The literary quest is a strictly outlined plot device used to propel a story forward. It involves a hero that undergoes a great tests of character and has very specific steps along a journey. Homer’s Odyssey and Arthurian Legends are the most commonly referenced quests. (1)They begin in ordinary worlds with a hero who has or soon after gets a sidekick, (2) they get ‘called’ on their journey, (3) they try to double back not accepting their fate, (4) they meet a mentor, (5) they finally accept their quest, (6) they encounter enemies, (7) they reach the point of no return, (8) there is a final battle or climax, (9) they receive the reward which is often an object (holy grail, sword, etc), (10) they return home, (11) there is a resurrection, (12) and at last there is magic and a moral. Through this journey the hero conquers their fears and reaches an enlightened state of being or understand. Most people only relate quests to ancient hero journeys like that of Gilgamesh and Odysseus yet many modern day stories follow this plot outline such as Frodo’s quest in “Lord of the Rings” and Holden’s quest in “Catcher in the Rye.” I have applied this 12 step hero’s journey to perhaps my favorite quest belonging to Dorothy in ”The Wizard of Oz.” 1. Ordinary World: The story begins in a humble Kansas farmhouse with our hero Dorothy and her sidekick Toto.
2. Call to Adventure: The tornado is Dorothy’s call to adventure.
3. Refusing the Call: Not accepting getting swept up by a tornado Dorothy goes to hide in her bedroom.
4. Mentor: Glenda the Good Witch mentors Dorothy and points her towards her journey on the yellow brick road. 5. Accepting the Quest: Dorothy proceeds down the yellow brick road.
6. Enemies Encountered: The Wicked Witch makes multiple attempts to block Dorothy’s progress. 7. The Point of No Return: Dorothy enters the witch’s castle.
8. The Final Battle: Dorothy melts the witch with a bucket of water.
9. The Reward: She takes possession of the broomstick and takes back to the Wizard of Oz. 10. The Road Back: Glenda returns to show Dorothy the ruby slippers are her ticket home.
11. Resurrection: Dorothy is resurrected in her own bed with only a bump on the head.
12. Return with the Elixir: The magic she has learned is “There’s no place like home” and that she must believe in herself. I find it interesting that this complex literary formula used a thousand years ago is still quite possibly the best story format today. I am currently following it as I write my current WIP (work in progress.)