In my previous post, I discussed the Hero’s Ordinary World. Since I’ve defined the Hero’s foundation, I now need to shake him loose from it. Welcome to the Call to Adventure.
The Call to Adventure can literally be a call, but is in general the thing that draws the hero away from their ordinary world. In fantasy, it could be the day the dragon attacks and kills the hero’s parents. In Romance stories, it could be the first time two lover’s meet. In short, it doesn’t matter what it is that happens, it is the singular event that ensures the hero will be drawn away from the ordinary.
In Twilight, the call occurs when Bella first sees Edward. From that point on, her growing obsession with him informs and alters her world, finally culminating in the revelation that he is not human.
In the recent movie, How to Train Your Dragon, it is when Hiccup realises he can’t kill the dragon. From the start of the movie, he has informed the viewer that all social life within his village revolves around prowess at killing dragons. When he has the opportunity, he can’t bring himself to do it and his world is forever changed.
In Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone, it’s debatable whether the call to action is Harry’s literal invitation to go to Hogwarts, or maybe it’s when he inadvertently releases the snake. In both instances it is clear that he is being drawn away from his ordinary world.
The Call to Adventure can be grandiose or it can be subtle. Both ways work, depending on the context of your story. Remember too that the call doesn’t have to be something that happens directly to the hero. In most revenge tales, it is usually an event that happens to a loved one of the hero that stirs him into action.
In the end, the call is the one event you can trace the events of the story back to. It is also key in setting up the stakes of the game and can often lead to singular questions such as, Will Bella and Edward get together? Will Hiccup befriend the dragon? Will Harry become a great wizard? In case you aren’t guessing, this is the hook. This is the initial point where you make your reader wonder what will happen. The key to a great story is keeping them interested until that question is finally answered.
Next, our hero gets all reluctant and Refuses the Call.