Lester Dent’s Hero’s Journey Template

Bear in mind this is just a bare bones kind of deal intended to get the creative juices flowing. Come to find out the Hero’s Journey already has the Three Act Structure built into it. I’m honestly not sure if Lester Dent’s format followed it or not. This might be why Moorcock modified it the way he had. I don’t know.

Combines the Following:


Lester Dent Set Up (60k Total Words as modified by Michael Moorcock)

  1. A DIFFERENT MURDER METHOD FOR THE VILLIAN TO USE
  2. A DIFFERENT THING FOR THE VILLIAN TO BE SEEKING
  3. A DIFFERENT LOCALE
  4. A MENACE WHICH IS TO HANG LIKE A CLOUD OVER HERO

Choosing one is good, two is better, but three is great. I would think achieving all four would be optimum if they are well balanced. Have them in mind before tackling the rest.


Act 1

Word Count Goal: 15k

  1. The Ordinary World
    • Limited awareness of problem
    • Soon as possible, intro hero and hit him/her with trouble.
      • Hint at a mystery, menace, or problem that the hero will be coping with
  2. Call to Adventure
    • Increased awareness of need for change
    • Refusal of the Call
      • Fear; Resistance to change
    • Hero pitches in to cope with his/her trouble
      • Tries to fathom the mystery, defeat the menace, or solve the problem
  3. Bring ALL other characters in on the action as soon as possible
  4. Meeting the Mentor
    • Overcoming fear
  5. Hero’s endeavors land in actual physical conflict near end of Phase 1
  6. Near end of Phase 1, add a complete surprise plot twist
  7. Crossing the Threshold
    • Committing to change

Act 1 Check List

  1. Does it have SUSPENSE?
  2. Is there a MENACE (a clear and present conflict) to the hero?
  3. Does everything happen logically?
  4. Is the action and dialogue – EVERYTHING – moving the plot forward?

Act 2 – Part 1

Word Count Goal: 15k

  1. Hit the hero with more trouble and grief
    • Tests, Allies, and Enemies
      • Experimenting with new conditions
  2. The hero struggles against the trouble and grief
    • Approach
      • Preparing for major change
  3. Another physical conflict results from the struggle
  4. End Phase 2 with another surprising plot twist

Act 2 – Part 1 Check List

  1. Does it have SUSPENSE?
  2. Does the MENACE grow like a black cloud?
  3. Is the hero getting it in the neck?
  4. Does everything happen logically?
  5. Is EVERYTHING moving the plot forward?

Act 2 – Part 2

Word Count Goal: 15k

  1. Shovel more grief and trouble onto the hero
  2. Hero makes some headway, and corners the villain (or someone)
  3. Physical conflict results
    • The Ordeal
      • Big change with feeling of life and death
  4. Yet another surprising plot twist – preferably this time the hero gets it in the neck bad – to end Phase 3
  5. The Reward
    • Accepting consequences of new life

Act 2 – Part 2 Check List

  1. Does it still have SUSPENSE?
  2. Is the MENACE getting blacker?
  3. Is the hero finding himself in a hell of a fix?
  4. Is it all happening logically?
  5. Is EVERYTHING moving the plot forward?

Act 3

Word Count Goal: 15k

  1. The Road Back
    • New challenge and rededication
    • Lay on the trouble and grief thick for the hero
  2. The Resurrection
    • Final attempts; Last-minute danger
    • Get the hero almost buried in the troubles
    • Hero rescues himself using HIS OWN SKILL, TRAINING, BRAIN, OR BRAWN
    • Mysteries remaining are cleared up as hero takes the situation in hand in the course of the final conflict
  3. Reveal the final, surprise plot twist
  4. Return with the Elixir
    • Mastery
  5. End the story with the punch line

Act 3 Check List

  1. Does the SUSPENSE hold out to the last line?
  2. Does the MENACE hold out to the last line?
  3. Is everything explained?
  4. Does everything happen logically?
  5. Does EVERYTHING move the plot forward?
  6. Is the Punch Line enough to leave the reader with that WARM feeling?

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