Friday, November 5, 2010

The Hero's Journey - The Road Back

I know, I know, we’re all having so much fun on our road trip, it’s almost a shame to have to go back to the real world. That’s exactly what we have to do, however. I mean, they don’t call this stage The Road Back for nothing, right?

No one wants to go back home when they’re in a new and wondrous place, and that includes the Hero. Very rarely, the Hero will stay in the special world, but more often than not, he’ll make the trek back to the ordinary world with all the lessons he’s learned along the way. This is where the main character rededicates himself to the role of Hero and his place in the grand adventure. Just because he’s going back home, that doesn’t mean the reset button is hit and everything returns to normal. It also doesn’t mean he goes back home unscathed. By surviving the Ordeal and claiming the Reward, our Hero is now so much more than he was before… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

You know those thresholds that the Hero has been crossing since stepping into the Special World? Well, this is another one, except it’s the threshold of the Ordinary World. The Threshold Guardian for this one, however, can be anyone. It could be his companions who have accompanied him this far and would love it if he stayed. It could be his own desire to belong in this new place, refusing to go back to being ordinary again. Then again, it might be the Shadow if the villain of the piece wasn’t finished off in the Ordeal. This last one lends itself well to a chase scene, a sure way to spice up this piece of the Hero’s Journey and amp things up after relaxing in the Reward stage.

I wish I had some incredible way to illustrate how the Road Back applies to Rob’s Journey, some dazzling example that would completely wow you and demonstrate how layered this stage can be. Honestly, though, his Road Back at this point is a literal road back home from the NaNoWriMo after party. On the way back, though, he has plenty of time to reflect on his success and realize that he’s very capable of writing a novel. In fact, he’s already got one in the bag. What is he going to do with it? That’s the question that weighs heavily on his mind as he returns to his Ordinary World.

We’re nearing the very end of our Journey! I’m kind of sad about that. I feel like we’ve been through a lot in the course of this year. We’ve been to the Special World and have returned… from the dead? Why not? Next up: Resurrection! (Bring your own phoenix metaphor.)


  1. "Very rarely, the Hero will stay in the special world, but more often than not, he’ll make the trek back to the ordinary world with all the lessons he’s learned along the way." With respect (and without trying to sound like an asshole), this is slightly incorrect. Wherever he returns, it has changed because of the journey. He actually always returns to an Ultimate World. See Kal's 510 stage interpretation at

  2. Not always, but you're getting ahead of me. :) I'll address the Hero's impact on the Ordinary World in the last leg of the Hero's Journey, Return With the Elixir.

  3. Looking forward to your interpretation :)


Writers love feedback on their work! Constructive criticism, comments and questions are always welcome, just keep it clean for the kids!