Dorothy crossed the threshold when the tornado had dropped her into Munchkin land, then she met her mentor Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, and she ventured onto the Yellow Brick Road with her friends the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion. Quite a lot of activity!
The next step on the Hero’s Journey is the Approach to the Inmost Cave. This is the time to prepare for the big ordeal to come and overcome obstacles and Threshold Guardians (those pesky people who get in the way of your heroine having what she wants).
Dorothy and her friends are now emerging from the woods and take their first glimpse of the Emerald City. The radiant green light beckons and they answer with joy. But obstacles await. First, the Wicked Witch seduces them to sleep in a field of poppies. They encounter a rude sentry (Threshold Guardian) at the entrance to the Emerald City. When they finally gain access, they’re escorted to see the Wizard, only to be denied. At last they meet with the great Oz who gives Dorothy the impossible task of fetching the Wicked Witch’s broomstick, which brings our grand foursome to the Wicked Witch’s castle where they battle more Threshold Guardians as flying monkeys and Winkies.
Think of the ordeal in your story yet to come. What will your heroine face? What obstacles is she about to encounter? Is there a natural disaster (tornado, hurricane, earthquake)? An evil villain (murderer, drug lord, scorned wife)? A plotting co-worker? A computer hacker? Remember, conflict builds tension. Most likely there will be several things along the way that lead up to and culminate in something large and foreboding.
How will she prepare? Does she need more education (computer training, language classes), physical training (martial arts, body building), weaponry (guns, knives, throwing stars)? Is it time for her to face her inner fears through yoga, meditation, energy healing?
And what Threshold Guardians will she meet? Is there a dragon guarding the tower where the Prince is held captive? Or an enormous, beefy bouncer standing at the door to True Love?
Dorothy and her friends supported each other. Their love and warmth and companionship gave them each the courage to move through obstacles they wouldn’t have managed on their own. How will your heroine’s allies help? Or will she need to help them?
The answers to these questions will move your characters and story along to the next step, the Ordeal.