I looked at an interesting writing prompt this morning that I thought would be great practice for me and anyone, for that matter, who is just starting their writing venture.
Write about two wrongs a hero must right in their world.
If we use “The Hero’s Journey” term, we can try out what is known as “The Return with the Elixer”, to incorporate powerful themes of restoration into our endings without sounding preachy or cliche’.
For me, maybe you as well, the painful truth of stroytelling is finding the right ending or a suitable ending.
Condider the Fake-Out ending: the hero thinks he is done, or is chased (ex. by the shadow or devil figure back home, causing a road block). Our hero must confront the stories ultimate evil, whatever that my be for you, and face death in a deep and meaningful way. Through our heros strength, cleverness, loyalty, honesty, courage, or virtue (again, whichever you choose), your hero survives, experiencing some sort of paradigm or shifting resurrection.
Ending our story with this Resurrection may be very tempting, but if we think about it, this might not be enough for our readers.
There needs to be something else.
So let’s look at it this way: If we want our protagonist to come across as heroic, he/she must bring life and hope back into their community. Our protagonist serves the needs and wants of a simple character, not society as a whole.
Our hero is seperated from everyone else; his/her deeds have a multiplying effect. They expand beyond the protagonists’ existence and into the surrounding world we created, bringing hope, life, and purpose into our characters’ normal lives, where it once was lost.
Let’s talk about the Elixer. There are two kinds:
- Physical- life and food (ex. Hunger Games), rain to restore dead crops (ex. Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior), or friendship and a physical reunion (ex. Toy Story)
- Emotional or Spiritual- hope (ex. Star Wars: A New Hope), faith (ex. The Book of Exodus), or a renewed sense of marriage and family (ex. Back to the Future)
Stories such as these have a lasting impact on our readers because there is a sense that a wrong has been made right. Without dozens of drafts(Ugh!), these stories can be difficult to write. (I struggle as well!)
So how do we finish our story? Seeds of a perfect ending must be planted at the very beginning. The most important seed to plant: brokeness or injustice. Our hero exists to make right what is wrong. What is wrong in the world we created must be some form of brokeness or injustice.
As we write, we need to ask ourselves: What is wrong with my world? What is wrong with my neighbors world?
Consider: Has the problem existed in the past? Could it exist in the future? And…Could it exist in a completely different world or universe?
Every genre story ever written has a secret trick up its sleeve. It takes the injustice of our normal, everyday world, and transports them to different and fantastic times and places.
Practice will only make us better writers. Try asking yourself these questions using the prompt. I would love to read what you create. Let us read what you come up with in the comment section.
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