Monday, February 17, 2014


While the quest may involve action, this plot form is character driven rather than action driven. The main character (MC) goes on a journey in which he seeks some object, person, or place. Along the way, he encounters new things and meets new people. By the end of his search, he has grown in some manner. As in all stories, there is a beginning, a middle, and an end.

In the opening scenes, the writer identifies the MC along with a motivating incident in the form of an obstacle, a loss, or a challenge. He has the MC explain why he is going on the quest, what he thinks he is looking for, and how he will define success.

The Wizard of Oz presents Dorothy as an unhappy Kansas farm girl who feels unappreciated and needs to save her beloved dog from a neighbor who is trying to kill it. She runs away to a carnival where a worker convinces her to return home.

The middle is the journey in which the MC fights and loses a series of battles. He has at least one traveling companion with whom he interacts, a helpful character, and a nemesis. The companion has his own motivations for joining the MC, and the obstacles effect a change in him as well.

When Dorothy arrives home, she encounters her first major obstacle, a tornado that picks up her house and transports her over the rainbow. The helpful character, the good witch Glenda, tells her to follow the Yellow Brick Road to the City of Oz where a powerful wizard might help her find a way back to Kansas. Dorothy decides to go in quest of Oz. However, the Wicked Witch of the West has a grudge against her and places obstacle after obstacle in her path. Along the way, three companions join her. The Tin Man believes the wizard can give him a new heart, the Scarecrow wants a brain, and the Cowardly Lion needs to find courage.

At the end of the story, there is self-doubt followed by a final battle which determines whether the quest is successful or not. Afterwards, the MC reveals what he has discovered and how he has changed.

Dorothy finds Oz, and her companions discover what they desired was within them all the time. However, since the wizard turns out to be a fraud, Dorothy believes she will never see home again. She receives hope when the wizard decides to ride a balloon over the rainbow. But hope is dashed when she misses her ride. Glenda appears and tells Dorothy that her ruby slippers can take her home. Dorothy returns to Kansas with a new attitude. She now believes true happiness is found in one’s own backyard.

The Quest is a plot form used since ancient times. Gilgamesh sets out to find immortality. Jason seeks the Golden Fleece. While he tries to right wrongs, Don Quixote searches for Dulcinea. Lord Jim attempts to regain his honor. As they journey toward their goals, each changes in some manner.—Quinn

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