I love Joseph Campbell’s monomyth theory. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s the idea that every hero, and hero’s journey, uses many of the same characters, symbols, and themes.

Holiday Writing Prompt: The 12 Steps of the Turkey Hero's Journey

So in honor of Thanksgiving, let’s write a story with the Noble Gobbler in the role of the hero, or Pro-turk-onist!

  • He can be a Tom, or she can be a Tammy.
  • Your turkey can be alive or a zombie.
  • He can be in the forest, or in the freezer.
  • She can be on the plate, or fleeing from the platter.

It’s up to you!

The 4 Heroic Steps of Your Pro-turkey-nist Hero’s Journey

While there are twelve total steps in the hero’s journey, we’re going to keep it simple and focus on four fun storytelling steps that Campbell teaches make for great heroic journeys.

Only . . . with a heroic turkey.

So here are four steps, or four prompts, of the Turkey’s journey!

Step 2: Gobble (Call) to Adventure

After establishing your pro-turk-onist’s Ordinary World—usually a safe, but flawed, home—call him to adventure with either the arrival of a Mentor or character in need.

Are the turkeys of a neighboring forest under attack?

Is it time for Tom to take the next step in Turkey Kung Fu and become the feathered fella he was meant to be?

You can also initiate this step with a sudden crisis (inciting incident), where the hero’s own home or world is violently disrupted by a new threat.

Either way, give your Gobbler a specific moment when he has to choose to be a hero!

Step 5: Crossing the Countertop (Threshold)

After refusing that call to adventure, but meeting a helpful mentor, Tammy has to take that first big step into a new, dangerous world.

This is usually identified with a physical “line” or “barrier” that the hero needs to physically will herself across.

What will it be for Tammy?

Perhaps she is ready to escape from the farm, but has to step under some trechearous fencing.

She could have to say goodbye to loved ones, and get into a vehicle that will carry her away.

Or maybe she must choose to reveal her passion for singing, and belt out that first beautiful gobble.

Crossing the Threshold is an essential “first choice” that the pro-turk-onist must take on her quest—make it a bold and exciting one!

Step 7: Approach to the Inmost Oven (Cave)

After leaving home, meeting many friends and enemies, and going on a number of adventures, it’ll be time for Tom to face a major Ordeal.

Must he infiltrate a restaurant, a home, or a farm, and rescue several other turkeys? Is he ascending a high place in a quest for wisdom? Is he preparing to ask the love of his life to join him in bird-matrimony?

Before that Ordeal can be faced, Tom needs to prepare. He needs to plan, prepare, and possibly pray.

This is often the best part of a story—the Approach.

So what will Tom do before he faces his biggest test ever? Build your reader’s suspense with a great Approach scene!

Step 11: Reheating the Leftovers (Resurrection)

Ultimately the hero must face death in a final way, and must conquer it in ways that ordinary folks like you and me couldn’t. This phase of the turkey’s journey is probably the most powerful—and most difficult—to achieve: the Resurrection.

How can Tammy come fretfully close to death, but still succeed?

Does she break out of the oven at the last moment, though her companions are sure she’s a goner?

Does she cleverly convince a chef that he should celebrate a new holiday that feasts on another creature instead of turkey?

Does her spirit inhabit a family of Thanksgiving diners who adopt Tammy’s social causes?

Much of this will depend on your genre, and on the choices you make earlier in the story that set up your conclusion, but bringing your pro-turkey-nist to the brink of death, or even beyond it, and back is a the crown jewel of heroic storytelling.

The Power of the Hero’s Journey

The hero’s journey is an incredibly useful storytelling tool that all serious writers should study and utilize when the moment calls for it. Here’s a link to all twelve steps so you can explore it in more detail!

How will Tom and Tammy fare in their heroic exploits?

Only you can tell!

How do you use the hero’s journey in your stories? Let us know in the comments.

PRACTICE

For today’s practice, go ahead and enjoy this silly little prompt as it is. Take fifteen minutes to write a short heroic tale about a pro-turkey-nist and share one of the four steps, from the four prompts, in the comments below!

Remember: This is for fun. Writing about a heroic turkey will do either one of two things: 1) Give you a quick, silly break from your NaNoWriMo grind, or 2) Allow you to experiment with a storytelling technique without putting any perfectionist pressure on yourself to “do it right” and somehow craft a masterpiece out of it. Because that’s what would do. Have fun!

David Safford
David Safford

David Safford is the author of The Bean of Life, the story of a man who decides to save the world with coffee. He also wrote the free book 10 Reasons Readers Quit Your Book to help writers create stories that work every time, available here. Between writing and teaching, he plays The Legend of Zelda with his three-year-old daughter and escapes to the Great Smoky Mountains whenever he can.