In Fault in Our Stars the main character begins her story in what, for her, is an Ordinary World. Hazel has cancer, she's sixteen and she's dying and she's been fighting cancer for years now. Hazel doesn't want to hurt too many people when she dies so she foregoes close relationships with everyone but her parents. An average evening for Hazel is a night in watching America's Top Models with her mom.
The next step in every Hero's Journey is the Call to Action. The call to action draws the main character our of their comfort zone and starts the journey towards some kind of transformation. For Hazel, it's the presence of a new (and very cute) boy at her peer support group.
Now Hazel is poised for The Refusal of the Call. The refusal illustrates the main character's reluctance to Cross the Threshold (often the next step.) For Hazel, her reluctance comes from a wish to protect the rest of the world from experiencing too much loss when she dies. In fact, she calls herself a "grenade" that will explode and injure anyone who cares about her.
Sometimes, between the call and the cross, the main character Meets the Mentor. In Fault in Our Stars, one might make the argument that the writer Hazel Grace admires is a sort of anti-mentor. He's rather the opposite of wise or guiding but his presence is something Hazel collides against oer and over along her journey. It's ultimately this character that provides Green with a device for the ending.
The meat of any story revolves around the Tests, Allies and Enemies. Writers often employ the rule of three when constructing the challenges their characters face. So the first challenge is often something less intense than the third will be. This ratchet's up the tension for the reader. For Hazel, her three challenges include:
1. A health setback
2. She meets the mentor and he's a complete disappointment
3. Her boyfriend's cancer returns
The Abyss is when our hero has hit rock bottom and, the reader wonders how they can ever recover. For Hazel, this is when her boyfriend dies.
Last, the main character must travel The Road Back. Now Hazel must recover from the abyss. She does this by seeking out her boyfriends las message to her...which he cleverly left with the mentor.
So when I originally began studying The Hero's Journey, it frustrated me to think that every story could be reduced to the same structure.
Now, I really like the way that The Hero's Journey can help me assemble the scenes in my novels to make sure that all of the elements are present and in the right order. Have you used The Hero's Journey? Has it helped you in constructing plot?