Every time the word adventure is mentioned, The Lord of the Rings pops into my head. It is one of the most popular, complex adventure stories ever. Its depth of literary elements, character development, creativity and perilous situations make it one of the most successful stories of the century.
An adventure is defined as "an undertaking involving danger and unknown risks" (Merriam Webster). That's why The Lord of the Rings is a perfect example of an adventure. To make a successful adventure, these elements help as part of your story:
1. It's all in the danger - rarely will you read an adventure that only focuses on the description of character and the "hero's" internal struggles with life, values, etc. Most successful action movies consist of multiple plots placing the hero and his or her companions in danger.
2. What's new? - A story with a typical action plot and basic story line isn't as well received by readers as something they've never experienced or come across before. The unknown keeps people entertained and alert. A typical damsel being saved by a muscular hero from a fire breathing dragon isn't as much fun as a warrior queen being subject to her servants as they transform into monsters with ten arms and legs, green slimy skin and two heads full of teeth, ready to take over the kingdom. Both are adventures, but the creativity can really earn you points.
3. Flee repetition - What's more boring than having a hero fight off a typical enemy, get what he or she came for, leave, then have to fight the same type of enemy on his way back, then another after that one, then another....and just when he thought he made it out alive, here comes another...and - oh wait! There's another? Fighting the same enemy, especially over and over again, can get old fast for adventure seeking readers. Spice things up! Even if it's a similar situation as fighting an army of gigantic ants, but then the queen ant appears to avenge her workers' deaths. At least there's an escalation among enemies. Keep your enemies and dangers as fresh and original to your story as possible.
4. The "Why" Factor - Even in life, people have a reason for doing what they do, as reactive beings. Similarly, every hero has a reason for traveling on their adventure. Is he or she going to vanquish a certain growing evil? Is he or she fighting an enemy that is destroying a town, or the world? Is he or she destined for something? Is he or she defending a certain virtue? In essence, this factor explains why the hero is taking the risk to destroy someone or something.
5. Trusty Friends or Sidekick - Companions can help a hero along the way. Companions can be introduced at the beginning of the decision to go on the adventure, like in The Lord of the Rings where Frodo decides to take the ring to Mordor and the group agrees to go with him, or later on, like in The Chronicles of Narnia where the beavers help Lucy, Peter and Susan in the fight against the evil queen. Or, the hero's companions can stay with the protagonist throughout his or her entire adventure like Ron and Hermoine in the Harry Potter series. They can be whatever you want, do whatever you want and enter or leave whenever you want, while the protagonist accomplishes the goal set before him or her.
Thankfully, we are not limited certain types of adventures. Writers can make up a totally new adventure if they choose, and not all of them have to have these elements. Each adventure story has its own ways of maneuvering the enemy, the hero or heroes and the plot. Decide what kind of adventure you want your hero to have, and let the excitement begin!
Sims, Elizabeth. “How to Map Out Your Hero's Adventure in Your Manuscript.”WritersDigest.com, Writer's Digest, 12 Jan. 2015.
Cook, Jessica, et al. “Elements of an Adventure Story.” Pen and The Pad, Leaf Group Education, 11 Apr. 2017.
“Write an Adventure Story / So You Want To.” TV Tropes.
“Characteristics of Adventure.” Montgomery County Public Schools, pp. 1–2 (pdf)
Walker, Matt. “The Five Elements of Adventure: Authenticity, Purpose and Inspiration.”Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 8 Sept. 2011.
FROM THE WRITER
This is a blog site where tips, information and other help is given to fellow writers in need of a brush up, a tip or a source. Comment, share or just enjoy!