After your main character has lived through the Ordeal, which involved surviving a life or death situation, it’s time for them to collect their reward. The next part of your story is the time when they reap the consequences of surviving their ordeal.
Often the reward involves a party or some other physical celebration for the MC and their allies. Vogler uses the example of the buffalo barbeque scene in Dances with Wolves that happens after the MC’s first hunt. The characters in my book Rebel Nation have a bon fire after their ordeal.
This is a good place for a love scene if you have a romantic element to your story.
The Reward part of your story is the time for your protagonist to grab and hold on to at least part of their goal. There’s still half a book to go, so they aren’t going to get everything they want or need yet. But they’ll get a taste.
And so will the reader. This scene is the reader’s reward for sticking with the hero through their story to this point. It’s fun. It’s satisfying. It feels good.
There is one assignment in this email. You’ll want to read “The Reward” in The Writer’s Journey.
A Taste of Success
Taking possession of the reward is sometimes an aggressive, physical act. The MC is amped up by surviving their ordeal and defying death. They have a new confidence that will serve them well through the next phase of their story–which unbeknownst to them is leading up to a scene that is often called The Dark Night of the Soul.
Think about what your hero wants and needs. Why did they enter the special world of the story in the first place? After the Ordeal, are they able to see some part of their goal right in front of them? How will they reach for it? Are they willing to steal it? Fight for it?
The MC finding the courage and confidence to boldly take possession of the reward is a good way to show the change that is already taking place inside of them.
Take a look at the “Trickster” character archetype in The Writer’s Journey. It’s possible that there is a character that will emerge in your story who will try to steal the reward out from under the MC. They might hide as an ally. They might be an outright antagonist. If your story has a trickster, they’ll probably snatch at the Reward while making the hero and the reader laugh.
After surviving the Ordeal, your hero might have some sort of epiphany. They might realize something about themselves that they never knew before. Some truth about their parentage or some interior aspect of themselves that eluded them before. They might gain a stronger drive toward their goal. Sometimes their ephiphany causes a major shift, or direction change, for the MC as they move forward in the story.
Get out your notebook, label the next page “The Reward” and answer these questions.
- What did your hero learn by confronting death?
- What do they take possession of? Is there a physical reward of some kind? Is their reward entirely interior?
- What is the aftermath of the Ordeal? Think about both the positive and the negative affects of the mid-point climax.
- Does your MC have an epiphany? Describe it.
- Does your story change direction after the Ordeal?
- Is there a love scene in the aftermath of the Ordeal? How did the Ordeal solidify this relationship?
- Is there a character who will try to steal the Reward from the MC? What is the Trickster’s motivation?
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