Apr 19, 2012

Q is for Quest

The Hunger Games - a modern quest story

Emily has an assignment to plot out a quest novel (what a cool teacher she must have!) and write the last chapter. This is very good timing for me, as I needed a Q word for today.

The Quest is a common story structure involving a character on a search for... something. It can even be an internal something (forgiveness, confidence, etc). Or it might be a literal quest (find the holy grail, return the sword of Okinesphere to its rightful place, save a princes). Often this is referred to as The Hero's Journey. Basically the 'hero' (they might not start out very heroic) will receive a 'call to action' (sometimes a shove) and be on their quest, with some magical help/advice from a wizard/elder. They will face challenges, opponents and bad hair days. The story will peak when they are in their darkest time (down a pit, facing an uber-bad guy, or just apparently failing all over) it will seem there is no hope for our hero to succeed. But then they find that inner strength/forgotten sword of Okinesphere/Bad guys secret weakness to overcome this doom and gloom stage and rise up to fight one more time. The final battle usually ends in success (but not always) and the hero returns to the start of the story, only this time changed forever in some way. 

There are whole books dedicated to this structure and I sometimes use it for my writing workshops for kids.

This is a must see learning site - you can choose your characters and fill out the story prompts to plot out your hero's journey. Designed for school kids, but awesome for any writer, especially beginners wanting a helpful push. Check out:

And here's a chart you can fill out for your own Hero's Journey - just click on it for the full size and print (I found this at ReadingArt.Info):

If you like the picture of Katniss Everdeen, you'll love this blog that shows how The Hunger Games fits the Hero's Journey. After all, Katniss answers a call to action when her baby sister is put in danger.
The Gallery of Heroes - Katniss Everdeen

How would you go with Emily's assignment - could you write your last chapter first? I've never tried it before, but sounds like a challenge!

17 comments:

  1. Thanks for mentioning my Gallery of Heroes and the entry for Katniss.

    You might be interested in my take on the hero's journey for a younger crowd (I used it that Katniss post too) in video form. https://vimeo.com/19459828

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  2. Great Q post. I had the idea of the ending before I had the complete idea of the novel in my second. It was weird to say the least.

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  3. I wish I had thatteacher when I was at school. I often write scnes out of order as they occur to me. I have to get it down on paper before I forget.

    mood

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  4. I've never tried writing the last chapter first. I really should try it some time because I have all sorts of troubles with the last chapters--even when I do outlines.

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  5. I wish I had been given assignments like that in school. What fun.

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  6. Great Q post! I wouldn't be able to write my last chapter first. I have problems writing the last chapter when I come to it!

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  7. I always ask myself what I want my character to learn by the end, but I've never written the ending first! Interesting.

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  8. Have done the last first which often creates a new beginning (from what was originally in my head)
    and thanks for all the great helps

    ladys knight

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  9. Great find, Charmaine! I'm following you back from the Shade of the Cherry Tree. ; )

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  10. I am fascinated by how the hero's journey ties so many cultures together through their myths and folk tales. And the basic template you can put on almost all stories. What does the main character want and by the end of the story does he or she get it? Even opera stories fit this template. Charts and diagrams help. But I think in the beginning, the idea floats out there and begins organizing itself.

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  11. I guess all stories are based on a quest. Blog on!

    http://francene-wordstitcher.blogspot.com

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  12. that is a very cool challenge! i am going to try it on the piece i've been sketching and just about ready to start writing. thanks!

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  13. excellent site. Gonna have a play with that later.

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  14. I have written my last chapter first and my first chapter last. That often works for me. Other times I'm very linear. Wish I could understand how my brain works. Loved your chart.

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  15. don't think i would ever want to write my last chapter first--although i have known the ending all the time, sometimes

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  16. Great post! I do like Quest novels! Great diagram, too. Thanks! Take care and good writing!

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