Friday, August 21, 2009

The Road Back

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Good day, Writers.

We’re continuing with our discussion, one-sided though it may be, of The Hero’s Journey where we’ve reached that part of the story where your hero decides to head on home.

This may sound somewhat simple in concept, but as with everything about The Hero’s Journey, there is more here than it seems.

Remember, your hero has fought the great battle, defeated the ultimate enemy, (or has he?), and now holds the great elixir in hand. You’d think things would get simple now, wouldn’t you? A bus ride home and back to everyday living, right?


Your hero is not out of the woods just yet. He knows it is time to return home, but he has yet to navigate that treacherous road for no telling what might happen on the way! He’s carries this great reward with him at all times but there might still be others who want it for themselves. Did the big bad wolf really die? Might your hero encounter others who, now that the big Cahoonah is gone, think they can attain the treasure for themselves? Anything can happen as he tries to return home.

A few things are certain. This is the time when your hero must grow into a better person than he was before his quest began. He needs to realize the value of what he has won and how this great boon should be shared with those in his Ordinary World. He must somehow grow to accept the element of sacrifice he needs to make.

Also, this part of your story often has the best chase scenes, for those who still wish to take the prize from your hero now come after him. Your protagonist might be prime pickings and here come everyone else who wants to wrest the prize from him! (See the chase scene now?) A good scene might go like this, the hero inadvertently brings those stalking him into his Ordinary World and he must again fight to save his home and family. (Good stuff!)

Finally, the hero might not want to return home. What if the locals crowned him king and we all know being king is good. You can see where The Road Home needs some sort of event to push your hero on his homeward path. All of a sudden, The Road Home turns into a conflict between the hero’s head and his heart. He might want to stay, but some force or event forces him on the way.

Keep in mind, like any strong turning point, the action found within The Road Back might alter the direction of your entire story. You, as author, must decide if and how all this happens.

Okay now, we’ve got your hero haven been pushed toward home, more people are chasing him and he’s come to understand he has to fight his way home and share his prize.

Now what?

The Resurrection, what else? More on that next time.

Until then, good writing.

C. Patrick Schulze
Author of "Born to be Brothers"


  1. Hi Patrick. I just wanted to say that the discussion is not as one-sided as you think. Albeit, I haven't contributed to it, I have been reading and participating in my head. Well, actually, I am writing a little love story and keeping The Hero's Journey in mind as I write it. I have to tell you, it has turned into quite a journey in writing. For me at least.

    How would you apply this part of the journey to a love story?

  2. Good evening, Knittymommy,

    How one would apply The Road Home to a love story would be the same as with any other story.

    Your hero experiences something that pushes her home, she must have a conflit between her head and her heart, (and possibly other people), and she needs to suffer at least one additional crisis.

    In a love story, it might go something like this...

    Your hero's quest was to regain a lost love. Her reward was to have this person in her life again. The Road Home might be lingering issues they experience and how she goes about solving those issues.

    Of course there are any number of storylines here, and if you give me a better understanding of your story to this point, maybe I can be of further assistance.

    Hope this helps.


  3. I've never really realized how EASY it is to put the American Civil War into the Hero's Journey. Well, I kinda figured it when my English teacher covered it in Freshman English, but not till now did I realize that The Road Back covers a Confederate going home so perfectly.

  4. Hey, Ryan,

    The Hero's Journey works for almost any story.