My favorite books as a kid always involved a voyage of some sort – usually to a wondrous land full of magic and possibility that desperately needed the main character to save it from encroaching darkness and leave the place better than he or she found it. Of course, the protagonist had to leave the enchanted world at some point and return to his or her home a little smarter, stronger, and kinder.
Books like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe immediately spring to mind, but there’s also my beloved A Wrinkle in Time, Bridge to Terabithia, and the Phantom Tollbooth. Since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by the epic magical land journey, the good versus evil clash, and the triumphant return home. I’ve tried to incorporate this “quest” structure into my own manuscript and once I hit upon it, I’ll know. It’ll feel full and complete, like the stories I read.
To illustrate one of the greatest magical journeys of all time, here’s the synopsis for The Neverending Story:
“Small and insignificant Bastian Balthazar Bux is nobody’s idea of a hero, least of all his own. Then, through the pages of an ancient, mysterious book, he discovers the enchanted world of Fantastica, and only Bastian himself can save the fairy people who live there. Shy, awkward Bastian is amazed to discover that he has become a character in the mysterious book he is reading and that he has an important mission to fulfill…”
(Isn’t that delicious?) It so perfectly encapsulates what makes the novel so great: a “nobody” embarks on a journey through magic to save the new world and becomes stronger in the process.
I particularly like this piece on the 8-point story arc, which distills the quest architecture into meaningful steps, and dissects the process of putting together a story that works.
Meanwhile, for today, let’s experiment with questing. Write a short piece (or poem even) that embodies the quest story arc. And if that sounds way too pompous for a Tuesday morning, just use the word “quest” in your writing today (I mean, use other words too, but “quest” should be in there somewhere.)
- Try to write your entry in 10-15 minutes. This encourages top-of-mind, primal thinking before the ego and judgmental brain kick in. Just set a timer, make your kid count to 600 slowly, whatever. It’s an honor system. And I trust you.
- Aim for 500 words or less.
- Please have fun. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Together, let’s rediscover the simple joy in the writing process.
- Post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.
If you’re new, read a bit about this weekly writing exercise here.
Or, catch up on the PROMPTuesdays archive here.