Heroic Journey 2 – The Call

I went back and forth on whether or not I should include the call and the refusal together. I mean the refusal tends to happen immediately after the call so why not? In the end I decided there was so much to unpack with “The Call” that I went ahead and decided to separate the two posts. After all, you will probably need the first chapter to establish characters, set up backstory, etc. I recommend making “the call” at the end of your story so that you can have a bit of a “cliffhanger” to encourage your readers to open the second chapter.

The Call

The call to adventure rarely involves someone showing up and saying “Hey let’s go on an adventure!” Of course there are exceptions such as “The Hobbit” where Gandalf literally shows up to invite Bilbo on an adventure. However most of the time the call is a lot more subtle.

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The call can occur because of a mistake the hero makes. For example, the hero might break something and now they need to fix it. Their adventure would involve fixing what has been broken. A disaster could also constitute a call. Think about Encanto. The house begins falling apart and now Maribel needs to save the family. Some other examples of the call include:

  • An arranged marriage
  • A request from a friend or other person
  • A discovery
  • An illness

The Herald

An important part of the call is the arrival of “The Herald”. The herald is the person who calls the hero to adventure. Think of trumpets announcing the arrival of something important. This is the role of the herald.

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In “The Hobbit” the herald is Gandalf. In Harry Potter the herald is Hagrid. The herald only appears when the hero is ready for the adventure or the need for an adventure has occurred. This individual is often mysterious or magical in some way. This individual is calling the hero to walk away from the familiar into the unknown. While this can be exciting, it’s also scary.

Think about a time in your life when you had to do something new. Maybe it was starting high school or changing careers. Even if you were excited, you were still taking a big step into unknown waters. Another important thing to note about the Herald is that they represent “the power of the Abyss”. This is something we will get into more, but for now think about the biggest challenge your hero is going to overcome. How can your Herald represent that challenge in some way? Here are some examples:

  • In the “Princess and the Frog” the prince is a gross slimy creature. The “abyss” involves kissing this thing.
  • Hagrid is a wizard (sorta). The greatest challenge Harry will have to face is fighting a great wizard.
  • If your “abyss” is depression, the herald might be someone who is super negative.
  • If your individual is being forced into a marriage they don’t want their herald could be the person they are marrying since the greatest challenge will be going through with the marriage.
  • A new boss can be a herald as they represent the challenge of starting a new career.

Questions? Feel free to leave a comment below. If you found this post helpful please subscribe using the form below so that you can follow along as I continue to unpack “The Hero’s Journey”. You can also follow me on Instagram as I give updates when I post new content. If you haven’t done so already I highly recommend you pick up your copy of “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell as he gives so many more examples and details. As always, happy writing!