We’ve finally come to the end of The Hero’s Journey, The Return with the Elixir. Our hero is on his way home to his now not so Ordinary World, having defeated every imaginary bad guy in creation. There will be no more conflicts to resolve, no more challenges to face and no more evil-doers with which to contend. In this portion of your manuscript he is the acknowledged hero in both his Ordinary World and the world from which he is emerging. This is where your reader shouts, “Wow! That was great!” and talks to all his friends about your book. (We hope they do anyway, for if they don’t this book is DIW - dead in the water.)
Considering our now familiar Luke Skywalker, think about the celebration after the destruction of the Death Star. He and Han Solo walk up to Princess Leia to receive their medals amidst the adulation of all the rebellion. Everybody smiles and the guy in the white hat rides off into the sunset to great fanfare. Yipee!
We know what happens here, but why does it need to happen this way? Some say it is to wrap things up, finish the circle of your story. (Blah…) Others say it is the representation of life where one must learn to lick their wounds, if you will, and carry on with life. (Give me a break! This is a story!) Some have even said it is to show us how to live our own lives with a sense of responsibility. (Not my fiction…)
We’re writing fiction, right? In my mind, the Return with the Elixir is all about entertaining our reader. Nothing more. It is a reward to your readers for their time spent in reading your story. They deserve to sit back, close the book and feel good. Everything is right with the world and your reader feels the satisfaction of a book well written and enjoyed.
What is this elixir, by the way? It can be anything you wish it to be. Your protagonist may return home with a physical treasure, or knowledge, or love, or wisdom, or whatever he needed to succeed in his quest. It can be anything, as long as it is necessary for your hero to become what he needs to become.
Without doubt, however, what is necessary is for the reader to sit back having enjoyed your work. That is what it’s all about anyway, isn’t it?
Okay, boys and girls, in these twelve postings, we seen how your hero traverses from his Ordinary World into the depths and back. I hope you see how this will make for a good story every time. (Which is what fiction is all about anyway - a good story.)
If you’ll take the time to learn how to use The Hero’s Journey in your fiction, you’ll become a good storyteller and have the primary step under your belt in having people want to read your work.
In subsequent postings I plan to do two things: one is to show how The Hero’s Journey will apply to any type of fiction and, two, to show you how you can ignore large parts of The Hero’s Journey in your writing. (Bet you weren’t expecting that!)
Until my next posting, good writing.
Author of “Born to be Brothers”