The Hero’s journey – The Temptress

The Temptress

The Temptress is the opposite of the Goddess, the Goddess compels the hero on but the Temptress, provides a distraction or a detour. Rather than performing the role of a blocker or threshold guardian the Temptress presents a situation for the hero where he must make a choice.

This is an internal, moral battle rather than a physical battle. After enduring the grueling road of the trials, the Temptress throws up an option to take the easy way out, to give up on the quest. But by demonstrating he has the ability to refuse this offer, he is more heroic because of it.

The Temptress role may also be played by the Goddess but is not necessarily female.

Star Wars Temptations

Han Solo “Why don’t you come with us? You’re a good pilot, we could use you.”

Darth Vader “Join me and together we can rule the universe as father and son.”

Leia “Run away, far away, if he can feel your presence then leave this place.”

Emperor “Fulfill your destiny and take your father’s place at my side.”

Sirens would lure sailors to death by singing beautiful songs which would attract the ships  to the shore where they would break up on the rocks. They are not true Temptresses as their call is irresistible; they give the hero no choice.

Temptation in the Garden of Eden. They were warned by God not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge but a snake convinced Eve there was no harm in eating the fruit so she does,  she offers Adam some and he eats it as well. God finds out banishes them from the Garden of Eden and dishes out some eternal punishments. The dilemma they faced was their curiosity to find out what would happen if they ate the fruit versus obeying God, they choose the former and as a result, suffered the consequences.

Tempt – to attempt to persuade or entice to do something, especially something morally wrong or unwise

Lure, seduce, invite, charm persuade, magnetize


Dilemma – A problem offering at least two possibilities but to choose one means you lose the other and this loss causes pain

Difficulty, problem, bind, puzzle, quandary

How to use it in your writing

Identify a moment in your story after the hero has experienced some difficulty and hazards and present him with an opportunity, from another character, to leave the quest. If he is able to resist this temptation we admire him as a hero. If he cannot resist, he is punished and made to suffer, it is a hard lesson learned.

Most often, but not always, the temptation will come from either the Goddess or the Antagonist of your story. Is this the case or does it need to come from another character, such as one of the hero’s allies?


The Hero’s journey – Meeting with the Goddess

Meeting of the Goddess

A unification with someone, it doesn’t have to be a woman but most likely is but it also includes self unification. It’s a stage where the hero receives a boost or support from love, specifically unconditional love, which means it is accepting of the good and the bad in someone, accepting both the bliss and the pain, the pleasure and the suffering.  Meeting someone who completes you, your opposite.

The Goddess also symbolizes the end goal of a better life that there is something above mundane and the dangerous something that makes life worth living. She is the hero’s muse, an inspiration for taking the heroic action.

In Blade Runner, Deckard’s job is to hunt down and eliminate Replicants. He meets Rachael, she’s had memory implants and doesn’t know she’s a Replicant. Even though she is what he must kill, he falls in love with her, he accepts her for what she is, good and bad.

In Star Wars A new Hope, Luke learns of Princess Leia’s detention and plans for extermination. She inspires him to not just wait where they were safe but to rescue her. She is leading a life he aspires to, she’s a rebel taking up the cause against the Empire and, as is often the case, she is in some exalted role of Princess.


Meeting – the act of coming together

Encounter, confront, rendezvous, merging, confluence, intersect, unite


Goddess – A female deity, a greatly admired or adored woman with extraordinary beauty and charm

Idol, creator, saint, model, superstar, spirit, seductress


Love – A passionate, personal attachment to someone.

Adulation, affection, respect, amour, devotion


Unify – to make or become a single unit.

Combine, merge, fuse, gather, intensify


Opposite – being the other of two related or corresponding things.

Unlike, conflicting, flip-side, different, diverse


How to use in your writing

Is your love story just two people getting together or is it a unification where they complete each other?

Does your hero find support or inspiration when meeting the Goddess?

Does the goddess represent a dilemma where the hero must sacrifice something to accept the good and the bad of someone?

Hero’s Journey – Belly of the whale

Belly of the whale

It is a turning point in the Hero’s Journey where the hero is swallowed by a larger monster or representative of evil and comes out with a new sense of self. The hero is consumed but emerges alive.

The whale is the personification of all that is unconscious; it is powerful, dangerous and it must be controlled by the conscious.

The purpose is to prepare the hero, physically and mentally for the challenges ahead. It is to reinforce in the mind of the hero that he is in a deadly situation. It is to understand and come to terms with death.

It’s also understood as the final separation from the hero’s previous world and the new world.

Baptism – Dipping someone in water – is symbolic of being emersed in something and people think the person has died. Then he comes back to life but is reborn anew.

The stage of Belly of the whale takes its name from the story of Jonah and the Whale.

God commanded Jonah to go and preach in Ninaveh about repentance but Jonah didn’t like that city so instead he went to another city by ship. A storm hit the boat and Jonah ended up overboard and was swallowed by a whale. He spent three days inside the whale and realized he must fulfill his obligation and face his responsibilities.

For Han solo in the Original Star Wars Trilogy, his Belly of the Whale moment is when he is put into carbon freeze. He is near death but when he emerges from this experience and has recovered the first thing he does is volunteer for the dangerous mission to take out the deflector shield. This is a shocking transformation of character, so much so that when Princess Leia finds out about it her jaw drops open. He is now, no longer a swashbuckling adventurer but a hero.

Breakdown of Belly of the whale


Definition – to consume or destroy as if by ingestion.


Engulf, destroy, demolish, envelop completely, overwhelm, consume


Definition – a ceremony, trial or experience by which one is initiated, purified or given a name.


Purification, emersion, submerge, initiation


Definition – An enlightenment causing someone to lead a new life


Resurgence, revitalization, salvation, revival

How to use in your script

Once your hero has crossed the First threshold, he shouldn’t conquer it, instead he should be overwhelmed and consumed by it. Has this happened in your script?

Does your hero have a near death experience?

Does this experience prepare them for challenge ahead?


Irony is when the intentional or implied meaning is the exact opposite of the actual or literal meaning. Irony is about  setting up and defeating expectations.

Master story teller James Cameron uses often uses irony in his scripts to great effect, so lets look some examples from his movies.

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  • Aliens – Ripley returns to planet LV-426 under the protection of the colonial marines, however the marines end up cocooned or killed and she has to save everyone herself.

Expectation – the marines would protect her.

Result – she has to save everyone.


  • The Terminator – Skynet sends back in time a Terminator to kill the mother of the leader of the human resistance movement so that he will never be born. However, because of this the humans also send back a soldier who ends up impregnating Sarah Connor, who gives birth to future leader.

Expectation – stop John Connor from being born.

Result – create John connor


  • Avatar – Jack Sully is sent in by the marines to spy on the Na’vi however he falls in love with one of them and leads the fight against them.

Expectation – destroy the Na’vi

Result – turns against the humans


Irony is a powerful tool in story telling

Irony is also at the root of all stories with a premise based around “Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it…and not like it”


So, irony is useful, not essential, but a powerful tool in story telling. During the creative process you can use irony in a few ways;

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Firstly, if you know your ending, use irony to create your beginning, ask what would be the situation that set up or had the intentions to create the exact opposite of your ending.


Secondly, if you know your set up but have no idea how to finish your story , explore notions of what is the exact opposite of the intentions you’ve set up.


It’s important, during this stage not to dismiss ideas too quickly as outrageous or impossible to pull off because part of the skill of the writer is to be able to make something work.



[quote type=”center”]Ride the horse until it drops, then you pick it up and drag it.[/quote]


Lets look at my imaginary film Dwarf teacher High, the story of a dwarf who becomes the teacher at a high school.


A possible ending for this story is the dwarf gains the respect of the students and saves the day. What is the flip of this situation?


  1.  The villains of the story want to close the school down, so they employ a dwarf who they believe will fail because he is a dwarf.
  2. He takes a up a teaching position in an exclusive school, full of over privileged rich kids who take great delight in ridiculing him at every opportunity.
  3. He starts up at a school full of poor students who can’t be bothered learning  (To Sir with Love)
  4. He’s been at the same school all his life and hates his job and his students hate him.


I like to explore at least ten different ideas or until I have an ‘Ah ha’ moment. If the story you’re working on at the moment feels predictable it could be because you’ve flagged your ironic twist too early or made it too obvious.
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Obvious Plot

If you’re making a romantic comedy and the guy is love with the classically beautiful, yet bitchy, queen of the school but his best friend is the nerdy girl, who is also gorgeous, as soon as she takes off her overalls, glasses and lets her hair down.

[quote]We all know what’s going to happen from page one. You need to hide this ironic twist using misdirection.[/quote]


Once you’ve identified the ironic twist in your story it gives you heaps of scenes, characters and obstacles to create drama.


If you took the above example number one and played it out, you’re going to need a scene to set up why the villains wont to close the school, why they think the dwarf is the right man to be the wrong man, the kids in the school are established as characters who are going to treat the dwarf badly but still be characters with enough depth so as to respond to what’s going on and redeem themselves.


Situational Irony

The above technique looked at putting irony in at a grand story level but it can also be used at a situation level.

A kid on a skateboard falls off and smashes his head open isn’t that funny or interesting however if you add some irony to the moment such as he fell off his skateboard as he was doing a trick on a safety barrier.

If the school’s guidance councilor turns out to be a drug dealer getting girls into prostitution to pay for their habit. If a fire extinguisher malfunctions, explodes and causes the school to burn down. If what ever someone is doing, or the purpose of something turns out to do the exact opposite of that intention then you’ve struck ironic gold.


So then, to put irony into a scene you’ve already got which is serving your plot and is in the context of your character but is otherwise boring. Take a scene from Dwarf teacher High.


The Dwarf tells his students to keep the noise down because the Principal is trying to impress someone. When he returns the kids are running amok making a heap of noise and the Dwarf is in trouble for leaving his students unsupervised.


This scene works fine but it’s not that entertaining, to add irony to this scene would be to keep the exact same setup, however when the Dwarf returns and the kids are playing up he jumps up on a table and has to yell over them to be quiet and as a result the Principal opens the door and hears him yelling and the Dwarf is in trouble.

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  • Expectation – telling the kids to keep the noise down so they don’t get into trouble.
  • Result – he has to yell at the kids and he gets in trouble for yelling.



Check out the first two minutes twenty five seconds of this clip to see how Joss Whedon does it.