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for writers…the end of the hero’s journey

Well, Little Shane from Maine, it’s time to Return Home. You still have a few motifs to demonstrate.

Shane wanders around and around and around the traffic round-about…

collosal traffic

until he moseys into a warehouse, where the Unfettered Routing of Provolone Society  (URPS)


has convened for their bi-annual semi-pro invitational confab.

“Oh, the unbelievable coincidence, that I should end up here!”  Shane intones.  He climbs upon a pedestal and begins his tale.

“I come from a distant land, where the need for provolone is critical.  I searched the stores all up and down Main Street, but no provolone.  I offered my sandwich customers swiss.  I offered them cheddar.  But nothing I did could ease the suffering of the provoloneless.  So I boarded a plane…”  Blah, blah, blah.


We’ll let Shane drone on as he milks Motif #14…the hero explains himself. Man.  Only one motif left and we can blow this guy onward to the Common Day, where he’ll bring back the cheese.

“…at the Spanish Steps, where I sat, and sat, and sat…”

Glorioski.  What a bore.  I just want to get him on a plane, speed him back to Maine, put his cheese in a sandwich and say toodle-loo to this cheesy Hero’s Journey.

“…a man-sized rat!  With a green eye-shade!  So then I…”


A bold young lass jumps up and says,  “If we throw you a banquet will you stop talking?”

“A banquet?”  Shane stops to take a breath, URPS takes that as a “yes”, and the party is on.  Finally. Motif #15, the Hero goes to a celebration.

Then URPS loads him down with provolone.  Shane hops a plane back to Maine, crosses the threshold back into his Common Day where he distributes hero sandwiches replete with the precious provolone he so perfectly procured.

And they lived happily ever after.


Egads, we’re done.  No, I can’t believe it either.


In parting, dear reader, let me remind you that motifs can be used in any order, or not at all, if the story doesn’t call for it.

And heroes come in all shapes.


for writers…the hero confronts the evil one

Shane has had it up to here.


It’s time to confront the Evil One Get the supply of provolone flowing again, the way God meant it to.  He and Luigi make their way to the Evil One’s lair, or Inmost Cave.


The horror!


Luigi takes Shane to Mousealini’s office in the Palazzo del Governo, on the THIRTEENTH FLOOR! Time for the confrontation, better known as the Supreme Ordeal.


Without knocking, Shane bursts through the door to find…

a man-sized rat with a green eye shade sitting at a desk.

“What is the meaning of this?”  Mousealini squeaks.

Shane withdraws an ancient purchase order from behind his ear.  “I might ask you the same thing, you little vermin.  I have tried time and again to get provolone cheese from Italy, but my quest has always been foiled by someone.  Someone with a rubber stamp.”

A sinister smile spread across Mousealini’s face.   He waved a wooden-handled item in the air.  “You mean this?”  Then he laughed.  “BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!”


“That’s the one!”  Shane leapt across the desk, knocking Luigi sideways in the process.  Luigi spun, wobbled, then fell across a Delta Dolcevita Collection Desk Set. The fountain pen pierced his heart.  (Motif #12, The Hero loses an allie to death. Sometimes The Hero Dies, Motif #13. But not here.  My emotions can’t take it.)

Shane grabbed his temples and screamed, “Noooooooooo!  You’ve taken my only friend in the world!  Except for Sam, Jim, Harvey, Jessie, Lonnie, Thurgood, and Will.  And Steve.  Oh, I almost forgot Phineas.  And…”

Now Mousealini grabbed his temples and screamed.  “Stooooooooop!”

While he was incapacitated, Shane snatched the rubber stamp and ran.  He didn’t stop running until he got to the Tiber.  He threw the rubber stamp in and watched it sink.  “As God is my witness, I’ll never be ‘Refused Delivery: Out of Area’ again!”


He even shook his fist a little.

He turned around to look at the traffic round-about, where sixteen different streets converged.

“I never thought I’d get this far.  Now what?”

for writers: the hero journeys through the magical woods and finds…motifs

Poor, poor Shane from Maine.  He’s been stuck on those Spanish steps for months.


Get up, Bucko, it’s time to journey.

First, our hero must become wise in the ways of the Magical Woods.  Like most of us, he’s got to learn through trial and error. (Better known as “ the hard way“.)  He will overcome these obstacles, these tests of his mettle to grow into the hero he must become.  The new skills he develops, the new depth of resolve he finds, will prepare him for his encounter with the Evil One.

After two months, Shane leaps to his feet and bellows,  “It is provolone I need, and provolone I shall have!”  He bolts willy-nilly into the streets.

And is immediately felled by a spider.


(What did you expect?  This isn’t Harry Potter, sister.)

Here is our first MOTIF: The hero is willing to die for a cause. Sometimes he actually dies, but Shane is lucky.  He is pushed out of the way at the last second by Luigi the Sewer Swimmer.  (Motif #2: The hero is rescued by an ally. Another possible Motif is #3: The hero is saved by Divine Intervention. You don’t want to use either of these more than once.  Readers want their heroes to get out of fixes by themselves, but being saved once proves that someone cares about them.)


“Ay!  What are you, a-crazy?”  yells Luigi.  “You can’t just-a-go runnin’ into traffic!  And what is that you’re a-wearin’?  Pajamas?”

“I will admit that this flannel shirt and these lumberjack boots are a little warm in this strange land.  And especially my Dickie’s.

“Lets-a get you some new clothes.”  (Motif #4: The hero changes costume, signaling growth.)

So Luigi decks Shane out in a white long-sleeved shirt, folded up to mid-forearm and black gabardine pants.

“Now you’re a-cookin’ with gas!” says Luigi.

“I’ve got to find some provolone.”

Why didn’t you a-say so?  I know where they have the best provolone in all of Italia!”  Luigi says, and he drags Shane through the back streets and underbelly of  Roma.


But Shane doesn’t know that he is being watched.  Benito Mousealini, leader of the Committee to Keep Provolone at Home has video-cams on every street corner in Rome.  (Motif#5: The hero has magic used against him. In this case, technology serves the same purpose.  If Shane was a more interesting guy, he could employ the corollary, Motif #6: The hero uses magic. But our little Shane has to rely on his brains and guts.  And his big toe.)

Mousealini knows Shane is on a quest for provolone, and he even has help.  So Mousealini sends a plague.

Of paparazzi.  (Can you say minions?  I knew you could.)


Luigi and Shane arrive in front of Casa a Formaggio.  “It’s-a cheese market, Bambino.  The best in all of Roma!”  says Luigi.

“Eureka!”  Shane yelps as he heads for the entrance to cheese nirvana.

But he is swarmed by dozens of paparazzi, bulbs flashing.

“What’s going on?”  says our bewildered hero.  He stumbles about, blind.

“Oh no!  Look out!”  Luigi cries.  He lunges for Shane, but the paparazzi keeps them apart.

“Save yourself!”  warns Shane.  “I’m going down!”  And he does.  Hard.  (Motif #7: The  hero faces natural fears…acrophobia, fire, combat, wild beasts…)

An hour later he wakes up in Luigi’s hairy arms, (Motif #8: The hero has a change of consciousness.) He has a bump above his left eye, shaped like a kazoo.  (Motif #9: The hero is marked. With a scar, brand, tattoo.  It signifies a change of character.)

“Who did this, Pilgrim?”  Shane asks Luigi.  He sounds like John Wayne.  (Motif #10: The hero undergoes a death and rebirth.)


Luigi is shaking and blubbering so hard he can barely answer.  He clutches Shane to his breast.  (Is this Motif #11, The hero falls in love?)  “It’s-a Mouselini.  He’s-a scourge on the whole nation of Italia.  He refuses the Free Exchange of Cheese.”

“How dastardly,”  says Shane.  He leaps to his feet and orates,  “Cheese is the foundation of every great sandwich, and I will bring it to the unwashed masses I left behind!”

He hitches his britches and makes his way to Mousealini’s headquarters.

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