This is the eleventh in a series of posts talking about the story structure known as “The Hero’s Journey.” I’m borrowing heavily from“The Writer’s Journey: A Mythical Structure for Writers 3rd Edition” by Christopher Vogler. This is my interpretation of it, and I’ve tried to highlight some pitfalls I see writers falling into. Click here to review other installments of Story Structure.
At last, we’re at the Climax of the story. The Stakes are at their highest, and everything the Hero has fought for and sacrificed for is coming to a head. As the name “Resurrection” implies, your Hero must not only face death, but in some way, he must die and be reborn anew. Some Heroes actually physically die. Some appear dead or hopelessly lost, only to return miraculously saved. Your Hero must risk everything. This is the make-or-break moment of the story. This the “The Point” of the story, the moral, the lesson you wanted to impart to your readers. This is where nothing get left unsaid, and souls get bared.
Elements of Resurrection
- Everything hangs in the balance. There is nothing left on the table, and every character is “all-in.”
- Your Hero makes a major sacrifice for the greater good.
- Your Hero learns something about himself he didn’t know, remember, or care about that changes everything.
- Your Hero transforms into something greater, even if just for a moment.
- Your Hero is forever changed by the experience.
- The Villain is defeated, because he doesn’t learn or transform like the Hero does.
Now for our Benchwarming Quarterback. He has fought hard, but time is running out. His team is still losing. His Enemies have tried everything. Blitzing. Sending in bad plays. Calling penalties. Illegal hits. His body is bruised and aching, he can barely stand up, yet he keeps fighting, knowing his father could die any second. It’s the final seconds of the 4th Quarter, and they’re down by five points. They have time for one more play, but our Hero is suddenly struck by something.
What is he doing? Why is he playing football? Shouldn’t he be by his father’s side? He realizes that by returning to the game, he’s still running from responsibilities, running from himself. He hasn’t changed. He’s only tried harder. Here’s the critical piece of the whole Hero’s Journey. Here’s the one takeaway I’d like you to have from all of these posts. Your Hero must change. Otherwise the whole entire story has been a waste of time. Our Benchwarming QB is about to die. He hands the ball to someone else and leaves the field. The entire crowd is stunned. He grabs his girlfriend, and they go to her car. There’s time for one last play, one last chance to win, but he’s gone. To everyone on the field, it’s as if he just up and died. It’s a race to see if he can get back to the hospital. His Resurrection occurs during this car ride, and when he steps back out, he’s a new person. He may never play football again, but he’s no longer that irresponsible benchwarmer he started out as.
- Something your Hero holds dear must die.
- If you have anything left to reveal, do it now.
- Your Villain is pulling out all the stops as well. To him, victory is at hand.
- Demonstrate the reason why you wrote the book. Make your point.
- Find out what the most important thing to your Hero.
- Your Hero must face his Worst Fear.
- Your Hero can’t win unless everyone wins. Sometimes a Hero even needs to lose to win. What does he gain here?
- You don’t have to tie up everything. Just the main threads. Sub-plots finish here as well. Leave something for the sequel. ;)
- Change is not the same as trying harder. That means it’s not enough to be “better, stronger, or faster,” because that’s really just More of the Same.
How does your Hero change? How does this let him overcome his final obstacles on his path to Resurrection? What was the critical lesson?