The Hero's Journey is a myth based framework. Incredibly flexible, it has three main parts-- the separation, where the hero sets out on his journey, seeking (possibly reluctantly) adventure. Secondly, the initiation, where the majority of the journey happens-- the hero arrives. Finally is the return. The hero has finished whatever they set out to do and has obtained the object (treasure, love, or knowledge). Now he must return home. These are the basic elements of every Hero's journey, and can be used in a variety of ways to improve, analyze, and create narratives.
This is the original world of the hero, which "suffers from a symbolic deficiency." The hero is lacking something, or something is taken from him.
The hero is given a challenge, problem, or adventure. Often it appears as a blunder, or chance. This stage establishes the goal of the hero.
The (often) reluctant hero has to be set along the correct path. He must weigh the consequences and be excited by a stronger motivation to proceed further.
The hero encounters a wise figure who prepares him for the journey. This figure (or item) gives advice, guidance, or an item, but cannot go with the hero.
The hero has committed to his task, and enters the special world. Often he is met by a threshold guardian.
In the special world, the hero learns the new rules by meeting people and obtaining new information. There is often a "local watering hole" component. This is where the true characteristics of the hero are revealed.
Now our hero, and often his allies, have come to the edge of the dangerous place where the "object of the quest" is hidden. This stage often is the land of the dead.
The hero faces danger, often a life-or-death moment that is either physical or psychological.
After surviving, our hero takes possession of the object, typically a treasure, weapon, knowledge, token, or reconciliation.
The hero must now deal with the consequences of their actions. They may be pursued by remaining forces. They now face the decision to return to the ordinary world.
One final test is required for the purification and rebirth of the hero. Alternatively, it may be a miraculous transformation.
The triumphant hero returns to the ordinary world bearing the elixir. Common elixirs are treasure, love, freedom, wisdom, or knowledge. A defeated hero is doomed to repeat the lesson.