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Notes: I’m using Vogler’s 12 steps of the Hero’s Journey and there will be some spoilers for my novel in this post. As both Campbell and Vogler state that not every step on the journey needs to happen in every story, it's hard to judge if one’s story is a hero’s journey. For this post I’m looking for my book “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” to have 7 of the 12 steps or over half.
1. The Ordinary World—a snapshot of the world our characters live/work in day to day. It establishes a status quo before something comes and tears it to pieces. First chapter of “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” is an establishing shot, but it’s not an idyllic world I’m trying to start the book off kilter with something already wrong out and about in the world. And readers don’t meet my hero they meet the villain. 0 points.
2. The Call to Adventure—this is about pushing the hero out of their comfort zone. Could be a quest or an attack or something else. The definition is so vague, I think all books have something we could identify as the “call.” “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” has 2 “calls to adventure”, one for my hero and the other for my villain. The first call happens to Gerry in chapter 3 where he thinks, “If she noticed him once, how hard will it be to get the right kind of attention a second time?” Gerry’s entire year focuses on capturing Roxi. For Roxi her “call” happens in Chapter 4 and is less quotable, but she’s given a message from her god. 1 point.
3. Refusal of the Call—where the main character denies the invite and attempts to stay in their safe, ordinary world. This is a re-occurring and boring trope. As readers we already know the hero will go do the thing, let’s just skip the pouty whining and get into it shall we? Neither protagonist nor antagonist in “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” fight their mission. 0 points.
4. Meeting the Mentor—The hero agrees to the journey, but they lack the skills or resources to succeed. Enter the mentor could be a person or item (like a map or a powerful sword). I don’t like fetch quests and I think the whole “mysterious old man” is played out. In my head whenever I hear the term mentor I think of Phil, the centaur from Disney’s Hercules and yeah that guy won’t be in any of my stories. No special items or advisors in my story! 0 points.
5. Crossing the Threshold—This is the part where the adventure kicks off, where we see our hero go forth with commitment to their new goal. Gerry works to his new goal in Chapter 6, though we only learn about his involvement in chapter 9. He tries again in chapters 11 and chapters 20 with mounting tension. Roxi’s goal is more nebulous and harder to achieve, but she strikes out on her path in chapter 7. 1 point.
6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies—Here the hero gets acclimated with their new world, goes through tests, and gains friends/assets for their final showdown. Since Roxi’s entire mission within “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” is to gain friends/allies, she technically does this. The series of social interactions that bond her to the girls and Roxi’s eventual lover aren’t battle hardened action pieces, but they show Roxi floundering, fighting with herself, and doing something she considered scary. Gerry sets up trials until he realizes what he’s doing wrong and moves to alter it. Not sure either do what this step intends so 1/2 point?
7. Approach the Inner Most Cave—Where the hero reaches the most dangerous part of their journey “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” has this, it’s when Roxi and Gerry have their face-to-face meeting. 1 point.
8. Ordeal—The hero faces a test. Roxi and Gerry make a wager and it sends Roxi on a dangerous quest to reclaim her friends before time runs out. 1 point.
9. Reward—The end is in sight and the hero can see everything they’ve worked for coming together. Roxi enjoys a moment of this in chapter 28 and so does Gerry. 1 point.
10. The Road Back—So the hero has the prize and must return the ordinary world. The journey should be harrowing. Um, “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” goes way off the rails here. Both for Gerry and Roxi. Neither achieves what they want. Roxi creates a plan to get some of what she wants, and there is a literal flight from faeryworld, but it just doesn’t seem to match this phase to me… besides which all of this happens in pages not a 3rd act. 0 points.
11. Resurrection—Where the villain gets one last chance to conquer the hero. The hero may get to use the reward at this point in the story to defeat the villain. Roxi and Gerry have a final face off. 1 point.
12. Return with the Elixir— Hero returns home older and wiser. They may have gained knowledge or an item. Roxi does returns to her home, and she is changed by her journey through faeryworld. While Roxi’s return is not complete, I believe her goal to reconnect with the world around her and to become more social and connected with her feeling is a success. 1 point.
Out of 12 points, I have 7and 1/2. I am surprised to say that “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” happens align with the hero’s journey. I feel like I forced a few plot points to fit these descriptions, and I don’t think calling my book a hero’s journey tells readers much about the content. Still, this was an interesting exercise.
Talk to me! Does your story also follow this sequence? What do you think of the twelve steps? Are you like me and despise some suggested stops, or do you think each is crucial?