sell

http:/ / - Write-Picture-Books-Thatebook/ dp/B00GlXIUF2

Howto Write a GREAT Children's Book

The Easy Way to Write Horror That Sells dp/B0QGX2B29M

The Easy Way to Write Hollywood Screenplays That Sell

http:// www.amazomcom/ Easy- Write-Hollywood-Screenp la vs-Thatebook/dp/BOQGRQDlYE

Easy Cash Writing

http:/ / www.amazomcom/Easv-Cash- Writing-Living-Freelanceebook/ dp/BOOTLTFOlG/

The Elements of Story: Character, Agenda & Plot

http:/ / Elements-Storv-Character- PerfectMa rketpla c e - eb oo k/' d p / B 0 QMW PN UV W /

The Easy Way to Write TV Shows That Sell

http/www.amazomcom/Easy-Write-Shows-That-SelLebook/ dp/BOOIIYDIKW/

The Easy Way to Write an Autobiography That Sells

http:// www.amazomcom/ Easy Write-Autobio graphy-That-Sellsebook/dp/B00HFKT2IQ/

Make You Writing Sparkle: Self Editing for Success

http:/ / www.amazontom/Make-Y our-'Writing-Sparkle-Self-Editing"

ebook/ dp/BOOMQNXQBQ/

Show Don't Tell

http:/ /

From Zero to Flero: Flow to Make a Living Writing Fiction

http:/ / www,amazomcom/Zero -Hero- LI VING ~ Writing-Fiction ebook/ dp/B00KWY5CUW/

The Art of Story

The Easy W ay to Get Rich: 21 Keys to Lasting Prosperity

Rob Parnell's Fiction

If you like my writing style, It's likely you'll enjoy my fiction. Im very
proud of the books below and offer them to you as examples of my
work, for your delectation.

Purge: A Matt Johansen Crime Thriller

Kindred: A Serial Killer Thriller

http:// 5 WDB4E/

Willow: A YA Paranormal Thriller gp/product/B0Q69 WMIBC

Nine Tales: 9 Short Fiction Chillers

Sherlock Holmes: Zombie Slayer

http:/ /"
ebook/ dp/B00SE3413C/

Connect With Rob Parnell

If you have any questions about writing or need help, advice or guidance
on any aspect of my courses and books, piease don't hesitate to contact me
personally. My email is

Rob Parnell's Amazon Author Page e/BQQ6QPU4NQ/

The Easy W ay to Write website

http:/ / easy way

Easy Way To Write Elog

http:/ / easy

Rob's Author Blog


Rob's Goodreads

http:/ /
Rob's Youtube Channel

http:/ / w w w. y outub / robp a rn e112 008

Rob's Twitter

http:/ /1w it te m / robp a rn e11

Rob's Facebook

http:/ /
Rob's imdb 587/

Rob's Stage 32

http:/ / www.stage 3 2,com/profile/ 780 72 /rob-parnell

Rob's iTunes:

http://itunesJappIeJcom/iis/ artist/' rob -p a rne II/