The Plotting Workshop: Return with the Elixir

return-with-the-elixirThis is it! The last little bit of this series that deals with The Writer’s Journey. Once you’ve finished this assignment, you’ll have your entire story arc planned out. There’s a lot of work left to do, but I’m so proud of you for getting this far.

Today we’re going to focus on the part of the Writer’s Journey that Volger calls the Return with the Elixir. Your main character has survived their final brush with death and now they’re on their final journey home–wherever that may be–with their prize.

We’re going to think about what your hero gains at the end of their journey, and what they bring back to share with his new ordinary world. Vogler calls that ‘thing’ an elixir.

The Elixir itself can take on any of several forms–definitely read “Return with the Elixir” in The Writer’s Journey. Your hero might bring something physical home to share, or their elixir might be true love or a heightened sense of responsibility. If you’re writing a tragedy, the elixir will be that tragedy and it will be the audience that learns from it, rather than the hero.

Read “The Elixir” in The Writer’s Journey.


The Twist

This last section of your story starts with the final of five key plot points: the third act twist. Something happens to change your MC’s fortunes once again, this time toward the tone of the end of your story.

Unless you’re writing a tragedy, that means that when all seems completely lost after the main climax of your story, a twist happens to turn things around. If you are writing a tragedy, then of course the twist turns things from the high of the climax to something very dark.

After the climax, the dark night of your hero’s soul, they might not know how they’re going to survive. Something, some twist, happens right here that will show them the way. Think about your favorite books and movies. What happens about three quarters of the way through that changes everything? Go ahead and reply to this email, let me know what you come up with.

You need to think about what your MC is going to bring back to their new Ordinary World with them from this adventure. What are they going to share with their little bit of the world (or, maybe, the world at large)?

Vogler writes that the reward, the elixir, should be proportional to the sacrifice that the hero has made. Also, if your hero has failed to learn an important lesson, there should be some sort of a punishment.

This is also the time to think about whether or not your story needs an epilogue. Most stories don’t, but if yours needs a final bit of closure, this is the place for it. Often an epilogue skips ahead, giving the reader a deeper peek at the new ordinary world the hero now inhabits.

Okay, grab your notebook. Label the next page “Return with the Elixir” and answer these questions.

  • What is the elixir your hero brings back? Is it physical or emotional?
  • Does your hero take on more responsibility in their new ordinary world than they had in their old ordinary world? Have they become a leader in some way?
  • Is there a romance in your story? How does it resolve?
  • Who is the hero at the end of the story? Have there been any disappointments or surprises?
  • Does your story have an epilogue? Describe it.

Make sure to come by Facebook and share your work.

If you want to see this whole course on Teachable, for free, click here.

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