Monday, October 19, 2009

Crossing the First Threshold

This happens when the hero finally says yes to the quest and fully enters the Special World of the story for the first time. He agrees to face whatever needs facing with the problem or challenge of the Call to Adventure. This is where your story takes off. You've set up the Ordinary World and introduced the main character, mentor and other important characters.

This doesn't mean your hero can't turn back. At this point, they can. But there's no reason to right now. The hero often feels condfident and ready to tackle anything.

How are you handling this part of your story? Are you leaving the reader feeling as confident as the hero or have you written in some kind of menacing threat, ever so slightly?


  1. Danielle

    Hmm. I guess it depends on the story. In WIA Jane is desperate to save the Woody Valley and Clyde. I'm not sure if she's confident, but she's pretty determined!

    In other WIP, though, it really does differ. In my books, I notice three different roads my heroes tend to choose at this point:

    A: Dedicate themselves, be brave, be confident!

    B: Oh help I'm still a rookie (then they get a kick from the mentor and are sent crawling forward)

    C: No other choice, and I'm scared witless. I'm doing it. I have to.

  2. Danielle

    The first task Jane has to face in WIA is the troll. I'll work on making her a bigger part in that scene.

  3. In The Keepers of Elenath, there is more than one quest that takes place. The tricky part (for me at least) is juggling all of them. Gwaeron's entire life is a quest; but she doesn't realize that she is on a quest. Her quest, at the moment, is learning. Others, later, go on quests.
    But how do we approach these quests?
    One way is not letting your character know that they're actually on a quest. They might be doing something trivial and everyday but something that they'll need later and will come full circle.
    Two, they actually have a heart for their country and go and try to right the wrongs.
    Three) they are forced and or have no choice.
    Usually, the discussed mentor will accompany them or begin the quest (part. ex. Gandalf in LOTR)
    Or, at times, they will have to go alone.
    Have fun! Don't let this quest hamper the whole book. If you have no quest, rethink your book. Not that every book needs a quest . . .

  4. In my story, the heroine, after being held back by her family and her obligations, is finally able to do something heroic and she's feeling pretty cocky as she sets off.

  5. The way I see it is that sometimes the hero is willing to go on the quest and sometimes they are thrust into it. Danielle has a good point in her observations as to why her heroine goes on the quest. And the hero can switch back and forth. Yes, I'll go. No, I've changed my mind. But in the end, they get with the program, although there are obstacles to overcome and doubts to conquer.

    Amanda, I have to disagree about some books not needing a quest. What's the point of the story? If there is nothing to gain or learn, what does the protagonist do? It would be a boring story, indeed, without something to strive for.

    In my WIP, Akeela knows what she's been chosen to do and she's somewhat willing, but the actions of the antagonist force her into getting started before she is ready. Which increases tension. It also reveals some of her character and begins her character arc (something we'll talk about later.)

    Christine, I love it when the heroine feels too confident because you know a fall is coming. How she picks herself back up is what makes us love or hate her.

    Remember, every story doesn't have to include every step in The Hero's Journey. And they don't have to go in complete order. This is a guideline, which works for all the best movies and books, so it's not a bad thing for us to learn it, tweak it and make it our own.

  6. Most of my story is about getting ready to go on the quest. In the middle of the book she goes of on the first quest. She succeeds, but messes up in the process. The rest of the book is her getting to the point she can go back and finish the job.

  7. Danielle

    The above sounds like an interesting plot. What age are you writing for? If for teens I would suggest her "messing up" involve a character either getting killed or captured to give them a good reason to keep reading.

  8. I'm wondering if Doug should take so long getting his heroine going - half the story is getting ready for the quest. I don't know. It depends on how he handles it, I guess.

    How does everyone handle this? In Fairyeater, Akeela is contronted with a change in her life in chapter one. She learns about the quest a couple of chapters later (I also write in the antagonist's POV, so some chapters are taken up with that). She gets on the road in chapter 10. I have 22 chapters in the first part of the book. The second part will probably have about 15 chapters and the third part about 10. It's quite an epic!

  9. Danielle

    I'm not sure if in Destiny's Warrior if I should spend MORE time in the ordinary world. She's outa Earth by chapter two, and into her adventure by chapter fourish. She actually hears the calling in the first chapter. Hmm....

    Any advice?

  10. My story is not really a typical fantasy story. It is more of a story of finding inner strength, which happens to be in a fantasy setting. It's not epic at all.

    I'm writing it for an older audience. It deals with grief and self doubt. There is also a secondary story where a second character is dealing with the question, where is God when bad things are happening.

  11. Thanks for the explanation, Doug. I see why you need your heroine to prepare for so long. It sounds interesting.

    I sure can relate to your theme, as most people will. There are so many days when I wonder where my inner strength went!

  12. In my WIP my character has just crossed the First Threshold. She feels excited and free because she doesn't understand the risk. Yet.

  13. That's excellent, Rebekah. The reader will know the risk, of course, but the heroine won't. This adds tension and keeps the reader reading so they can see what happens.