The hero has survived both the Ordeal and the Resurrection; he has lived through death. Now the hero gets to return to his starting place, go home, or continue the journey. The hero will now proceed with an awareness that they are commencing a new life that will never be the same.
Return with the Elixir
A true hero will bring something back from the special world to share with others. Something that may even have the power to save a wounded land, or bring order and prosperity. At the very least, he’ll implement change in his daily life, and use the lessons he’s learned on the journey to heal wounds.
There are 2 ways to end a story. There’s the circular ending and the open-ended ending. The circular form of storytelling is the most common in Western culture, and offers a feeling of closure and completion. The open-ended story form, however, tends to leave unanswered questions and unresolved conflicts.
Circular Story Form
This is the most popular form of storytelling, where the story moves back to its original starting point, and leaves no question unanswered. A circular plot provides a way to tie up loose ends and make the story feel more complete.
Having the hero return to the starting point will give the audience a point of comparison. They will be able to see how your hero has changed, how the old world loods different now, and how far that hero has come. Once the hero has returned, some writers will put the hero through an experience that may have been impossible for the hero at the beginning of the story.
Open-Ended Story Form
With an open ending, there will still be a few loose ends. This means that the storytelling continues even after the story is over. This can leave a lot of room for speculation, allowing the story to go on in a number of ways. Open-ended storytelling does a better job of portraying the world as an imperfect place. Not all questions have an answer.
Functions of the Return
The Return with the Elixir is fairly similar to the Reward phase of the journey. Both phases follow a death and rebirth sequence, and both relay the consequences of surviving death. However, this part of the story is the writers last chance to relay emotion to the audience. Be sure to finish the story in a way that has an emotional impact on the audience.
A twist towards the end of a story can liven up an otherwise flat ending. Consider adding some sort of plot twist that will surprise the audience, adding some amount of excitement.
Reward and Punishment
Another function of the Return with the Elixir is to hand out any rewards and punishments that may be due. This will restore balance to the story, and give it a feeling of completion. Villains should fall to their ultimate fate, but they shouldn’t fall too easily. Their punishment should correlate directly with the sins they’ve committed, providing the story with a sort of poetic justice.
Hero’s should also get what they have earned. Their reward shouldn’t be too great. The gifts they receive should instead be directly proportionate with the sacrifices they have made. The hero may even be punished in the return, if they have made no progress or sacrifice, or if they have failed to learn any lessons from the journey.
The Elixir is the real key to writing a successful return. What will the hero bring back from his journey to share? And how will it benefit his ordinary world? Regardless of who the hero shares it with, the Elixir will prove that the hero actually undertook the journey, and that death can be overcome. The Elixir can be literal or metaphoric, but the hero should have something to bring back.
For more information, try reading:
Categories: Character Development, Story Development Tags: character arc, character development, elixir, hero cycle, hero's journey, journey of a hero, return, return with the elixir, the elixir, the hero, the hero's journey, the ordeal, the resurrection, the return, the reward, the villain, villains
The Resurrection is a tricky part of the story, because the hero needs to experience another sequence of death and rebirth. Without this additional death and rebirth sequence, the story may not feel complete. This part of the story is most commonly referred to as the climax; the final and most dangerous encounter with death.
The trickiest part about the Resurrection is demonstrating that the hero has been through another change. The writer must somehow show that the hero has been through a change, rather than just talking about it. Somehow, the writer has to show that the hero has been resurrected.
The hero once again has to build a new self. Just as he had to change to enter the special world, he must change again to re-enter the ordinary world. This new personality should reflect what he once was, and all the lesson’s he’s learned on his journey.
A purpose of the resurrection is to cleanse the hero of death, and to remind him of lessons learned during the Ordeal.
It may seem confusing or pointless to have two ordeals in a story, but there is a point to it. Try thinking of these ordeals as a mid-term exam and a final exam. The Ordeal is like a mid-term exam, while the Resurrection is like a final exam. In the Ordeal, the hero must learn how to cope in the special world, in the Resurrection, the hero must learn how to put himself back into the ordinary world, carrying with him the lesson’s he has learned.
The easiest way to think of the Resurrection is as the climax; the final confrontation with the villain of the story. The difference between this and the Ordeal is that the level of danger is usually on a larger scale. For instance, now it’s not just the hero that’s in danger, but the entire world.
The hero should be the most active character at this part of the story. Try to avoid the mistake of having an ally step in, this part is all about the hero. He needs to figure out how to save himself.
In most stories, the hero dies and is reborn or resurrected at this point in the story. However, the case may be different with tragic heroes. The hero may actually die in this final confrontation. These tragic heroes are resurrected in one sense, in that they are usually remembered by the people they gave their life for.
Another way to execute the Resurrection is to give the hero a choice that will indicate if the hero really has learned the lesson of change. If it’s a difficult choice, it will test the hero’s values.
This is the climax of the story, therefore it should be the peak of excitement, drama, and tension in the story. In a way, it’s the highest point of the story.
This part of the story should bring a feeling of Catharsis, or an emotional breakthrough.
The Catharsis will also be the climax, or the highest point of the hero’s character arc. He has gone through a large, gradual change, and now is the point of the story where he really shows it.
This is the hero’s last chance to make a major change in his behavior. The hero may even move backward at this point, and disappoint those who are depending on him. However, a symbol of the resurrection may be when he changes his mind, takes up arms, and fights on.
The hero may have to provide proof of the special world in order for anyone to believe that he’s actually been there. Even if he knows the experience was real, it’s possible that no one else will believe him.
Sacrifice is a large part of the Resurrection. Something of the hero’s must be surrendered in order to achieve the ultimate goal of the story, even his life.
For more information, try reading:
Categories: Character Development, Story Development Tags: build your character, catharsis, character arc, character development, climax, climax of the story, creative writing, hero cycle, hero's journey, journey of a hero, ordeals, resurrection, the hero, the hero's journey, the ordeal, the resurrection, the writers journey, tragic hero, tragic heroes
The hero has now overcome one of the hardest parts of the Hero’s Journey, the Ordeal. He is now able to claim the Reward, and he deserves it. He has just encountered death, so he must face the consequences, and reap the rewards.
At this point in the story, the hero will finally receive recognition for overcoming death and the Ordeal. The Reward has many purposes, and takes many forms.
After surviving a challenge like the Ordeal, it’s natural to want to celebrate. He probably feels exhausted, and seeks relaxation and replenishment. The hero(s) may celebrate with a large meal or something similar. The celebration will provide a way to refuel before the return journey, which may prove to be fairly stressful.
The Reward part of the Hero’s Journey is a great place for a love scene. In this point of the story, the hero has truly surfaced, and undergone a beneficial character arc. He truly deserves love, he’s earned it.
In this point of the story, the hero should have whatever it is they went out seeking. Whether that be self-respect, or a pot of gold, it will now be in the hero’s possession.
The reward the hero went out seeking isn’t always handed to him. He may have had to steal it, which could result in repercussions later on in the journey.
Once the hero emerges from the Ordeal, he will be recognized as special, or different. He is now a person who as managed to overcome, or outwit, death.
After surviving death, the hero will see the world through new eyes. His perception of things will be different, and often a little more clear. He’ll better appreciate life, and see things for what they are. He’ll likely have better judgement in future challenges.
Along with having better perception, the hero may have gained better insight. He’ll have more talent in the way of seeing through deception, and determining the truth. The reward part of the journey can serve as a moment of clarity for the hero, especially if he has, or is, being deceived. This may occur is he’s traveling with the Shapeshifter, a less-than-beneficial character archetype.
Sometimes, the hero may not only experience better perception and insight, but he may also become clairvoyant or telepathic. He’ll be more intuitive, and more aware of the connectivity of things.
This part is important. The hero will begin to understand things about himself, who he really is, and who he wants to be. He’ll figure out where he fits in the large scheme of things.
In some stories, the hero may not experience perception/insight/clairvoyance/self-realization at all. In fact, the world around him may begin to feel distorted. The hero could become arrogant, and fail to really perceive anything at all. He may abuse his new found power, and become the very thing he was trying to fight in the first place.
For more information, try reading:
Categories: Character Development, Story Development Tags: character arc, character archetype, creative writing, hero, hero cycle, hero's inner development, hero's journey, hero's journey steps, heroes journey, journey hero, journey of a hero, the hero, the hero's journey, the ordeal, the reward, the shapeshifter