LUW Conference – Notes Part 5

Welcome to PART 2 of the Maxwell Alexander Drake panel notes. We continue on with what makes a hero and twelve steps you should consider when writing your story (especially if it’s an adventure-type story).

“Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” -Shakespeare

Why share this quote? Sometimes we’re afraid to let our heroes be heroes. Don’t hold your heroes back. Let the characters do what they’re going to do. Let your heroes be super heroic, villains super villainous.


  • A hero needs to be relatable.
  • A hero needs something that sets them apart.
  • A hero should not be perfect.
  • A hero should be a Doer – they accept the call.
  • A hero tends to live life on a razor’s edge.
  • A hero is willing to risk their life for others.
  • A hero should be willing to make sacrifices.
  • A Hero must always GROW and CHANGE.


  • A villain is normally established.
  • A villain needs to be relatable.
  • A villain needs something that sets them apart.
  • A villain should not be perfect.
  • A villain should be a Doer – they accept the call.
  • *A villain wants to succeed*
  • A villain tends to live life on a razor’s edge.

Do heroes and villains sound similar. There’s only one difference between them: you, the author. If you want to write a great villain, write them as if they were your hero. Because… There is no such thing as a “villain.” A villain believes they are the hero of their own story. They may take more extremes than the hero, but give them goals and motivations like you would your hero. Write them so they want to win and defeat the hero.

How do we accomplish creating a plot from our hero’s point of view?

Act 1 – This is the origin part or set up for the rest of the story.
Act 2 – This is where the hero travels the road of trials, or it can also be called the questing section. (Around 50% of your story will take place here. This is not a hard and fast number, but it gives you an idea of how much time you’ll be spending in Act 2 typically).
Act 3 – This is the resolution section. This shouldn’t be very long at all or it can ruin what you accomplished with the climax and bore the reader.


These are twelve things you should consider and eventually know about your story. The following typically takes place in ACT ONE.

Step One – Creating the Every Man. What is the world like that our hero comes from? What is his home life like? What is his job? What can you do to connect the reader to this hero?
Ask yourself when creating characters: what does this do for my story? You should ultimately create a character that the reader can relate to.

Step Two – The Call to Adventure. Something comes along and starts to pull the hero from his mundane world and drag them into the “special” world of your story.

What does this do for my story? This is how I get my hero into the plot.

Step Three – Refusal of the Call. For this to be epic quest, the hero must be called to do something that is beyond them. Something he does not currently have the ability to do. (Think Luke Skywalker when Obi-Wan says you should come with me and Luke says he’s too busy with his farm boy life for that adventure nonsense.)

What does this do for my story? My way to show the reader the Hero’s vulnerability and to let the reader understand how big this “call” really is.

Step Four – The Outside Aid. Someone or something shows up just in time to set the hero on the path to start gaining what they will need to overcome the obstacles ahead.

What does this do for my story? I just showed the reader that this is beyond the capabilities of the hero. Now, I need to start getting him what he needs to survive.

Step Five – The Belly of the Whale. Now our hero has everything they need to cross that threshold from his normal, mundane world to that “special” world that will be the playground for the remainder of our story. Like Jonah, our hero has been swallowed by destiny and is now being spit out into new world.

What does this do for my story? I need to show the reader that the story is moving.

Now we’re getting into ACT TWO.

Step Six – The Gauntlet or the Road of Trials. Here is where your hero goes on their miniquests and gains the rest of what is needed to get the job done. Things are heating up.

Some of these trials could include:

  • For Love and Honor: Desire for love, especially to rescue or protect. This gives my hero a reason to fight.
  • Mother as Goddess: Unite their masculine and feminine sides. Become whole and comfortable with who they are. This completes my hero and shows growth.
  • Atonement of the Father: Comes face to face with antagonist, forced to face his future, and it is not all that bright. This lets my hero come to understand the scope of the plot.
  • Temptation: Something comes along and tries to lure hero off the path, into destruction, or at least pull him away from his goal. This is an ultimate test.Readers need to believe in the hero and this show them who he is and that he’s a real person.
  • Whiff of Death: Take things to the ultimate level. Things must become deadly for your hero. The hero can’t fear losing it all in order to succeed.

Step Seven – the Ultimate Boon. Turning point in the hero’s quest where he finds the one things every hero needs – the ability to believe in himself. This is the point where my hero FEELS ready.

Now we’ve come into ACT THREE.

Step Eight – Refusal of the Return. You hero is now larger than life. You do want a powerful hero, but have you made them unidentifiable to your readers. This step insures the hero is still relatable to the reader. (A moment to see the vulnerable side).

Step Nine – The Empire Strikes Back. Our hero has stirred up a hornet’s nest getting the tools they need. Now the repercussions of these actions are going to come around and bite them in the butt. This stimulates a fast ratcheting up of the tension.

Step Ten – Rescue from Without. When we started them off, the hero needed a mentor. They have gotten their boons, but they may need a little help. This is another way to have reader relate to hero and reminds them of hero’s vulnerability.

Step Eleven – Master of Two Worlds. Your hero has reached a point where they can defeat the evil because they have learned to master both the world around them, and what is inside them. This should be the point where the audience stands up and cheers.

Step Twelve – The New Hero. Your hero now has to find his place in this new “special” world. What does this do? At this point readers have earned learning what happens when the hero goes home.

Okay, now that you’ve got twelve steps to crafting a successful adventure story (and I think this can be generally applied to any story your crafting), go forth and write.

Did you learn anything new? Is this something you’ve been doing already? Anything you would add? Anything you disagree with?


14 thoughts on “LUW Conference – Notes Part 5

  1. I’ve noticed a lot of my plot in those steps mentioned, but not all. I’m guessing they’re more of like guidelines. Particularly the miniquests. I feel like my plot is more like a longer quest with side-distractions than miniquests to a bigger quest.

    However, I’ve seen a lot of act-planning notes and this is, by far, my favourite. I particular like, “Something comes along and starts to pull the hero from his mundane world and drag them into the β€œspecial” world,” as Phillip’s brother does literally that and Phillip even complains about it!

    • I also found when he was going over notes I thought, “Oh, I know a place where that’s happening in my story!” We’re so used to this format, some of it comes out on its own in our writing.

      But I think side-distractions could be mini-quests in their own way.

      • Yeah πŸ˜€ I never used a format (I don’t think I planned the book very much to begin with πŸ˜‰ ), but, reading back, I can tell we automatically use the idea.

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