New Narratives: A new semester

I’m excited yet nervous for this new semester, its going to be exciting to see what new trials that lie ahead and what new things I will get to learn throughout.

We were welcomed back to the new semester by Conánn Fitzpatrick who gave us a lecture and showed us an easier way than what we have been doing to create bouncing balls in Autodesk Maya, he explained that each tutor has their own way of doing tasks but each way still works, this just shows you that there are many ways to get the desired outcome and it still being correct. He used locators and parent child relationships in order to influence the movement, rotation and squash and stretch of the ball, which made it a whole lot easier to work with as it allowed us to use much less key frames and was more organised. Conánn also talked about the graph editor and different ways in which we can use that to make the graph editor much easier to use to gain an accurate bouncing ball animation.

Conánn also went over how we don’t want any triangles or N-Gons in our 3D models as they won’t divide evenly when we want to increase the resolution and don’t deform nicely either. For a clean typology it is important that we keep the frame in quads. Conánn also taught us some general naming conventions such as “_geo” for any geometry and “_loc” for any locators.


The first project of the new semester

When hearing about the book, The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogler, that we are going to read for our first project and our team will present on next Tuesday, I immediately remembered this video called what makes a hero by Matthew Winkler. What trials unite not only Harry Potter or Frodo Baggins but many of literature’s most interesting heroes? And what do ordinary people have in common with these literary heroes? Matthew Winkler takes us step-by-step through the crucial events that make or break a hero.

Team 9: “12 Return with the Elixir” (page 215 -228) 13

In our team we all decided to go off and read the Return with the Elixir as we all felt that it would benefit us all to know the whole chapter rather than taking different parts of the chapter. After we had all read it, while making sure to take notes we came in the next day to compare notes and talk about our layout of the presentation.



  • They always proceed with a sense that they are commencing a new life
  • Return with the elixir – something special from that world to share with others
  • Quest for Fire has a wonderful return sequence that shows how storytelling probably began.
  • Returning with the elixir means implementing change in your daily life and using the lesson of adventure to heal your wounds.
  • It is like maturing and growing up.


  • Denouement – the final part of a book, play or a series of events, also meaning return.
  • The plot lines are knotted together to create conflict or tension.
  • tying up loose ends
  • The story is weaving and it must be finished up properly or it will seem tangled or ragged.
  • It’s important to return to deal with subplots and all the issues and questions you’ve raised in the story.
  • However it’s good to raise new questions further into the story but all the past questions should be addressed or at least restated.
  • Sometimes writers strive to create a feeling of closing the circle on all the storylines and themes.


  • Two story forms – two branches to end a hero’s journey.
  • Circular form is more conventional and preferred in western culture and American movies.
  • Circular form gives a sense of closure and completion.
  • Open ended approach is more popular in Asia and in Australian and European movies.
  • Open ended approach gives a sense of unanswered questions and ambiguities and unresolved conflicts.
  • Both forms allow growth in awareness but in the open ended form their problems may not be tied up so neatly. (cliff hanger)


  • The circular story form.
  • Circular or closed form is where the narratives return to its starting point.
  • The circular story form can end up where the ending is visual or metaphoric way, with a replay of an initial image, or a repetition of a line of dialogue or situation for the beginning sequence but with a new meaning.
  • This can make the story feel complete.
  • Musical compositions also can follow circular form as the music from the start can be played at the end again.
  • Bringing the hero back to the start at the end allows a comparison.
  • It allows the audience to see how far the hero has come, how she has changed and how her old world looks different now.
  • The hero was able to overcome in the Return what they couldn’t in the beginning.


In Ghost, the hero was unable to say “I love you” in his Ordinary World. But at the Return, having died and passed many tests in the land of death, he is able to say these all-important words so that his still-living wife can hear them.

In Ordinary People, the young hero Conrad is so depressed in his Ordinary World that he can’t eat the French toast his mother makes for him. It’s an outward sign of his inner problem, his inability to accept love because he hates himself for surviving his brother. In the Return, having passed through several death-and-rebirth ordeals, he goes to apologize to his girlfriend for acting like a jerk. When she asks him to come inside for some breakfast, this time he finds he has an appetite. His ability to eat is an outward sign of his inner change.

  • Achievement of perfection.
  • “and they lived happily ever after”
  • Fairy tales bring the shattered family back into balance, back into completion.
  • Weddings are a popular way to end stories, it’s a new beginnings.
  • A new relationship is also a new beginning.


In Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart makes a difficult Resurrection sacrifice, giving up the chance to be with the woman he loves. His reward, the Elixir he brings away from the experience, is his new alliance with Claude Rains. As he says, in one of the most famous tag lines in the history of the movies, “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”


  • Open-Ended story form.
  • The storytelling goes on after the story is over, it leaves the audience wondering.
  • Writers of the open-ended persuasion prefer to leave moral conclusions for the reader or viewer.
  • Some questions have no answers, some have many. Some stories end not by answering questions or solving riddles, but by posing new questions that resonate in the audience long after the story is over.
  • Open ended is more appropriate for sophisticated and realistic stories.


  • Functions of the return.
  • Return is similar to reward as both follow a moment of death and rebirth and both show what the hero gets from surviving death, their reward for their return.
  • Some functions of seizing the Sword may also appear in the Return, such as taking possession, celebrating, sacred marriage, campfire scenes, self-realization, vengeance, or retaliation.
  • Return is the last chance to touch the emotions of the audience.
  • It must finish your story so that it satisfies or provokes your audience as you intended.
  • It bears special weight because of its unique position at the end of the work, and it’s also a place of pitfalls for writers and their heroes.


  • Surprise.
  • A return can fall flat if everything is resolved too neatly or just as expected.
  • It should untie the plot threads but should also have surprise within it as well as being unexpected or have a sudden revelation.


The Greeks and Romans often built a “recognition” scene into the endings of their plays and novels. A young man and woman, raised as shepherds, discover to everyone’s surprise they are prince and princess, promised to each other in marriage long ago.

In the tragic mode, Oedipus discovers the man he killed in the Ordeal was his father and the woman he joined with in sacred marriage was his own mother. Here the recognition is cause for horror rather than joy.


  • The Return may have a twist to it. This is another case of misdirection: You lead the audience to believe one thing, and then reveal at the last moment a quite different reality. (plot twist)
  • There is usually an ironic or cynical tone to such Returns
  • The audience is caught foolishly thinking that human beings are decent or that good does triumph over evil.


A less sardonic version of a twist Return can be found in the work of writers like O. Henry, who sometimes used the twist to show the positive side of human nature, as in his short story “The Gift of the Magi.” A poor young husband and wife make sacrifices to surprise each other with Christmas presents. They discover that the husband has sold his valuable watch to buy his wife a clip for her beautiful long hair, and the wife has cut off and sold her lovely locks to buy him a fob for his beloved watch. The gifts and sacrifices cancel each other out but the couple is left with a treasure of love.


  • Reward and Punishment, A specialized job of Return is to hand out final rewards and punishments.
  • Villains should earn their ultimate fate by their evil deeds and they should not get off too easily. Audiences hate that. Punishment should fit the crime and have the quality of poetic justice. It should directly relate to his sins.
  • Heroes should get what’s coming to them as well. Too many movie heroes get rewards they haven’t really earned. The reward should be proportionate to the sacrifice they have offered. You don’t get immortality for being nice. Also if heroes have failed to learn a lesson, they may be penalized for it in the Return.


  • The Elixir, The real key to the final stage of the Hero’s Journey is the Elixir.
  • What does the hero bring back with her from the Special World to share upon her Return?
  • Whether it’s shared within the community or with the audience, bringing back the Elixir is the hero’s final test.
  • It proves she’s been there, it serves as an example for others, and it shows above all that death can be overcome.
  • Like everything else in the Hero’s Journey, returning with the Elixir can be literal or metaphoric.
  • The Elixir may be an actual substance or medicine brought back to save an endangered community (a feature of several “Star Trek” T V plots and the object of the quest in Medicine Man).
  • It may be literal treasure wrested from the Special World and shared within a group of adventurers.
  • It may be any of the things that drive people to undertake adventure: money, fame, power, love, peace, happiness, success, health, knowledge, or having a good story to tell. The best Elixirs are those that bring hero and audience greater awareness.


In The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, the physical treasure of gold is revealed to be worthless dust, and the real Elixir is the wisdom to live a long and peaceful life.

In the tales of King Arthur, the Grail is the Elixir that, once shared, heals the wounded land. The Fisher King can rest easy again. If Percival and the knights had kept the Grail for themselves, there would have been no healing.

  • If a traveller doesn’t bring back something to share, he’s not a hero, he’s a heel, selfish and unenlightened. He hasn’t learned his lesson. He hasn’t grown.
  • Returning with the Elixir is the last test of the hero, which shows if he’s mature enough to share the fruits of his quest.


  • The elixir of love.
  • Love is the most powerful and popular elixirs.


In Romancing the Stone Joan Wilder has surrendered her old fantasies about men and said goodbye to her old, uncertain personality. The payoff for her is that unexpectedly, Jack Colton comes for her after all, miraculously transporting a romantic sailboat to her New York neighbourhood to sweep her away. He has transmuted the Elixir he was after — the precious emerald — into another form, love. Joan gets her reward of romance, but she has earned it by learning that she could live without it.


  • The world is changed
  • The wisdom which heroes bring back with them may be so powerful that is forces change not only in them but around them also.


There is a beautiful image for this in Excalibur. When Percival brings the Grail back to the ailing Arthur, the King revives and rides out with his knights again. They are so filled with new life that flowers burst into bloom at their passing. They are a living Elixir, whose mere presence renews nature.


  • The elixir of responsibility.
  • Heroes take a wider responsibility at the return giving up their loner status for a place of leadership or service within a group. Families and relationships get started, cities are founded.


Mad Max, the loner hero of George Miller’s Road Warrior and Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome, forsakes his solitude to become Mentor and foster-father to a race of orphaned children. The Elixir is his skill at survival and his recollection of the old world before the apocalypse, which he passes on to the orphans.


  • The elixir of tragedy.
  • Heroes die or are defeated, brought down by their flaws.
  • This elixir brings learning, whether it’s the audience as they see the errors and consequences.


  • Sadder but wiser.
  • Heroes look back at their wrong turns on the path, a feeling of closure is made as they can see that they are sadder but wiser for having gone through the experience.
  • Its stops the hero from making the same mistake again as they have learned from their mistakes.
  • It makes an example for the audience as to not choose those paths.


The heroes of Risky Business and White Men Can’t Jump have been down a road of learning that mixed pain and pleasure. They ultimately lose the prize of love, must Return without the woman of their dreams, and have to console themselves with the Elixir of experience. These stories create a feeling that the account is closed and the heroes are being presented with the final balance.


  • Sadder but no wiser.
  • They acknowledge that they are a fool which is the first step to recovery.
  • The worse kind of fool is the one who doesn’t get it, Sliding back into the same behaviour.
  • This is also a kind of circular closure.


Perhaps he is a clown or Trickster, like Bob Hope in the Crosby-Hope pictures or Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours or Trading Places, who swears he has learned his lesson. However, in the end he fumbles the Elixir and returns to an original error. He may fall back to his original, irrepressible attitude, closing the circle and dooming himself to repeat the adventure.


  • Epilogue
  • Just as some stories may have a prologue that precedes the main action, there may also be a need for an epilogue that follows the bulk of the story.
  • An epilogue or postscript on rare occasions can serve to complete the story, by projecting ahead to some future time to show how the characters turned out.


Terms of Endearment has an epilogue that shows the characters a year after the main story has ended. The feeling communicated is that even though there is sadness and death, life goes on. Look Who’s Talking has an epilogue that shows the birth of the baby hero’s little sister nine months after the main plot has been resolved.

Stories that show a group of characters at a formative or critical period, like American Graffiti or war movies such as Glory or The Dirty Dozen, may end with a short segment that tells how the characters died, progressed in life, or were remembered.

A League of Their Own has an extensive epilogue in which an aging woman ballplayer, having remembered her career in flashback for the main body of the film, visits the Baseball Hall of Fame and sees many of her teammates. The fates of the players are revealed and the surviving women, now in their sixties, stage a game to show that they still know how to play ball. Their spirit is the Elixir that revives the hero and the audience.


  • Pitfalls of the return
  • The return is very important and can cause the story to fall apart in the final moments
  • It can fall apart when the Return is too abrupt, prolonged, unfocused, unsurprising, or unsatisfying.


Many people faulted the twist ending of Basic Instinct for failing to resolve uncertainty about a woman’s guilt.


  • Unresolved subplots
  • Failing to bring all the elements together, leaving the threads dangling
  • Perhaps in the hurry to finish and deal with the main characters, the fates of secondary characters and ideas are forgotten about, even though they may be extremely interesting to the audience.
  • Older films are more complete and satisfying as they took more time to work out every subplot
  • A rule of thumb: Subplots should have at least three “beats” or scenes distributed throughout the story, one in each act.
  • Each character should come away with some variety of Elixir or learning.


  • Too many endings
  • Although the ending should to seem laboured or repetitive
  • KISS system, that is: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
  • Many stories fail because they have too many endings.
  • The audience senses the story is over but the writer, perhaps unable to choose the right ending, tries several.
  • This tends to frustrate an audience, dissipating the energy the writer has created.


An overly ambitious film like Lord Jim, trying to take on a dense novel, can exhaust an audience with climaxes and endings that seem to go on forever. An extreme example of keeping it simple might be the karate match that forms the climax of The Karate Kid. When the last kick is delivered and the hero wins, the credits roll immediately in a burst of final theme music. There is almost no denouement. We know the kid is bearing the Elixir of lessons learned well in his training.


  • Abrupt endings.
  • A return can seem too abrupt, giving the sense the writer has quit too soon after the climax.
  • A story tends to feel incomplete unless a certain emotional space is devoted to bidding farewell to the characters and drawing some conclusions.


  • Focus.
  • A Return may feel out of focus if the dramatic questions, raised in Act One and tested in Act Two, are not answered now.
  • Writers may have failed to pose the right questions in the first place. Without realizing it, a writer may have shifted the theme.


  • Punctuation.
  • In a more open-ended approach to structure, you may want to end with the effect of a question mark, and the feeling that uncertainties remain.
  • “Will the hero Return with the Elixir or will it be forgotten?”
  • An open-ended story may also trail off with the feeling of an ellipsis.
  • Unspoken questions may linger in the air or conflicts may remain unresolved with endings that suggest doubt or ambiguity


One way or another, the very ending of a story should announce that it’s all over — like the Warner Bros, cartoon signature line “That’s all, folks.”

Oral storytellers, in addition to using formulas like “…and they lived happily ever after,” will sometimes end folktales with a ritual statement like “I’m done, that’s that, and who’ll ease my dry throat with a drink?” Sometimes a final image, such as the hero riding off into the sunset, can sum up the story’s theme in a visual metaphor and let the audience know it’s over.

The final image of Unforgiven, a shot of Clint Eastwood’s character leaving his wife’s grave and returning to his house, signals the end of the journey and sums up the story’s theme.



  1. What is the Elixir of Basic Instinct, Big, City Slickers, Fatal Attraction, Dances with Wolves?
  2. What is the Elixir your hero brings back from the experience? Is it kept to herself or is it shared?
  3. Does your story go on too long after the main event or climax is over? What would be the effect of simply cutting it off after the climax? How much denouement do you need to satisfy the audience?
  4. In what ways has the hero gradually taken more responsibility in the course of the story? Is the Return a point of taking greatest responsibility?
  5. Who is the hero of the story now? Has your story changed heroes, or have characters risen to be heroes? Who turned out to be a disappointment? Are there any surprises in the final outcome?
  6. Is your story worth telling? Has enough been learned to make the effort worthwhile?
  7. Where are you in your own Hero’s Journey? What is the Elixir you hope to bring back?

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