Into the Unknown

At this point in the story, your heroic journey is finally starting. Your hero is now ready, willing, and equipped to face what comes next. Of course, what comes next isn’t easy.

Stranger Danger

One of the key points of the hero’s journey is leaving the known and familiar and diving into worlds unknown. This can be figurative or literal. For example, in a romantic hero’s journey, the unknown may be navigating a relationship for the first time. Contrastly, if you’re writing a fantasy story, your hero may be actually going to another land or world.

In order to actually journey into this unknown territory, your hero will need to cross the “first threshold”. Beyond this is the unknown and behind them lies the familiar. Consider the following examples:

  • Romance: I wiped my sweating palms onto my pants. This was it. Our first date. I stood before the door, ready to knock. Here goes nothing, I thought to myself.
  • Fantasy: I stood at the border of my land, drinking in the moment. One more step and I’d officially be in enemy territory. The landscape before me looked no different from that behind me, but I knew that this step would change everything.


To make that step into the unknown the hero often has to face a “guardian”. This person tries to prevent the hero from crossing that barrier. The hero approaches this guardian unafraid and ready to use their entire skillset (both mental and physical skills) to defeat this foe and continue this journey. I’ll continue the above examples to help flesh out how this might look:

  • Romance: My knock sounded hollow against the hard wood. As the door creaked open, it wasn’t Julia’s beautiful face there to greet me. Of course not. It was her mom, arms crossed, eyebrows pulled close together. “You must be Julia’s mom, it’s so nice to meet you.”
  • Fantasy: Before I could even take that step, the ground began to tremble and opened up before me. At first I thought it would swallow me whole, but no, this pit wasn’t for devouring. Instead it spat out a golumn, oozing putrid mud from his pores.

The hero must defeat this foe in order to proceed. Of course, defeating doesn’t always mean “killing”. In the romantic example this means winning over the mother. The second may involve killing the golumn or outwitting him in some way. You’re the author. You get to decide.

Want to continue along with this series on writing your own hero’s journey? Use the form below to subscribe and get email notifications when I post. As always, happy writing!