Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Reward

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Good day, Writers,

I hope you’ve been following along with The Hero’s Journey, for we have reached that point in your story where the hero receives his reward, which is the purpose of his entire ordeal. The Reward is also known as Seizing the Sword. I’ll bet you can guess why.

Your hero has triumphed and survived his Supreme Ordeal and now attains that item for which he has worked so diligently. Compensation for all his hard work is finally granted him. He has slayed the Great Beast, what or whoever that was, and your hero deserves his just rewards. In fact, your readers expect him to receive something wonderful for all his efforts.

What is it your hero receives? Well, it could be most anything. Maybe it is the ring which contains ultimate power or even the destruction of that ring as with our famous hobbits. It might be the mighty sword of righteousness as with the young King Arthur in The Sword in the Stone. It could even be true love as we see in almost any boy-meets-girl-boy-loses-girl-boy-gets-girl story. Whatever it is, your hero must realize or receive something of great value as a reward for his torment and success.

As in our example of Luke Skywalker in A New Hope, can you identify his reward? After all, he didn’t get the gold or the girl, for that matter, as did Han Solo. What great prize did Luke receive? He found his father and succeeded in turning him from the dark side. For, if you remember, it is Darth Vader who flings The Emperor to his death.

Your protagonist has outsmarted sure destruction at least once, and with the granting of the great reward, your hero has earned the right to celebrate. Were there any celebrations after The Emperor’s death? Yeah, boy! You’ll see these festivities in story after story and they bring your reader an important and welcome sense of release after so much action and mayhem of the Supreme Ordeal.

Your hero has become whole once again and when the celebrations are over it’s time to return to his Ordinary World, isn’t it? (Remember way back then?) However, it’s often a good thing for the hero to face another, unexpected trial. (Oh no! Not again!) How often has the monster seemingly risen from death only to strike once more before he truly dies? (Remember in Alien when Sigourney Weaver finds the creature in the escape pod?) How exciting can this final surprise attack be to your hero and your readers? What if he almost loses his hard-won gains? (Oh, the drama!) Though it is not necessary, another quick scene of unexpected action can work wonders for your audience. (Go on! Toy with their emotions! You’re allowed.) Don’t forget, however, the hero must win in the end.

Now, with the reward in hand and with the drunken celebratory revelers once more asleep in their warm, cozy beds, your hero must ready his return to home.

And what does that lead to? It leads to the Road Back, the next step in The Hero’s Journey, of course. That is the subject of my next posting relative to The Hero’s Journey.

Until then, good writing.

C. Patrick Schulze
Author of “Born to be Brothers”

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