Recently, I have been rereading elements of story structure so in an effort to take these elements from my mind to the page I penned this thought bubble on the matter of the 3 Act Hero’s Journey. It’s a well discussed topic, so I have tried to only included the core elements I think are important.
The classic view of the 3 Act Hero’s journey consist of:
- Act 1 – Beginning
- Act 2 – Middle
- Act 3 – Climax
The breakdown: Natural view 3 Act structure
Act 1 – Beginning: This is the introduction to your story and should consist of the setting, tone, and appearance of your main propagandist/s. This section should provide the initial direction your propagandists will take and make promises of how they will get there.
(ACT 1 & 2): Transition: This is the point in your story where a crisis or escalation in the story forces the propagandists forward, either by choice or consequence.
Act 2 – Confrontation: The bulk of the story is this section. The hero/s will face various challenges, many they will fail or have limited success, until they approach the final Climax. Having learned many hard lessons they are stronger, more determined for this ultimate face off.
Act 3 – Resolution: Conclusion of the story line, however that may be. This is were the different elements of the story can be tied off or at least expanded upon so the reader feels they have closure, good or bad.
Standard (not written in stone) book story percentage:
- Act 1 – 20%
- Act 2 – 70%
- Act 3 – 10%
The Hero’s Journey Cycle
The Hero’s Journey, also called the monomyth is the typical view of a storyline of the hero narrative introduced in the book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Campbell 1949. Campbell describes the stages of the hero’s progress through a story from initial child like beginnings, escalating struggles into the unfamiliar and coming full circle back to the hero’s beginnings. Overlaying the three act format we see:
- Start: Setting, tone and generally the introduction Mentor figure to initially guide the hero story, e.g. Gandalf in Lord of the Rings.
- The hero transitions from the things he is familiar with to the unfamiliar.
- Threshold 1: Consists of the transition point (usually the loss of the mentor), the Crisis Point; the place in the story where the hero think can’t go on or can’t win, and then the Boon, coming in different forms, magical, strength or knowledge leading to a final transition of self and psyche.
- The hero transitions from the things he is unfamiliar with to the familiar.
- Threshold 2: The Climax (Apothesosis) and conclusion. Final revealing and the journey home (metaphorical or physically), where the hero realises they have becomes the Mentor, e.g. Luke in Star Wars.