Hero's Journey (Volger) | Chris Viola | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

15 Lessons (23m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Ordinary World

    • 3. Call 2 adventure

    • 4. Refusal of the call

    • 5. Meeting with the mentor

    • 6. Crossing the 1st threshold

    • 7. Test allies and enemies

    • 8. Approach inmost cave

    • 9. Ordeal

    • 10. Reward

    • 11. The Road Back

    • 12. Ressurection

    • 13. Return with the elixer

    • 14. Summary

    • 15. Class Project

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About This Class

Learn the more modern version of the Hero's Journey, based on a 2007 book by Christopher Volger.

Music credit: "Neon Laser Horizon" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

Meet Your Teacher

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Chris Viola

Writer and Marketing professional


After spending years studying Writing and Digital Marketing, I love teaching classes about these things on Skillshare so that others can build their skillsets. I have several years of experience and education in these subjects, have read many books and seen many videos on the subjects. I also love teaching classes about some of my hobbies, allowing you to get the ball rolling on some new ways to enjoy yourself, most of which are budget-friendly, so anyone can enjoy them.

I'm a graduate of the Digital Marketing Institute and a Published Author looking to teach others these future proof skills that I love to use. Looking forward to teaching you. 

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1. Intro: So the hero's journey, originally created by Joseph Campbell in 1949, is still a very common way for writers to structure their story. Despite the fact that it was never intended to be that. But it works. However, there are a few things about it that are a bit dated. Now this isn't Campbell's fault because it was the forties and everything that he made was appropriate for its time. But stories evolve, culture evolves. That's why in 2007, Christopher bottler created an updated hero's journey. This one has 12 steps instead of Campbell's original 17 and is a lot more modernized. A lot of the steps are still the same. And some of them are similar to some of the original 17 and a few of kind of been merged or split or reshuffled. But it still captures the original intent of Campbell, as well as being much more relevant for the modern day. And if you're a writer right now, you can use Wagner is 12-Step guide to creating the story. Part 1, the departure has five steps, are to the initiation has four. And part 3, the return has the final three steps. So if you're ready to learn the most common guideline for writing the story in the modern age. Let's get into it right now. 2. Ordinary World: Step 1 in Wagner's guide is the ordinary world. Now, the ordinary world is where you introduce your main character or quote unquote hero, as well as the world they live in. Now, the world they live in will often be determined by your setting. If it takes place in the modern world, you should probably describe things such as the location as well as anything local that might be important, that large part of your audiences familiar. If you have something like a science fiction or fantasy story or something that's a combination of both. Maybe a technological urban fantasy or science fantasy or something mythological. Or it's in the past. Then this is where you're going to want to explain that. Hopefully not using heavy-handed exposition, you probably want to make things as natural as possible and better yet, use show. Don't tell where you are. So your main character, interacting with the world and teach your audience that way. This should also be where you establish some of the core characteristics of both your main character as well as any supporting characters that you want to have introduced. Early. Point of this is to establish a lot of the most basic information about your story as early as possible before some of the action starts. 3. Call 2 adventure: Next is the call to adventure. The call to adventure is usually something that interrupts the ordinary world and prompts your main protagonists to pursue something. Sometimes it's something that your protagonist finds and almost go searching out or bumps into by chance. Or sometimes it feels almost as if the story is forced upon them. This is often called an inciting incident. It's the point that features a bit of a transition from the ordinary world into the very start of the adventure. Really, it's something that's pretty blatantly obvious to both the protagonist and the audience that following this path will lead to some kind of adventure or series of events that would be very exciting. And it's where the audience is usually first introduced to the main plot of the story. 4. Refusal of the call: Next, if you choose to include it, is the refusal of the call. This is an optional part of the hero's journey and not always seen. And if included, should reflect your character is goals, objectives, and usually fears. This is where your protagonist sees the call to adventure and chooses not to pursue it. Whether they feel obligated to do something within the ordinary world, or a reluctance to go on an adventure, generally out of fear for what it is that's out there. This showed in some way reflect your character. If your character fields or responsibility for their home and their family, that would be a reason for them to refuse the call to adventure. For others. Sometimes if you want to build up how scary this possibility of adventure is, having the protagonist turn down the call to adventure for that reason, is also an idea that you can pursue. Also if you choose to skip, this should also reflect who we are main protagonist dates. Sometimes they dive into the call to adventure simply because they see some kind of reward at the end that will make it worthwhile. Also sometimes whether they accept or refuse can be them actually weighing out the pros and cons and then deciding not to go. If your character does refuse the call, they would be punished in some way, which then prompts them to go out on the adventure. This is often being hurt in some way, or losing someone close to them or seeing something happened, that they could have stopped if they had taken the call to adventure. Or sometimes whatever the prize is for going on the adventure is something that previously they didn't need, but now, all of a sudden they needed because of something that happened in their life. Again, the most important thing to do here is to have your characters choice reflect whatever theme you want to have, as well as your main characters, fears and goals, as well as making a logical within your universe and not having the refusal take too long. Because otherwise you're just eating up the clock and you'll probably bore your audience. 5. Meeting with the mentor: Next is the meeting with the mentor. This is, as you would've mentioned, where the main character meets the mentor character you choose to have within the story in some form or another. Or a character who was already in the main character's life is introduced as someone who can mentor or teach them along the way. This can be in the form of an older family members such as a parent, aunt, uncle, or a grandparent, or a close family friend, or sometimes a stranger whose goals are simply aligned in some way. This is where often having your main character be not so knowledgeable about any supernatural or magical things within your world as an advantage because then having the mentor simply tell the protagonist all these secrets and by proxy, telling the audience is a lot more acceptable. In a more magical or fantasy or sci-fi setting. If you want to explain a lot of the ins and outs of the system to your audience. Having the mentor tell their main protagonist is often a common way of doing it. However, you don't want to make this completely boring. Even if there is no real action or anything in this, you do want to make things interesting and reflect the personalities of your mentor, your main character, and any other supporting characters who may be involved learning alongside your main character. 6. Crossing the 1st threshold: The final section of Part 1, departure is the fifth step, crossing the first threshold. Now what's meant by the first threshold is moving away from the ordinary world and everyday life that your hero or protagonist lives in and moving into a new area. This can be a new physical area on a map that they've never been to where your adventure takes place. Or it can be more out there in less grounded and more fantastical settings. Either way, this is basically the line where the introduction to your story ends and the main adventure part begins. This is where a lot of the previous stuff mentioned in meeting with the mentor goes from stuff that's being told to, stuff that's being shown firsthand. And you can have some small dialogue between the hero and the mentor to finally show that this is just in case the audience doesn't get it. But if you do this, you have to make sure it's brief and not to hand visited. Otherwise, it'll just come off as cheesy and Kish. Because the audience will assume that you are not giving them the credit of being able to put 22 together. So often a single line of dialogue will do one of the best ways to build character for your protagonist, your mentor, and any supporting characters here would be to show how they react. If you want your hero to be someone who's a little bit nervous and overwhelmed. Show them being overwhelmed here. If there's someone who is a little bit arrogant, but then gets a metaphorical slap in the face with how difficult things are showed this year. If they're nervous, show them being nervous. Because this is when your hero is finally faced with a lot of the realities of your story. 7. Test allies and enemies: Step six is the beginning of part 2 initiation. It is called tests, allies and enemies. This is where the hero, after finally having absorbed all of the shock and awe of crossing the first threshold. Finally encounters the main midi core of their actual adventure. And the first time after reality has said in their beginning to understand this new world, the world of adventure. As is indicated, this is where if there's any supporting characters who haven't been introduced yet to be allies are introduced, as well as any recurring enemies that will be shown through it. This is probably the best time to build character for said supporting characters, both your allies and your enemies. As often, this is where your hero will encounter a lot of them for the first time. And where we established characters will be interacting with the hero in the world of adventure for the first time. This is generally where you want to make the stakes the most clear, as well as foreshadow what the final conflict will be in a lot of scenarios. If there's any internal conflict or external conflict that you want to build up as really important. Have it be mentioned a few times here, even just in passing, just to make your audience aware of how important news. But it's still good to keep the primary focus on what is happening in the moment. 8. Approach inmost cave: The second step in part 2 is step 7, approaching the inmost cave. This is where the hero is building up and approaching their final ordeal. And it's used to build up to the climax of the story. If there's ever been a point where it's like, whoo now, you know what is about to hit the fan or stuff's about to get real. Where the hero has their final showdown with whatever the so-called final boss or main antagonist, or whatever it is that they're dealing with will be happening. Usually this part though is not where the hero faces them, but where they finally decide to face them or how to face them. This is often preceded by a low point where the hero seems to have no choice. If you want to have your hero and their supporting characters reflect on what's going on beforehand. This is a good time to do so because it's the calm before the storm. So to say, if the storm is the climax of your story. 9. Ordeal: The next step and often one of the most exciting in this hero's journey is called the ordeal. The ordeal, as you probably expect by its name, is when the hero and maybe their allies, if they have any in this particular story, deal with whatever the main problem is. And it's usually where they face the main challenge, as well as several challenges that may or may not lead up to it. 10. Reward: Part 9, which is the final part of Act 2, is called seizing the reward. This usually comes immediately after victory for your hero and any support that they might have. Seizing of the reward is where they capture whatever fries it is that they had to go four. Or whatever reward is that they are given for vanquishing the foe. Or they reap whatever internal or warning was from slaying their internal demons. Usually, what the reward is, is made very quick and very apparent to the audience. And there's an emotional release for your hero. Any surviving supporting characters as well as the audience as a whole. Knowing that the hero has won the day. 11. The Road Back: Part ten is the beginning of Act 3. Part ten is called the road back. Now, the road back is after the hero has one and claim the reward they are to begin going back to the ordinary world. This is usually a very calm moment within the story. As the hero and any supporting characters are usually to some extent right now at peace. And their guard is let down a little bit. It's usually a very joyous moment, both for the hero as well as for the audience. As we can see the hero beginning to return back to their normal life. This part should however, be very quick as we have already passed the climax of the story. 12. Ressurection: Part 11, if you choose to include it, is called the resurrection. It is the part in any story where whatever main villain it was, makes a last ditch attempt to get back at the hero or heroes of the story. This confrontation is usually very brief. In movies, it often lasts no more than a minute. And in books, it'll often last no more than two or three pages. Usually, the hero is caught off guard by this and is in total shock. And this often happened back at where the ordinary world part of the story took place in the very beginning. Basically on the heroes harmed home turf and outside of the land of adventure. Here, the heroes win again. And there is generally some kind of indication that now the villain is gone for good. It also should be noted that this is one of the easiest parts in the story to skip if you want to, because it's not necessary for every story. And if you choose not to use this, this is one of the more understandable one to miss because once again, there is more than one way to write a story. 13. Return with the elixer: Part 12, which is the finale of Act 3 and the last part of Bulgars hero journey as a whole is called return with the elixir. This is where the hero finally returns home with whatever rewarded was they got in part nine, seizing the reward, and they bestow whatever gifts or assists it is that as needed within the ordinary world and victory is felt by everyone involved. This is your happy Holton ending to your story. And once again, like everything else in Act 3, it is a part that is extremely brief, lasting usually only a few minutes or a few pages, depending on which medium your story takes. 14. Summary: So to summarize, Wagner is a hero journey. It is a 12-step process divided into three acts, created in 2007 as a more modernized version of Joseph Campbell's 1989 hero's journey. We go from The showing the hero within their everyday life to being pulled into an adventure that they may or may not refuse, depending on your story. Learning about whatever world of adventure they're going to be drawn into. And then leaving their home, meeting new friends and enemies along the way as they begin the exciting part of the story. And then they approach the final conflict. Deal with the final conflict, re-throw awards, begin to go back, maybe faced a villain one last time, and then return with whatever rewards it is they got. This can be applied to pretty much any genre and there is a lot of room to work within it. As a lot of these parts can either be put into a slightly different order or skipped entirely depending on the needs of your individual story. With that, we will go on to the class project. 15. Class Project: Now time for the class project. What you do is you take a fictional work that has already been published, such as a book, a show, or movie. And you describe how each of the 12 steps of the Hero's Journey applies to this work through our outline for this is attached. And other than that, you're done. Thank you for watching this course. Have a good day and good luck with your writing.