But when life calls, do you answer?
The Call to Adventure is usually shown as an inciting incident or trigger. Something that forces or compels the heroine to take action and change course. Look at the following examples:
- The Wizard of Oz. Miss Gulch takes Toto away from Dorothy, and Auntie Em and Uncle Henry are powerless to stop this. Toto escapes but Dorothy has already seen that her family can’t protect what she holds dear, and she runs away.
- The Hunger Games. Katniss changes her course and steps in to save her little sister.
- Star Wars. Luke’s (adopted) family is decimated, then he receives the puzzling message “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope” and begins his path to becoming a Jedi Knight.
Are there extreme circumstances in your story? Is the hero about to drown, fall off a cliff, or face a bullet? If so, he needs to take immediate action. Or is there a simpler feeling of disease or disquiet that encourages him in a new direction? If so, movement toward a new goal may take some time.
When does the call happen?
Early in the story, usually in the first few chapters. With a lot of emphasis these days on strong openings, sometimes the call takes place at the very beginning. Then the author fills in with background to bring the reader to the present moment.
Who or what issues the call?
The call is often given by a herald, or messenger. (Think of the Christmas carol Hark the Herald Angels. The angels were messengers of God.) The herald says or does something that tells the hero action is needed. The droids in Star Wars delivered the secret message from Princess Leia. Harry Potter received a letter from Hogwarts. Who or what is the herald in your story?
In summary, the Call to Adventure introduces a change for the hero that propels him out of the Ordinary World (see the previous article Set the Scene) and into the unknown. So what change do you foresee for your hero? Who will have a hand in bringing that about? And how will it all take place?