I asked this question earlier:

What are the stages of The Guardian's Journey?

In constructing a story, I plan on following the following patterns:

The Hero's Journey: The Hero's Journey

The Villain's Quest: The Villain's Quest

My question is, what would be the structure of "The Guardian's Journey"?

After talking with my sister, who has a Masters in Education and English, I discovered that what I'm looking for doesn't actually exist. She suggested that I do my own research to create this new thing. Again, this is "The Hero's Journey" mixed with "The Goddess's Journey", "The Villain's Journey", and "The Guardian's Journey".

This is literary research, which is something I'm not really experienced in. Where do I start, and what would be the process in this case?

  • 1
    I tweaked your title a little so people doing similar Internet searches can find it. Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 15:45
  • 2
    Questions about pure literary topics are closed here all the time; I quoted a bit of your original question, to make it clear that this is related to a writing project. Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 20:05
  • I appreciate it. Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 20:53

3 Answers 3


I'd lay out the existing journeys in some kind of grid (Excel might actually work for this) and see what commonalities there are, or if some kind of theme appears.

Make a list of what defines a Guardian. Some suggestions:

  • Does this character interact with the Hero?
  • Does this character intervene to protect the Hero?
  • Does this character advise the Hero?
  • Where does the Guardian show up in the story?
  • Where does the Guardian's arc start and end?
  • Does the Guardian learn or change?
  • Can you have a Guardian if any of those elements are missing?

Once you know what you're looking for, then you have to start looking for stories with that character archetype, and see how many of those stories match up to your hypothesis. So yes, lots of reading and watching movies. Revise your hypothesis as the evidence mounts.

(Please note that Guardian and Hero are gender-neutral terms in this context.)


Maybe I don't understand, but (I think) the whole point of a Guardian is that they DON'T change, they DON'T undergo a journey. At least, classically. The hero is the one who changes, who undergoes a journey, who experiences peril. The Guardian is above all that, which is why the Guardian is usually a god or demigod of some sort.

For example, Gandalf the Grey is a mix of Guardian and Hero. To Bilbo, GtG is unchanging, a Guardian. GtG pops in and out of "The Hobbit," almost as a deus ex machina. Only in a few places does GtG exhibit Hero attributes. In contrast, to the Fellowship in LotR, GtG is more Hero, less Guardian. After his death and return, he's undergone an apotheosis (sort-of). Gandalf the White is almost pure Guardian. His limitations are self-imposed. He is only allowed to aid the Heroes, not do everything for them. (In the books, that is. The 3rd LotR movie has GtW as a defeatable UberHero, a more powerful version of GtG.)

My point is that, once you have Guardians undergoing journeys, you're just writing about Heroes. That is why you can't find anything about "The Guardian's Journey." However, Guardians and Heroes are archetypes. Clearly you CAN have mixtures of them in a single character. Perhaps what you really need is "The Journey from Hero to Guardian."


Read a lot of books with Guardian characters, and as you read, pay attention to your own reactions to the story. Then step back and ask yourself why certain scenes or paths of character development worked or didn’t work for you as a reader. It can be especially helpful to collect examples of stories that work badly, and stories that “break the rules” but seem to work anyway.

Adler and Van Doren’s How to Read a Book also provides some useful tips on research in general.

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