Once Upon a Time

Imagine we are about to be plunged into a story – any story in the world. A curtain rises on a stage. A cinema darkens. We turn to the first paragraph of a novel. A narrator utters the age – old formula ‘Once upon a time….’

On the face of it, so limitless is the human imagination and so boundless the realm at the storyteller’s command, we might think that literally anything could happen next

But in fact, there are certain things we can be pretty sure we know about our story even before it begins.

For a start, it is likely that the story will have a hero, or a heroine, or both; a central figure, or figures, on whose fate our interest in the story ultimately rests; someone with whom, as we say, we can identify.

We are introduced to our hero or heroine in an imaginary world. Briefly or at length, the general scene is set. The purpose of the formula ‘Once upon a time ‘ whether the storyteller uses it explicitly or not, is to take us out of our present place and time into that imaginary realm where the story is to unfold, and to introduce us to the central figure with whom we are to identify.

Then something happens: some event or encounter which precipitates the story’s action, giving it focus. In fact the opening of the story is governed by a kind of double formula ‘once upon a time there was such and such a person, living in such and such place… then, one day, something happened.’


We are introduced to a little boy called Aladdin, who lives in a city in China… then one day a Sorcerer arrives and leads him out of the city to a mysterious underground cave. We meet a Scottish general, Macbeth, who has just won a great victory over his country’s enemies… then, on his way home, he encounters the mysterious witches. We meet a girl called Alice, wondering how to amuse herself in the summer heat… then suddenly she sees a White Rabbit running past, and vanishing down a mysterious hole. We see the great detective Sherlock Holmes sitting in his Baker Street lodgings… then there is a knock at the door and a visitor enters to present him with the next case.

This event provides ‘the Call’ which will lead the hero or heroine out of their initial state into a series of adventures or experiences which, to a greater or lesser extent, will transform their lives.

The next thing of which we can be sure is that the action which the hero or heroine are being drawn into will involve conflict and uncertainty, because without some measure of both there cannot be a story. Where there is a hero there may also be a villain (on some occasions, indeed, the hero himself may be the villain). But even if the characters in the story are not necessarily contrasted in such black – and – white terms, it is likely that some will be on the side of the hero or heroine, as friends and allies, while others will be out to oppose them.

Finally we shall sense that the impetus of the story is carrying it towards some kind of resolution. Every story which is complete, and not just a fragmentary string of episodes and impressions, must work up to a climax where conflict and uncertainty are usually at their most extreme. This then leads to a resolution of all that has gone before, bringing the story to its ending. And here we see how every story has in fact leading its central figure or figures in one of two directions. Either they end as we say, happily with a sense of liberation, fulfillment and completion. Or they end unhappily, in some kind of discomfiture, frustration or death

To say that stories either have happy or unhappy endings may seem such a commonplace that one almost hesitates to utter it. But it has to be said, simply because it is the most important single thing to be observed about stories. Around that one fact, and around what is necessary to bring a story to one type of ending or the other, revolves the whole of their extraordinary significance in our lives.

It was Aristoteles in Poetics who observed first that a satisfactory story – a story which, as he put it, is a ‘whole’ – must have a beginning, a middle and an end’. And it was Aristotle who, in the context of the two main types of stories first explicitly drew attention to the two kinds of ending a story may lead up to. On the one hand, as he put it in the Poetics, there are tragic stories. These are stories in which the hero’s or heroine’s fortunes usually begin by rising, but eventually ‘turn down’ to disaster (the greek word catastrophe means literally a down stroke, the downturn in the hero’s fortunes at the end of a tragedy). On the other hand, there are, in the broadest sense, comedies: stories in which things initially seem to become more and more complicated for the hero or heroine, until they are entangled in a complete knot, from which there seems no escape. But eventually comes what Aristotle calls the peripeteia or ‘reversal of fortune’. The knot is miraculously unraveled.  Hero, heroine or both together are liberated; and we and all the world can rejoice.

This division holds good over a much a greater range of stories than might be implied just by the terms ‘tragedy’and ‘comedy’. Indeed, with qualifications, it remains true right across the domain of storytelling. The plot of a story is that which leads its hero or heroine either to a ‘catastrophe’ or an ‘unknotting’;  either to frustration or to liberation; either to death or to a renewal of life. And it might be thought that there are almost as many ways of describing these downward or upward paths as there are individual stories in the world. Yet the more carefully we look at the vast range of stories thrown up by the human imagination through the ages, the more clearly we may discern there are certain continually recurring shapes to stories.  It is at the most important of these underlying shapes of stories that we now look.

Read on for a detailed breakdown of “The Seven Stories of Your Life”

What Can I Expect?

Here’s an outline of “The Seven Stories of Your Life itinerary.

Journey Outline


The Dark Power: From Shadow into Light


  • The Twelve Dark Characters
  • In the Zone
  • The Perfect Balance
  • The Unrealised Value
  • The Drama
  • The Twelve Light Charactres
  • Reaching the Goal
  • The Fatal Flaw


  • The Ego Takes Over
  • Losing Your Plot
  • Going Nowhere
  • Why Sex and Violence?
  • Rebellion Against ‘The One’
  • The Mystery


  • Telling Us Who We Are: Ego versus Instinct
  • Into the Real World: What Legend are You Living?
  • Of Gods and Men: Finding Your Authentic Story
  • The Age of Loki: The Dismantling of the Self

Epilogue:  What is Your Story?

About Peter de Kuster

Peter de Kuster is the founder of The Heroine’ s Journey & The Hero’s  Journey


Peter is founder of the Heroine’s Journey and Hero’s Journey project where worldwide thousands of professionals shared their story of making money doing what you love. He wrote 50+ books. Peter has an MBA in Marketing,  MBA in Financial Economics and graduated at university in Sociology and Communication Sciences.


  • tickYou are a creative professional who is interested in developing yourself and your creative business.
  • tickYou are aware that there are no quick fixes. Learning is a journey that works when you are fully committed to it. A guide like Peter de Kuster can bring awareness and help you navigate, but in the end it’s you who is in charge of your growth.
  • tickYou want to learn more about how to tell yourself a more powerful story, learn about blind spots, and get feedback.
  • tickYou are curious and want to engage in an interactive learning journey with Peter de Kuster.
  • tickYou are motivated to work in-between journeys on yourself (e.g. working on questions that will help you develop new storytelling, mindsets, skills, and behaviors).


The Hero’s Journey is all about your development. To make the most out of your journey with Peter, we ask you to prepare topics to work on with him. These topics can serve as a starting point for further in-depth exploration.


One Hour Virtual Coaching for Euro 150 (excluding VAT)

One Day Journey for EUR 1,200 (excl. VAT)

Two Day Journey for EUR 2,150 (excl. VAT)

Three Day Journey for EUR 2,950 (excl. VAT)



Who can sign up for The Hero’s Journey?

Creative professionals who wish to improve their storytelling, mindset(s) and develop their leadership skills.

What language do we speak in the journey?


Can I bring my own topics?

Yes, you get to choose your own topic.

Are journeys confidential?

Yes. Peter will not share anything that is discussed in the journey.

Where will the journeys take place?

Sessions will take place travelling with Peter a world city like Paris, Rome, Florence, Barcelona, Amsterdam, London, Antwerp, Venice, New York, Berlin, Madrid.

How do I sign up?

Send Peter an email to theherojourneyquestionnaires@gmail.com

How do I pay?

After you booked The Hero’s Journey by sending an email to Peter you will receive an email with info how to pay.

How do I book and reschedule a journey?

Once we’ve received your payment, our Program Coordinator will book your journey. She will also support you with rescheduling journeys if needed.

What is your cancellation policy?

Individual journeys can be postponed up to one week before the journey.