The Road of Trials
If you’re an Episode writer, Campbell’s “Road of Trials” is such a great coding opportunity. It’s a place for mini-games, key choices, and relationships development. Even if you aren’t an Episode writer, this part of your story is incredibly significant in the development of your story.
Test is a Four-Letter Word
Few people like tests. We don’t like to risk showing others that we are a failure. Isn’t that what tests do? Not exactly. Really, a test is an opportunity to show what you’ve learned, and where you still need to grow. Sadly, we don’t often view them this way. We don’t look at failing a test as a sign we still have more to learn, but instead, see it as proof that we are or aren’t good enough.
As your hero goes on their journey, they too will be tested. There are tasks and temptations they must face to become the hero they need to be. In Harry Potter, he had to collect Horcruxes and destroy them. Dorothy had to get the witch’s broom and take it back to the Wizard of Oz. These tests are never easy and often require your hero to give up something important to them or face something they don’t want to face.
Some more examples of trials include:
- Fighting dangerous enemies
- Passing thorugh perilous lands
- Avoiding being caught
- Giving up something such as a toxic friendship or personal item of value
Personally, as a teacher, I love a good journey where the hero fails a test the first time. It’s more realistic. When we are forced to use new skills, we often fail at first, but it’s this failure that teaches us something. We learn something about ourselves and use that lesson to grow and develop.
Consider these examples:
Romance: I couldn’t believe Sara was throwing herself at me like this. Sure we’d hooked up in the past, but she knew I was with Julia now. She knew I was trying to change, but how could I resist when she was looking at me with those doe eyes?
Fantasy: Just one scale. I only need one scale, I thought to myself. Surely the dragon wouldn’t wake up if I just took one?
Campbell describes the “medicine man” as another source of help for your hero. This person provides the hero with something they need to pass their test, or at least pass it more easily. This can be the same person who offered supernatural aid previously, a god, or even a representative of the mythical world.
In our romance example, the “medicine man” may be a therapist who has encouraged him to let go of relationships that are only physical or a teacher who has encouraged him to consider his actions carefully.
In our fantasy example, this person may be a literal medicine man who gave the hero a potion that can be used to keep the dragon asleep.
Remember, the aid that is offered is often highly symbolic. The aid may represent something like “self-control” or “bravery”. Consider these symbols as you write. Sure your hero may be using a wand, but does that wand represent power or the ability to express emotions? Knowing what your symbols mean will not only make for better writing but will also help you avoid sending unintended messages to your readers.
Want to continue along with this series on writing your own hero’s journey? Be sure to follow Storic to get updates when we post. As always, happy writing!