Good day, Writers,
We’re almost home with our study of The Hero’s Journey and find ourselves facing The Resurrection, which many think is the uplifting section of a story. Of course, that isn’t true. The Resurrection is one last another opportunity for action and suspense within your story. This part of your novel is the last life-or-death struggle for your hero, yet another confrontation with the evil ones. In fact, it is often the protagonists’ most dangerous meeting with death, or whatever it is he faces.
In many stories, this section takes place just before he returns home. It’s often considered a cleansing or purification to which your hero must submit before returning to his Ordinary World. However, the hero now has an additional arrow in his quiver, so to speak, for he is now armed with the hard-won knowledge gained from earlier encounters. It is here your hero pulls out that new arrow and smites this final aggressor, thus proving his acceptance of The Reward and his worthiness of ownership.
Sometimes the hero is pushed toward The Resurrection or even pulled, but regardless, the enemy has one last attempt to undo your hero, a final exam, if you will. One in which he proves he has learned and can apply the lessons of The Supreme Ordeal.
It is similar to The Supreme Ordeal faced earlier. Often more than just the hero is involved in this ordeal. Maybe his entire village is in danger, for one final challenger arises and he is forced to use the knowledge he gained during his trial to save more than just himself.
To me as a writer, it is one last opportunity to excite your readers when they least expect it.
Although we are using Luke and The Last Hope of the Star Wars saga as our model, I’ve always liked The Resurrection in Under the Tuscan Sun. The heroine does not hear from THE man in her life for a while so she travels to see him. It is in this part of that story where she finds she is not THE woman in his life, but merely A woman. (Talk about a trial!) So what does she do? She marshals all she has learned and falls in love with another man. Great Resurrection, don’t you think?
In Luke’s case, he’s already accomplished his mission of saving Princess Leia, but his final test is defeating the Death Star. In this scene, Luke is attacking in his X-Wing fighter and Obi Wan speaks to him from the afterlife. He tells Luke to, “Trust the Force.” Luke does, thus employing all his learning and experience, and destroys the Death Star and the Emperor to boot.
You see in this scene, Luke has garnered all he has learned, proved himself worthy of The Reward, destroys the REALLY BIG enemy and saves untold thousands in the process. (Explosions of a planetary scale! Now that is a dramatic Resurrection!)
In doing my research for this posting, one person said this was a time of peace and tranquility before he returns to his doorstep. Don’t believe it! This is a time of great, often ultimate, challenges. It’s a wonderful opportunity to again engage your readers and prove your hero worthy. Take advantage of this. You want your readers to be surprised by this and so entwined in your hero’s trial they almost lose heart for him. Use this time to ramp up the intensity of your work and have your readers sweat one last time.
Okay, we again have the bad guys’ defeat and our hero rises even higher in status and proves he is worthy of The Reward. Now, after your reader has caught his breath, you let them relax and feel good about everything. This is accomplished by way of The Return. We’ll get into that next week.
My plan is to finish with these lessons of The Hero’s Journey then outline a couple quick stories showing how to put this entire concept in use. (Wish me luck on that one…)
Until then, my friends, good writing.
C. Patrick Schulze
Author of Born to be Brothers