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12 Steps to Epic Storytelling with AI
5 min

12 Steps to Epic Storytelling with AI

Nov 2
5 min

The Hero’s Journey Recipe 4.0 📖

12 Stages of Character & Story Arc Development

Credit to Joseph Campbell, Author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Run the Recipe Below

Produced by: GenAIUniversity.com


In 1949, mythologist Joseph Campbell published The Hero With a Thousand Faces, which outlines the structure of the journeys that archetypal heroes experience in world myths.

This structure became known as the monomyth, or Hero’s Journey, and has since served as the framework behind many popular speculative fiction books and films, including Star Wars, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and The Lord of the Rings.

The goal of this outline is to create a sense of relatability in the hero’s story. The hero should act as a beacon of hope because of his struggles, and the transformation of the hero is what makes the story inspiring for others on a similar path.

PRO TIP: The Hero’s Journey doubles as a framework for non-fiction authors, marketers, and business owners to better understand their readers and customers. In turn, this understanding helps the author or brand communicate their message more effectively by adding clarity to where their audience is now and where they want to be.

AI-Powered Character Development Using The Hero's Journey Framework

Here’s a layout of each stage of The Hero’s Journey with a description for your reference. When downloading the recipe into your account, you can do a quick search for pronouns and [Character] and adjust them to line up with your character.

  1. Ordinary World Before the present tale begins, our Hero is in his own world, oblivious to what’s ahead. It’s a safe place for him. This establishes our Hero as a human, just like you and me, and makes it easier for us to connect with him and therefore empathize with his problems.
  2. Call To Adventure The protagonist’s journey begins when he or she is called to action, such as receiving a direct danger to his or her safety, family, lifestyle, or community. It may not be as dramatic as a gunshot, but it might be just as life-changing.
  3. Refusal Of The Call Denying the call maybe because of his fear that he will not be able to complete it. Second thoughts or even deep personal concerns about whether or not he is capable of performing the task. When this happens, the Hero refuses the offer and, as a result, suffers in some manner. The problem he faces may appear to be too difficult and the potential loss too great if he fails.
  4. Meeting The Mentor figure provides the Hero with something he needs at this crucial turning point when the Hero is in need of guidance. He might be given a valuable object, knowledge of the problem he’s facing, sound advice, hands-on training, or even self-confidence. Whatever the mentor gives him helps to dispel his concerns and fears while also encouraging him to continue his journey.
  5. Crossing The Threshold The Hero is now prepared to act on his call to adventure and start his quest, whether it be physical, spiritual, or emotional in nature. He might go of his own accord or be forced to do so, but at last, he will cross the barrier that separates him from the world he knows. It might be leaving home for the first time in an epic journey, or it could be an internal one where he’s forced to face his inner demons.
  6. Tests, Allies, Enemies The Hero is now thrust out of his comfort zone, with a more difficult series of obstacles put in his path to test him in a variety of ways. Obstacles are strewn across the Hero’s route, whether they be physical impediments or persons intent on preventing him from reaching his objective. The Hero must figure out who can be trusted and who cannot. He may come across friends and confrontations with adversaries that will, in their own ways, help him prepare for the greater challenges ahead. This is where his abilities and skills are put to the test, and every obstacle he faces helps us better understand his personality as well as connect with him on a deeper level.
  7. Approach To The Inmost Cave The inside cave might represent a variety of things in the Hero’s tale, including a real-life location with a deadly peril or an internal debate the Hero has yet to confront. As the Hero approaches the cave, he must make final arrangements before leaping into the vast unknown. At the threshold to the inner cave, the Hero may once again confront some of his initial concerns and fears. To gain the bravery to continue, he may need to take some time to reflect on his trip and the hazardous road ahead. This brief repose heightens tension in anticipation of the Hero’s ultimate trial by allowing us to comprehend how significant it is.
  8. The Ordeal The Supreme Ordeal is a perilous physical trial or a profound inner conflict that the Hero must overcome in order to survive or for the world in which he lives to continue to exist. Whether it’s defeating his most terrible adversary or his deepest dread, the Hero must utilize all of his abilities and experiences gathered on the journey to the inner cave in order to succeed. The Hero is reborn through death, which is metaphorically likened to a literal resurrection that gives him new power or knowledge sufficient to complete his mission or reach the conclusion of his quest. This is when everything the Hero values most hang in the balance. He will either perish or life as he knows it will never be the same again if he fails.
  9. The Reward The Hero, after overcoming the enemy, surviving death, and finally conquering his greatest personal challenge, is ultimately changed into a new condition as a result of the battle. The Reward may take many forms: an important or powerful object, secret knowledge or wisdom increase, or even reconciliation with a loved one or companion. Whatever the treasure is that will help him complete his journey, the Hero is now in a better position to do so than before.
  10. The Road Back This is the last part of the Hero’s journey. In this section, he has to go back home with his reward. Now, instead of being afraid, he will be hoping for acclaim and vindication. He might have to do one more thing before going back into the Ordinary World.
  11. Resurrection This is the climax, in which the Hero will have his last and most hazardous confrontation with death. The Hero’s final contest is about more than his own existence, with the outcome having significant implications for his Ordinary World and those he leaves behind. Others will suffer if he fails, adding to the burden on his shoulders and compelling the audience to feel involved in the struggle as well. The Hero will ultimately succeed, defeat his opponent, and emerge from the conflict with the prize he set out to win.
  12. The Return The final stage in the Hero’s journey is his return to his Ordinary World as a transformed person. He will have developed as a person, acquired many new skills, encountered many terrible challenges, and even faced death during his quest. However, he looks forward to beginning a fresh existence at home. His return might provide renewed optimism for those he left behind and faith for those who have continued to believe in him.

The ultimate prize that he receives may be literal or figurative. It might be a cause for celebration, self-awareness, or the end of the conflict, but whatever it is, it represents three things: change, success, and proof of his journey. The Hero’s doubters will be ostracized; his foes chastised; his allies rewarded. His rewards may be material, they may take the form of a new prize or status, or he might even experience a spiritual change that was unknown to him before his journey began.



[Hero] = Alex

[World] = Small town in the 1980s

[Goal] = Become a famous musician

[Call] = Gets opportunity to audition for a talent competition

[Mentor] = High school music teacher

[Threshold] = Taking a bus to the big city audition

[Tests] = Facing rejection, struggling to make ends meet

[Ordeal] = Being cheated by a manager, losing all money

[Reward] = Meeting kind strangers who believe in her talent

[Return] = Coming home more mature and committed to music


[Hero]: Indie filmmakers and YouTubers on a budget

[World]: The VFX licensing industry is expensive and time-consuming to navigate as a small creator. Most options are pay-per-effect.

[Goal]: Save money and time acquiring VFX without sacrificing quality.

[Call]: Can't afford high VFX costs for their productions or waste time assembling effects individually.

[Mentor]: VFX licensing company's educational content and value proposition positions subscription offer as solution.

[Threshold]: Signing up for a free trial of the VFX subscription.

[Tests]: Learning to navigate the platform interface and VFX library. Figuring out workflow.

[Ordeal]: Integrating subscribed VFX into their production pipelines has some technical challenges.

[Reward]: Huge library of VFX readily available speeds up productions significantly and reduces costs.

[Return]: Completing more high quality productions on budget and on time. Scaling productions.

Here is a "fill in the blank" template for the hero's journey content brief with prompts:

[Content Brief]=

[Hero]: The name of your hero character.

[World]: Describe the ordinary world where your story begins. What time period or location?

[Goal]: What is your hero trying to achieve or become? What is their ambition?

[Call]: What event or challenge disrupts your hero's ordinary world and compels them to start their journey?

[Mentor]: Who is the mentor figure who prepares your hero for the journey ahead?

[Threshold]: What threshold does your hero cross to enter the new world or start their real adventure?

[Tests]: What kinds of tests and trials will your hero face? Who are their allies and enemies?

[Ordeal]: What supreme ordeal does your hero face? Their ultimate test.

[Reward]: What reward does the hero gain that transforms them? An object, knowledge, wisdom?

[Return]: How is the hero transformed when they return with this reward?


// Define commands intro =>"Introduce the hero in their ordinary world before the journey begins. Describe their homeland, daily life, personality, goals and struggles."

call =>"Describe the call to adventure that disrupts the hero's ordinary world and compels them to embark on a journey. What is the inciting incident and source of the hero's pain or unrest?"

refuse =>"Explain why the hero initially refuses the call to adventure. What doubts, fears or obligations hold them back?"

mentor =>"Introduce the mentor figure who helps prepare the hero for the journey ahead. Why does the mentor help the hero and what gifts or advice do they provide?"

threshold =>"Describe the hero crossing the threshold into the unknown world of adventure. How do they cross and what is this new world like?"

tests =>"Outline the tests, allies gained and enemies faced as the hero navigates the new world and gains skills. How do these tests help the hero grow?"

approach =>"Describe the hero's initial strategy to tackle the central conflict and the setbacks faced. What do they struggle with internally, externally and philosophically?"

ordeal =>"Explain the supreme ordeal the hero must face. What makes this their greatest challenge and what skills are needed to overcome it?"

reward =>"Describe the reward the hero gains after surviving the ordeal. How does this help transform them moving forward?"

road =>"Describe the road back home for the hero and their continued journey. What is their final commitment and higher cause?"

finale =>"Outline the hero's final resurrection and dangerous test. What are the consequences of failure and impact on their world?"

end =>"Describe the hero's return home with new wisdom. How are they transformed and what is the resolution to their journey?"

// Execute commands in sequence


Produced by GenAIUniversity.com

Darby Rollins

Darby Rollins is the founder of Gen AI University and a leading AI integration consultant. Darby's AI training and education continues to help people all over the world streamline scale content production with AI. Darby has been featured in publications including The New York Times, Forbes, AdWorld, The Verge, DigitalMarketer, and more. Outside of AI, Darby is also the co-founder and creator behind SideHustle: The Party Game for Entrepreneurs and currently lives in Austin, TX with his fiance Rachel and puppy, Luna.

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