Story Structure #16: Act I, Stage 3: Refusal of the Call

Who really answers the call right out of the gates? No Hero worth reading very much about. Our Heroes, those Heroes who are true onions, those Heroes who are interesting, will be a bit apprehensive, and possibly scared to death at the prospect of entering into the journey that lay before them. Stage 3 is about taking a breath. Building some tension, and doing anything but answering that call.

Refusal of the Call

  • A halting to consider – Fear and hesitation are common when approaching a threshold
    • Pause signals danger to reader – helps tension along
    • Can be huge, or small and subtle
  • Hero may:
    • Try to avoid the Call
    • Make excuses
    • Continually refuse (tragic Hero)
    • Fight opposing Calls (choices)
    • Refuse a negative Call = positive outcome (call could have been temptation)
    • Encounter more Calls in the form of distractions, or
    • Be a willing hero, ready to attack
      • Refusal of the call then needs to be realized elsewhere in story, possibly through others’ warnings or similar pauses to reflect on the wisdom of continuing (Threshold Guardians).
      • Doubts and Threshold Guardians create emotional suspense
  • Heroes inevitably violate limits set by Mentors and Threshold Guardians
    • The Law of the Secret Door shows how limits indicate future violation.
      • ‘You can have anything, but not this one thing,’ which is of course the first thing you’ll become fixated with and have to have.
  • Refusal can be an opportunity to redirect the focus of an adventure
    • Shallow -> Deeper

Stage 3 is the perfect opportunity to open up our Hero and see some of his inner workings. Really see what’s making him tick, tock, and rock. Take advantage of the window moment.


A printable version, for your reference, can be found here: Stage 3: Refusal of the Call

To view a chronological listing of the posts in this series, continue below:

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