Creative Writing and the Hero's Journey: Transamerica (2005) Deconstructed
Kal Bishop
Published on October 21, 2017
Writing & Speaking / Article Writing

From our deconstruction of hundreds of Hollywood blockbusters at at

The Hero's Journey is the template upon which the vast majority of successful stories and Hollywood blockbusters are based upon. In fact, ALL of the Hollywood movies we have deconstructed are based on this template.

Understanding this template is a priority for story or screenwriters.

The Hero's Journey:

a) Attempts to tap into unconscious expectations the audience has regarding what a story is and how it should be told.

b) Gives the writer more structural elements than simply three or four acts, plot points, mid point and so on.

c) Interpreted metaphorically, laterally and symbolically, allows an infinite number of varied stories to be created.

and more...

Transamerica (2005) deconstructed

FADE IN: the voice range; this is the voice I want to use.

Meeting the Hero: Bree getting dressed.

Hero in her Ordinary World: walking out of the house; waiting for the bus.

Developing the Hero: the doctor asks questions about her.

Motivation / the Elixir: you can sign that consent form.

Refusing the Elixir: the doctor is resistant.

Hero's Backstory / Foreshadow of the Transformation: my family is dead.

Developing the Hero / Elixir: Bree pushes her penis back.

Devolved State: Bree is a busboy in the restaurant.

Hero's Capabilities / Ordinary World: Bree telemarketing.

Call to Adventure: Toby calls.

Refusal: Bree tries to ignore the call.

Meeting the Mentor: the therapist, Margaret.

Pushed toward the First Threshold: Margaret won't give her permission.

Resisting: he's probably a scam artist.

Time Pressure: I can't delay my operation, the waiting list is a year long.

Preparing for the Journey to the First Threshold: thinking about it in her room.

First Threshold from Afar: outside the police station.

Threshold Guardian: the officer.

Backstory of Hero 2: Toby is into drugs and a prostitute.

Meeting Hero 2: Toby brought out.

Outer Cave: at the restaurant.

Middle Cave: inside Toby's room.

Foreshadow of the Transformation: maybe I'll be a blonde.

Resisting the Inner Cave: Bree calls and lies to Margaret.

Inner Cave: Bree agrees to take Toby home.

Consciously agreeing to the Transformation: Toby refuses the drugs.

Physical Separation: on the road.

Journey to the Belly of the Whale: in the car.

Resisting the Belly of the Whale: Toby doesn't want to go home.

Developing Characters and Relationships: Filling up at the gas station; Toby hides his money.

Developing Characters and Relationships: arriving at a hotel; Toby lying naked.

Resisting the Belly of the Whale: Toby repeats he doesn't want to go home.

Developing Characters and Relationships: waking up in the morning.

Developing Characters and Relationships: driving in the car; talking Lord of the Rings.

Push to the Belly of the Whale: Turning off to Calcun.

Resisting the Belly of the Whale: Toby runs away.

Forced to the Belly of the Whale: Grandma gives Toby a hug.

Developing Characters and Relationships: grandma plucks out Bree's nasal hair.

Pushed to the Belly of the Whale: Bree fetches Toby's step dad.

Belly of the Whale:

Toby and his Dad have a fight; Dad's been abusing him.

Polarization: Bree apologises.

Polarization: Toby camps outside.

Push to the Physical Separation: Grandma tells Bree that Toby's Ma killed herself.

Physical Separation: Toby hitchhiking; Toby getting in the car.

Polarization: in the car; Toby won't talk to Bree; Toby insists on the drugs.

Polarization: in the café; I'm not his mother; sitting on the other side.

Creatures of the World of the Transformation: filling up at the gas station; the men watching.

Trial 1:

Outer Cave: Toby is camping out.

Preparing for the Outer Cave: Bree shopping for camping gear.

Outer Cave: Bree cooking.

Middle Cave: Going to the ladies room; do you think there are snakes around here.

Inner Cave: Toby talking about his dad by the campfire; Bree takes her pills.

Transformation 1:

Waking up; the bright idea; Bree will set him up in the telemarketing field.

In the car; working in a pet store is not very ambitious.

Trial 2:

In the café / store; Toby meets the girl.

The child reads Bree.

Bree phones Margaret.

The girl kisses Toby.

Transformation: (Bree acting as a mother) Bree wants to be introduced to Toby's new friend.

Resisting the Transformation: "..Margaret, I don't think I'm cut out to be a mother…"

Trial 3:

Forced to the Transformation: Bree forced to pray at the table.

Acting like Mother: eat your vegetables; a condition for buying the hat is not to do drugs.

Resisting the Transformation: Toby does drugs.

Transforming: Toby gives Bree the hat.

Celebration: Toby hanging out of the window of the car.

Journey to a (glimpse of ) the New World: why are we going to Dallas?

Warning: I hope you'll be on your best behaviour.

Threshold Guardian: Marianne welcomes them.

Outer Cave:

New World: Bree surprised to be at the Gender Pride meeting.

Initiates: Marianne passes the word that Toby doesn't know.

Middle Cave:

Creatures of the New World: the characters at the party.

Inner Cave: Toby almost sees Bree undressed, not ready to reveal herself.


Driving; what did you study?

Proximity: Blowing bubbles.

Deception Revealed: Toby sees that Bree has a penis.

Polarization: Toby ignores Bree; continues smoking.

Polarization: Toby doesn't speak to Bree in the car.

Journey to the Communion: Toby wants to go to Sammy's Wigwam.

Foreshadow of the Oracle: seeing the hitcher.

Communion: Toby tells that she has a Dick.

Communion: Bree walks away.

Communion: Arguing in the car; Bree tells Toby about the operation she wants.

Meeting the Oracle: Picking up the hitcher.

Meeting the Oracle: The hitcher endears himself.

Communion: The hitcher and Toby get undressed and swim in the pool.

Developing Characters and Relationships: talking while swimming.

Communion: Toby doesn't think Bree is a freak, just a liar.

Oracle Reveals: The hitcher steals the car.

Pushed to the Sword: walking and hitching the ride.

World of the Sword: on the back of the truck.

Seizing the Sword [Toby]: Toby picks up someone in the toilet and gets some money.

Seizing the Sword [Bree]: Bree meets Calvin Manygoats and gets a ride and a place to stay.

Developing Characters and Relationships: Bree sits with Calvin on the porch; "..keeps the dogs off the porch…"

Developing Characters and Relationships: Bree has the hots for Calvin.

Developing Characters and Relationships: the hat keeps the sun off my face better than a headband and a couple of eagle feathers.

Threshold Guardian: Bree goes to the powder room; Toby tries to tell Calvin that there's more to her than she's letting on.

Seizing the Sword: Calvin gives Bree his phone number and Toby a hat.

Near Death Experience: Toby asks for Sidney at the door; Elisabeth closes the door on him.

Resisting the Atonement: On the grass.

Atonement with the Father: Bree knocks on the door; Mom and Dad it's me.

Apotheosis: with her Dad; it's Subrina! we love you but we don't respect you; meeting Sidney; he's your grandson.

Ultimate Boon: the parents treat Toby really well.

Journey to / Foreshadow of the Elixir: Bree needs to borrow $1000 for the airfare.

Transforming: Bree gets ready and steals the tablets.

Transformation (New Clothes): Bree in her dress; Elizabeth combs Toby's hair.

Resisting the Transformation: arriving at dinner; Bree has to pull out Elizabeth's chair.

Transformation: the joint photo; Toby pulls out Bree's chair.

Journey to / Foreshadow of the Elixir: Bree asks to borrow $1000 for the airfare.

Guardain of the Elixir: Elizabeth tries to dissuade Bree from the operation.

Guardain of the Elixir: Elizabeth offers the money on condition that Toby stays.

Guardain of the Elixir: Elizabeth running after Toby.

Foreshadow of the Elixir: Bree wishes that they could just look at her and see her; Bree agrees to let Toby come and live with her.

Disgust / Refusal: Toby tries to sleep with Bree; Bree tells him she's his father.

Magic Flight:

Bree pursues Toby.

Bree recovers from the punch.

Toby disappears; putting out an APB.

Crossing the Return Threshold: Bree returns to the hospital and gets the operation.

Obstacle: after the operation; Bree unhappy that Toby has disappeared.

Obstacle: Toby in LA on the beach, taking drugs.

Master of Two Worlds: Bree a woman now.

Transformed: Bree a waitress, not a busboy now; learning Spanish.

Transformed: Toby doing porn as a blonde.

Freedom to Live: Toby turns up at Bree's door.

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Kal Bishop


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Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. His specialities include Knowledge Management and Creativity and Innovation Management. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached at

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