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

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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 (check out all 12 steps here!), we’re going to keep it simple and focus on four fun storytelling steps that Campbell teaches to create a great journey.

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 practice box 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!

Enter your practice here:

You deserve a great book. That's why David Safford writes adventure stories that you won't be able to put down. Read his latest story at his website. David is a Language Arts teacher, novelist, blogger, hiker, Legend of Zelda fanatic, puzzle-doer, husband, and father of two awesome children.

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8 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Westra

    Sounds like a crazy but fun idea to play around with, after Thanksgiving.

    Reply
  2. Selma Writes

    Haha! Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go… hooray for the fun, is the pumpkin done? … hooray for the pumpkin pie!
    Fun prompt, but No turkey this year!

    Reply
  3. Elizabeth

    thank you for the hilarious prompts. In preparation mode for traditional Thanksgiving meal – will relax and write after Thanksgiving Day.
    Happy Thanksgiving everyone

    Reply
  4. TerriblyTerrific

    That was too funny! Happy Thanksgiving!”

    Reply
  5. Evelyn Sinclair

    Tom did not understand. He was Chloe’s pet and lived with the other five who were also pets in her family’s garden. Who were these Americans who had come to the Scottish Highlands and were discussing some kind of festival which involved the turkeys? Chloe’s parents were not too happy about the request the Americans were making – and not even the money on offer interested them. The turkeys were pets. But finally after half an hour of pleadings they capitulated. O.K. which one do you want? Tammie who was Tom’s best friend was selected. In the circumstances being chosen was not exactly an honour! He had to save her! But how? As the tall American man moved towards Tammie, Tom started to gobble loudly inciting the others to revolt, and the ensuing chaos of turkeys running around everywhere, created so much confusion that the man could not get close to Tammy. Tom was keeping close to Tammy so that he could perhaps attack this man who wanted to capture her. He had heard horror stories of how Americans “celebrate” by killing turkeys, and he was having none of it. After a frenzied half hour of turkeys gone wild, flapping, gobbling at the top of their voices and running around like crazy, Tom’s small, defiant revolution succeeded. The American man said he could no longer identify the bird he had selected and he retreated in disgrace. What a Hero Tom had turned out to be amongst his turkey friends. And they all lived happily ever after.

    Reply
  6. Christine

    TURKEY TALE
    Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard to get her poor dog a bone
    but when she got there…
    “I’m so sorry, Bowser. There’s nothing here but a few peppercorns and some summer savory. Can’t make a meal for you with that. Whatever will we do!”

    The answer came gobbling in the window.

    “Did you hear that, Bowser? The answer to our need! Our generous neighbour Hector Goodly is raising a dozen turkeys to sell for the Christmas feast. Surely he won’t miss one. Think of a delicious turkey drumstick.”

    Bowser WAS thinking. Somewhere between the churning in his brain and the growling in his stomach, the vision of juicy turkey drumsticks danced before his eyes.

    “Let’s go and ask if he can spare a bird for this poor widow about to faint at his doorstep.”

    But when Tomothy Turkey, leader of the tribe, saw the leanness of Bowser and the hopeful glance of Mother Hubbard as they passed, he hustled around his harem and told the girls they’d better disappear or they might be dispatched. The threat put wings to their wishes and they rose to new heights. Soon they were safely in the top branches of Hector’s walnut trees. Tomothy, crafty bird that he was, had rushed to the pig’s trough and filled his crop with hog mash.

    Neighbour Goodly stood on his step and nodded sympathetically at Old Mother Hubbard who was wringing her hands in supplication. Bowser howled most pitifully, adding to her plea. Alas, when Herman led them around to the barnyard, the turkeys were nowhere to be seen — except for Tomothy, who was overly portly for rising very far off the ground. Especially with his crop full of hog mash.

    “Well, he’ll be tough,” Hector said apologetically, “but he’s the only one here. Can’t imagine where the rest have gone.” He grabbed his axe.

    At that moment there arose such a gobbling, gagging, coughing, and hacking. Tomothy sounded like he was ready to croak. Wobbling, weaving, and spewing hog mash, he appeared to have tuberculosis and whooping cough and ulcers all combined.

    Mother Hubbard was horrified. “I really don’t think we want a bird that sick.”

    “I don’t understand it. He was fine this morning,” said Hector. “Well, it happens my wife is cooking sausages for our supper. Maybe you could have some of those if you’d rather.”

    “Oh, we’d much rather. Wouldn’t we, Bowser?”

    “Our hero!” the girls all gobbled when they floated down from the trees. Well, perhaps they didn’t float, but being they’re ladies I don’t want to say anything too indelicate about their descent.

    Reply
    • Evelyn Sinclair

      I love the converstional nature of your story.

      Reply
  7. karamjit kaur

    The turkeys were pets. But finally after half an hour of pleadings they
    capitulated. O.K. which one do you want? Tammie who was Tom’s best
    friend was selected. In the circumstances being chosen was not exactly
    an honour! He had to save her! But how? As the tall American man
    moved towards Tammie, Tom started to gobble loudly inciting the others
    to revolt, and the ensuing chaos of turkeys running around everywhere,
    created so much confusion that the man could not get close to Tammy.

    http://www.emetechnologies.com/industrial-training-in-chandigarh/6-months-mechanical-engineering-training-in-chandigarh-&-mohali.php

    Reply

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