Monday, November 16, 2009

Approach to the Inmost Cave

The most dangerous spot in your hero's world is the Inmost Cave. When the hero enters that place, he will cross the second major threshold. This is an opportunity to stop, prepare, plan and outwit the villian's guards, which is known as the Approach.

This is the heart of the Special World, between the border and the center of the Hero's Journey.
The hero may find other Threshold Guardians, tests, allies and enemies. Now is the time to make final preparations for the central ordeal of the adventure. *Just a reminder of what a Threshold Guardian is: these are powerful figures who raise the banner of fear and doubt, questioning the hero's worthiness. Their purpose is to block the Hero from the adventure.*

Some heroes may develop a romance here. Some boldly stride up to the castle door and demand to be let in. Some sneak in the back way. But the hero needs to beware of obstacles, illusions, guardians, warnings and "impossible" tests. They may enter another special world.

Here is the time to raise the stakes, add complications, build conflict and tension and have time to step back and reorganize. The hero is facing internal challenges as well as external.

The Inmost Cave can be physical or emotional.

There's a lot to think about here. We have to remember this part of our story can be so very different from other stories. It's a large part of the Adventure. What do you think about this part of the Journey? How are you handling it?


  1. This is the point in my story where the stakes are set, the tests past, the tensions alive, and the heroine as ready as is humanly possible :)

    For me it is physical while she goes to the Dragon Hunter's lair. Her emotional inmost cave is when she thinks that she might fail and Clyde might die.

    Do you think we need both a physical and a emotional inmost cave?

  2. In my WIP this must be an internal moment. I haven't really though about the story in this way before. There is a point when Annay has to make a choice, when she has to decide if she is up to the challenge. The stakes outside are getting higher which force her to choose, but she has to believe in herself before she can risk her friends.

  3. Danielle, I think a physical cave causes an emotional response, so we really can't get away from an emotional cave that way.

    Emotional caves don't always require physical ones.

    Doug, it's always good to look at our stories in a different way. I think it adds depth.

    To me, this part of the Hero's Journey is a little confusing because it can look like so many different things. And I'm wondering if there can be more than one cave. What we need to remember is we can take these parts of the Journey and tweak them, depending on what our story needs.

    I've been thinking over my WIP and can't exactly pinpoint Akeela's Inmost Cave, unless it's when she makes the decision to leave the safety of the dwarf settlement and go out to face the Dark Lord. I'll have to ponder this a little more.

    I certainly have enough Threshold Guardians because Akeela is thwarted every time she turns around. And she keeps on pushing forward with the help of her friends and her faith.

  4. In most of my books I have trouble discerning the inmost cave from the weakest point. The weakest point is when they have their darkest moment. I think the inmost cave could be that, but is usually the approach to the villain.

    I . . . think :)

    I also think the villain should have an inmost cave moment.

  5. I actually have more than one "inmost" cave moment. The first is really a progression of incidents that shape what you think of the main characters and whether or not you like them. This is not to be confused with the general happenings. The inmost of the inmost caves :) would have to be when the people of Elenath realize that the battle they've been avoiding for so long will eventually (and soon) overtake them and that they have to do something about it.
    As for a darkest moment, I agree that each character (at least the main ones) should have a point where they have failed utterly or they don't know what to do.
    Gwaeron's darkest moment is one of high emotion and rebellion. Though she does not go through with her threats, I show the reader just how desperate both she and the rest of the country are. :) I love inmost caves!

  6. Well, since my inmost cave is literally "a cave," um... I guess that says it all, eh? LOL!

  7. An actual cave? That's great! I actually have to think my inmost cave over more. It is a very important part. Hmm.

  8. My characters hate being underground... they will die, actually, if kept out of the sun too long. So when she approaches the cave, she is absolutely horrified and has to work up the nerve to go in.

  9. I'm thinking I need to read your book someday :)

    In that light, though, I guess one of my inmost caves is when a girl who is half human half um...humanlike is forced onto her original planet. She tries to save her people, but being half human she can't breathe right. When the air gets even weirder toward the evil person's lair is probably the inmost cave.

    Lol, you can see this is a new idea -- haven't completely thought it out :)

  10. I truly hope you can, Danielle! I'm working on my third draft, and hoping desperately to be done by Christmas so I can give my parents the manuscript, wrapped in red bow! Then I'm hoping I can start querying agents next year. I've been working on this puppy for nearly 3 years... I think it's time!

    Your idea sounds awesome, by the way.

  11. Thank you!! I'm also working on a "Christmas Present" project for my little sister, Sara. Her birthday's in January, though, so I might aim for that instead :)

  12. How old is she? How cool is that?

    I'm thinking I may have to start writing books for my son, who is seven but reading at a much higher level. There doesn't seem to be much fiction appropriate for young boys, (that isn't full of monsters, demons or vampires, that is) although there's a lot for girls.

  13. Christine ~ you are right about books for boys. There's aren't enough. However, most publishing houses hesitate to put them out because they say boys don't read. But they will read if the story engages them! It's frustrating.

    Reading everyone's comments makes me realize we all have the wrong idea of what the Inmost Cave is. That's why it's confusing. It's not the Black Moment or Climax of the story. We'll be talking about that next week.

    I think it has the wrong name. That's why we're getting it mixed up. But it's been an interesting discussion! I'm sorry I haven't been able to keep up. It's been a hectic week. Thanks everyone, for your participation!

  14. I know what it is, Pam, but didn't feel like getting into all the complexities of my plot, especially if I hope to get published some day. I think I've been blogging a little too much, "spilling the beans" about my story.

    The cave that my heroine must enter is a physical cave. But it is also the separation between the world she has known, and a totally unknown and threatening world. She is following someone, and knows she has to keep going, but doesn't want to. It really takes a strong desire to do the right thing for her to step inside.

    Once in, things really start getting complicated and confusing. She bitterly regrets her choice at one point, later, when the true darkest moment arrives.

  15. I thought inmost cave meant the time where the heroine/hero faces their darkest moment or their darkest side.

    Christine: My sister is ten, soon to be eleven. We have a tight bond, and I'm really excited about giving it to her. It about a girl names Jane who gets wound up in saving a young dragon's family. Through many trials in the form of Dragon Hunters, rival dragons, and mean driads, Jane finally meets up with the only one who can save the dragon's family.

    Unfortunately, this person has a high price.

    I've had a ton of fun with this book. My first one in first person. So much fun!!

    Back to the inmost cave: It's when they start to think about turning back? Don't they sometimes to that at the beginning?

  16. The boys I know seem to like books that are 90% battles and action and 10% getting ready for MORE battles and action.

    Lol, poor guys were kind enough to read one of my ideas about unicorns a year or two back. Wonder what they really thought about it... :)

  17. My son is only seven, Danielle, so he loves funny things like the Geronimo Stilton books. And he's very "intellectual" so he's memorized every character and vehicle and which world they are from, what language they speak, which character pilots which vehicle, etc. from Star Wars.

    I used to like Star Wars. LOL!

  18. By the way, I just want to invite everyone to my new blog, The Writer's Hole. As in, that hole you feel like crawling into sometimes! A place to be encouraged, and to encourage others. Please come and visit! Thanks!

  19. P.S. I think it's still showing up on Blogger as "Christine's Cottage." Not sure about that. I changed the blog title, but not the address.

  20. I love Star Wars!!

  21. Hmmmm ... I tried going on Christine's Cottage and Blogger told me they couldn't find it. I'll try again and let you know.

    And I know what you mean about blogging too much with regards to your WIP. We do have to be careful. We want to create interest, but not give anything away.

    I'm reading through what Danielle has so far with her story about Jane and the dragons. It's very good. Danielle is one of our teen bloggers!

    I love Star Wars, too. And Star Trek. Am waiting now for the new movie to come in the mail from Blockbuster. Wheeeeee!!!