Recently, I’ve been working on learning the Hero’s Journey a little better. Structuring full-length stories has always been a bit troublesome for me, as I’m used to the roleplaying method of creating an overall goal and a hook to get there, and then letting the players take over and drive the story. Since I’m writing longer fiction these days, I’ve had to make some adjustments and learn some new skills.
The story structure I like the most, because it’s the most fun for me to work with (while this is my first time writing longer works, I’ve studied most of the major story structures out there), is the hero’s journey.
During my “study craft” session today (a daily habit), I decided to explore the hero’s journey by adapting it to an episode of CW’s The Flash. Below is an example of a broad plot structure that does not include the subplot that weaves the show’s incredible cast of supporting characters into the drama. This is just the main story (the hero vs. villain plot).
- Ordinary World: Barry Allen running through the city and conducting day-to-day affairs.
- Call to Action: A villain attacks and gets The Flash’s attention.
- Crossing the Threshold: The Flash responds either by investigating the crime scene or engaging the villain in action. This ends up with the villain getting away.
- Mentor Teaches the Lead: The Flash learns about the nature of the villain’s powers. Sometimes this includes an ill-fated theory on how to defeat the villain, but most often just a mention of Cisco’s tracking software looking for the next time the villain strikes.
- First Challenge: The Flash confronts the villain and fails. The stakes are increased as the villain threatens something important to The Flash.
- Temptation: The Flash’s ability to defeat the villain is questioned, either by himself or his team, and, without a new strategy, defeat is inevitable. (This is usually where Cisco or Wells “has an idea.”)
- Dark Moment: The villain begins to enact his evil plan. (Sometimes The Flash is given his winning strategy or contraption here.)
- Final Conflict: The Flash confronts the villain. If there he has not yet received his winning strategy or contraption, he will begin to lose before figuring his team figures it out. If he already has it, it will fail momentarily and things seem lost before he can make a last minute adjustment and try again, eventually overcoming his foe.
- Return Home: Things normalize and The Flash goes back to running through the city and conducting day-to-day affairs.
- Epilogue Hook: A dark force will be shown that either leads to the very next episode or foreshadows some future villainy The Flash will have to stop.