When George Lucas started to pen the screenplay for Star Wars he had visions of a sweeping galactic tale. After two long drafts, he still had trouble focusing on a story. He revisited Joseph Cambell's Hero's Journey that plotted common elements of myth and legend in his book A Hero With a Thousand Faces.
A with that framework he was able to craft Episode 4: A New Hope. Nancy Duarte plots out A New Hope according to the Hero's Journey in her book Resonate.
Ordinary World – Life as it is.
We meet Luke, a farm boy on the desert planet of Tantooine. Luke looks to the skies and dreams of adventure.
Call to Adventure – The protagonist is called to action, to create change.
Luke buys R2D2 and watches a hologram of a beautiful princess crying for help. (Ewww, it’s his sister!)
Refusal of the Call – Clinging to the status quo.
Luke whines, “I can’t,” when Obi-wan asks Luke to join him.
Meet the Mentor – A mentor challenges our hero.
Obi-wan gives Luke his father’s light saber and tells him about the Jedi knights.
Cross the Threshold – Ready for change.
Luke’s Uncle and Aunt are killed by stormtroopers. No reason to stay on this sandy planet.
Test, Allies & Enemies – The building of your team. Meeting the enemy.
Luke and Obi-wan hire Han and Chewie. They have to evade stormtroopers to leave the planet.
Approach the Innermost Cave – Personal growth.
On board the Falcon, Obi-wan teaches Luke about the Force. (“I don’t need no hokey religions or ancient weapons,” says Han.) They approach something that isn’t a moon.
Ordeal – Our heroes face a challenge.
The boys dress as stormtroopers and rescue the princess.
Reward (Seizing the Sword) – The team comes together.
Only by working together can Luke, Han, Chewie and the princess escape the garbage chute.
The Road Back – More obstacles.
They evade more stormtroopers, Obi-wan fights Darth Vader, sacrificing himself to create a distraction so the others can escape.
Resurrection – Final attempt at big change.
As Luke flies his X-wing towards the Death Star, he hears Obi-wan’s voice telling him to use the Force, and take the lucky shot that destroys the Death Star.
The Return – Returning to a new reality.
The princess gives the boys medals of honor. Peace.
Try using the Hero’s Journey when you’re writing a pitch or a profile for a sense of drama that leaves people wanting to hear more.
Happy Star Wars Day! And Happy Writing!
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