It’s been a while since I’ve done a post specifically about writing, and since a friend of mine has begun work on his own novel, I thought it would be a good time to give a little more advice. Today, I’m going to map out the journey your protagonist is planned to go on. This is a general guideline, and is by no means meant to be the be all and end all, just a guideline where you can gain some inspiration. That’s one of the great things about writing, you can break the rules!
Alright, so the first step in the journey isn’t really a step for our hero at all. And like I said before, it can be broken, but usually in the beginning the hero will encounter some sort of messenger, whether that be a person, a vision, or anything that foreshadows or gives the hero a low-down of what’s going on. In the Pilgrim’s Progress, this is the Evangelist of the story.
Step two is where the hero begins to unravel to the problem ahead. This step presents the main problem our hero must face. It’s the main plot introduction, which leads onto the next step: The Decision.
This is where the hero needs to make his decision. To solve whatever problem is facing him (or the town he’s in), or to run away. Obviously, unless your hero is a stubborn coward (like mine are sometimes!), you’ll no doubt let your hero decide to solve the problem presented.
Nest up the challenge is presented. This is where the hero realizes what he has to do to stop the problem. This usually happens multiple times in the novel, because there are many challenges in the way which must be overcome in order to solve the main problem. Once your hero has made the decision to go, there’s no turning back, unless of course you want to take the next step: the Refusal.
A realistic hero will always debate with some sort of refusal or hesitation. He’ll probably think, “Uh uh, there’s no way I’m doing that. You can just forget it.” Sound familiar? A lot of novels use this step to give their hero some solid ground in reality to stand upon. Unless of course your hero is a superhero, and even then, refusal is a valuable tool.
Once your hero has gotten over the refusal stage (sometimes with some help from another character), we then get on to the exciting bit: taking the first step. This is the first real step your hero takes on his journey. This is where he leaves the comfort of his own home, whether it be literal of metaphorical, and sets off on the dangerous journey. For example, this is where Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress begins the journey to the Celestial City.
Somewhere along the line though, your hero is going to have some trouble, and this is where the next step comes in: The helper. This is where the second character takes place to fight along side your hero, whether for that one scene, or for the remainder of the story.
Now we’re getting to the final steps. This is where the hero begins to really ware out. After facing so many challenges, your hero should be at his lowest. Worn out and defeated. And after a quick revelation, maybe from the aforementioned helper or another sign, we get on to the next step: The Rise.
This is where the hero rises again, regroups, and leads them into the final battle with the main foe.
The next step is pretty obvious: The Showdown. Obviously, you’ll already know what that is, the glorious (or sometimes not so glorious) final battle. It’s where your hero will either live or die.
If your hero survives the fight, and the foe is defeated, you will then move on to the final step: The Resolution. Everyone celebrates and crowns the hero with honor. This is the happy ending to your story.
So I hope this has helped. Like I said before, it’s just a guideline, and is not meant to be the final say in your novel. But all good novels have at least two of three of these steps, so have fun with it! And to my newest novelist, I hope this gives you some inspiration for your own novel. You’ve just begun one of the greatest adventures you’ll ever take, and like the heroes in the Christian movies always say, God speed!