hero's journey the ordeal
Writing craft

Stage VIII: The Ordeal

Many writers struggle with Act 2 – mostly because the biggest trap of it is to make it just a series of equally important ups and downs. Just the Approach and no other structure. But the Approach leads to something and no, this is not yet the story’s climax.

Why? Because the Hero has not yet learned The Lesson (you know, the main one). They may have gained a few new skills but they are still the same person that has left the Ordinary World. They still lack what they lacked before, they still persist in their old (false) beliefs and their need has not been fulfilled.

Through Approach to the Inmost cave, they have come to face the greatest challenge – this is not the climax of the story but its greatest CRISIS.

It is time for things to get as dark as they possibly can – it’s time for the “all is lost” and “dark night of the soul” beats (for my Save the Cat friends).

The Ordeal marks the Hero’s brush with death – be it literal or metaphorical (this will of course depend on your story’s genre and style). One thing is certain – this is the event that will change your Hero forever. After this, the Hero will not be the same person.

The most important thing here?

Do not, I repeat, do not be afraid to make things really really bad. Horrible. Absolutely awful. You get it. Make your character face death, literally or figuratively. The most common structural weakness of the Ordeal is when writers don’t go hard enough on their characters. This is truly the moment to unleash all of your inner sadistic tendencies ๐Ÿ˜‰

Before you goโ€ฆ

Thank you for being here ๐Ÿ–ค

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See you next week for the next stage of the Heroโ€™s Journey!

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