Why your Book should follow The Hero’s Journey

The hero's journey is one of the most well-known plots. Although it has been around since the very beginning of story-telling, it wasn't given an official name until Joseph Campbell. His rendition, made famous with his book, 'The Hero with a Thousand Faces' described seventeen stages every myth travels through.

The version used today, however, has been simplified and converted to fit almost every work of fiction.


What is the Hero's Journey?

The Hero's Journey outlines eight specific phases your main character goes through:

  1. Ordinary Life
  2. Call to Adventure
  3. Training from the Mentor
  4. Separation from Purpose and/or Mentor
  5. Lowest Point
  6. Returns with new purpose
  7. Achieves Objective
  8. Returns Changed

In a traditional novel, the character progresses through all eight stages and transitions from an ordinary person to the hero.


The Hero's Journey Is a Necessary Part of the Novel Writing Process

Certain story tropes survive the test of time because they work. The heroes journey can be seen in Star Wars, Harry Potter- and even in ancient myths. People enjoy reading the story of a hero. They want to witness an ordinary person overcome insurmountable odds and return changed. These stories are enjoyable to read, and they give your reader a deeper connection to the characters.

The best part is that this process doesn't have to be cliche. There are ways to embrace the expected tropes without making your story predictable. (Consider Ulrik in Magic Made. Even though he teaches Cole to use the magic, he doesn't follow the traditional mentor role.) Embrace and alter the elements of the hero's journey to fit the needs of your story. Consider the decisions and trials that will affect your characters, and align your story with this process- it will make your book more endearing and enjoyable to your readers.


Keep on Writing!

Ashley Hayes

How to develop Believable, Three Dimensional Characters

Character Development.

That one word can make or break your writing. Powerful, believable characters can carry a story and excite readers. Unfortunately, bland, confusing, or contradictory characters can destroy your story entirely. Just one quick search on Google will give you plenty of character questionnaires or forms to fill out, all promising to help you discover your character. Unfortunately, no matter how well you know your character's eye or hair color, you still need to ask yourself the difficult questions: how does your character react in a crisis? What motivates them most? And what lengths will they go to in order to succeed?

The hardest part, though, isn't answering those questions: it's making sure that every decision, action, and motivation aligns with who your character is.

To create believable characters, try using a personality test.


Just like real life, characters are predictable. Good characters-the kinds that make strong stories' have realistic motivations, goals, and behaviors.

Luckily, psychologists have been able to map certain personalities. These personalities often work for real people, and they will work for your characters too.

My favorite personality test is the Myers-Briggs test. This test describes 16 different personalities. The test is free, and offers an in-depth description of each personality.

So what characters are you working on? Take the test, and answer the questions the way you think your character would. Figure out more about them, and add the small quirks you find into your writing. All of these small details will help you create a believable, three-dimensional character that your readers will fall in love with.


Keep on Writing!

Ashley Hayes

How to Brainstorm your next Book in 3 Easy Steps

Hi Guys!

I'm super excited today because I'm kicking off this blog with the three step method I've used to write all my books so far (for those of you who are wondering, it's currently four-and counting!). I like to be spontaneous in my writing, so I don't plan out to much ahead of time. However I've also found that when I don't know where my story is headed, I can get frustrated and experience extreme writers block- NOT a fun thing when you're trying to find out how your story ends.

If that sounds like you, then I highly recommend the Snowflake Method. Randy Ingermanson talks about it a lot here. Today, though, I'm going to go over a simplified version that I always use when planning my next book.


The Snowflake Method: Explained

The snowflake method compares brainstorming to...you guessed it-a snowflake. Instead of planning from the beginning to end it recommends working from the top, basic ideas, to the deep, detailed mechanisms of your story.

The three steps are straightforward:

  1. Write a one-sentence overview of your entire book.
  2. Using that sentence, create five sentences that cover your whole story from beginning to end.
  3. Everything that you write between sentence one and two will be the first fourth of your book, two and Three are the second quarter, and so on.

This method works because it is EASY. The planning process is simple to follow, and my favorite part is that it still allows you to be spontaneous as your story develops. As you write, your story will continue to grow and develop. This just gives you a road map to guide you towards the ending.


1. Write a one-sentence overview of your entire book.

Simple... or maybe not. Writing your first sentence can be deceivingly difficult, so I made this basic formula that I follow:

The Character Discovers A and Decides to do B. 

For those of you who have read my first book, Magic Made, my first sentence read: A lonely orphan discovers he has magic and decides to save his world. This is...a very over simplified description of quite a few MG/YA books. It did, however, give me a good starting point.


2. Using that sentence, create five sentences that cover your whole story from beginning to end.

Five sentences should be easy, right? If you're an over-thinker like me, don't feel bad. Again, you aren't expected to know the entire story upfront. To help with this part, I try to follow the hero's journey (which I'll talk more about later). Basically,

  • The hero is living an everyday life.
  • Something is discovered (A) that forces the hero to change.
  • The hero begins to work towards the climax.
  • Finally, the hero decides to do something (B)
  • The hero wins and lives happily ever after.

Once again, don't feel bad if you change this- you should change your ideas as your book progresses and you get to understand your characters better.


3. Create Quarters

This is the easy part! Before you begin writing, take your sentences and use them as guides for your story. Sentences 1-2 are quarter 1, 2-3 become quarter 2, 3-4 become quarter 3, and 4-5 become quarter 4. Each quarter is roughly around the same length, so if you're math-minded, that's around 16000 words for a YA novel.

That's a tangible goal that you can work towards, while still developing and creating a story. Plus, each time you finish a quarter, you feel a little more accomplished and successful, because you know you are getting closer to your goal.


Now Start Writing!

Take the time right now to create your own snowflake plan. Even if you've already started writing, this process can help you outline and come up with a plan for the rest of your story. It's quick easy, and so, so helpful.

Best of luck, and feel free to comment!


Keep on Writing,

Ashley Hayes