So far we’ve learned about The Hero’s Journey, which is the classic process of telling our story within the framework of a novel. In earlier posts we’ve also seen how to employ the first two steps of the Hero’s Journey, Ordinary World and The Call to Adventure. As we continue following Luke Skywalker of Star Wars, we’ve watched the Hero’s Journey in practical application. Today, we’re putting step three, Refusal of the Call, to use in moving our story along.
As Luke is cleaning the droids R2D2 and 3CPO, a holographic message from Princess Leia appears. Something exciting has happened and Luke wants to see it where it leads so he seeks out the recipient of the message, Obi Wan Kinobe. The two soon meet and Luke tells him about the holograph. Obi Wan understands Leia’s communication and tells the young Luke it is the boy himself who must follow the path of the Jedi to assist the Princess. Luke, as we all know, finds ample excuses not to go on this adventure. Suddenly, his uncle needs him, his farm work is pressing, and so on. In every story there is a reason not to accept the challenge.
It’s easy to see Luke is reluctant to answer Obi Wan’s call but so, what? What purpose does The Refusal of the Call hold in your story? You’ll hear many answers to that question but I see it as our opportunity to prove our hero’s humanity, to help your reader identify with him. It shows how he, just like everyone, is fearful and pulls away from the unknown. Fear, a sense of inadequacy or the comfort of the Ordinary World keeps hold of our hero and forces him to turn away from his calling. This is something each of your readers has probably done in their own life for we all of shy from things unfamiliar. So must your hero.
Okay, you’ve got your hero in his nice, comfortable Ordinary World and he hears the door-knock of Adventure. Your readers sympathize with your hero’s unsteady feet and then… Uh, Now what?
Next comes another of my favorite steps of storytelling, Meeting with the Mentor. After all your hero’s already said he’s not going to jump off the cliff. So someone’s got to push him, don’t they?
Okay, continue watching Star Wars and see if you can determine when Luke meets his mentor. Here’s a clue! The Hero’s Journey doesn’t always happen in order.
Until my next posting, good writing.