Hero Tropes Checklist on the Hero’s Journey

If you’ve read my blog at all or you know me, then you know that I’m a little obsessed with The Hero’s Journey and all of its trappings.

I’ve recently read ‘Write To Market’ by Chris Fox where he talks about using the “tropes” of your genre to be able to write stories your market will want to read.

After a lot of research and reading, I’ve compiled a list of the tropes used for Heros on the Hero’s Journey. Keep in mind that you don’t have to use ALL of these, just some of them if you want to hook your readers and keep them moving along your hero’s journey.

  • Unusual Birth – the hero is born under mysterious circumstances or born into royalty, or otherwise “marked” for greatness (usually an orphan or loses one or both parents at an early age).
  • Inexperienced – the hero is usually naïve and inexperienced in aspects of being a hero.
  • Stranger in a Strange Land – the hero is often raised or born into a land that is not his own and one from which he longs to escape (often a rural setting and away from cities).
  • Hero’s Journey – the hero must go on a journey or change in some significant way through learning an important lesson(s) while in search of something significant, before returning home (often crossing a large body of water, a bridge or using mass transit).
  • The Unknown – the hero returns to his land of birth either in disguise or as an unknown person.
  • Companions – the hero has or develops a loyal band of companions/friends which aid him along his journey.
  • The Mentor or Guide – the hero meets a wise old mentor or supernatural guide to help him along his journey.
  • The Gift – the hero receives a gift, often a special weapon, that only the hero can use or was specially meant for him.
  • Initiation – the hero goes through an initiation or rite of passage from immature to mature via some ritual or ceremony or trial of some sort.
  • Road of Trials – the hero faces many different trials to test his more mature strengths, both physical and mental.
  • The Wound – the hero experiences some sort of physical or emotional wound from which he never completely recovers.
  • Atonement – the hero must make up for an evil or wrong committed by himself or his ancestors/family.
  • Reward – the hero is rewarded for his efforts with a great talisman or elixir and can stay in the new land or return to his old world as a new person.

I’m sure this list can be longer or shorter and I’ve probably left out some important tropes … what did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

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