Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com. Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and the Ellie Sweet books (Birch House Press). You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website including the free novella, Throwing Stones.
(This post is part of the Writing A Novel From Beginning to End series. You can find other posts from this series on the Looking For Something Specific? tab.)
One of the most rewarding parts of a story is when we get to see how much a character has changed. There are lots of ways to show this, but something I really like to see is a character being "sent home."
This isn't in every story, nor should it be, but many stories have a moment where something has happened that sends the character back to their home world (meaning the place where they started the story) and the character finds that they no longer fit there.
While this is a scene that comes at the end of a story, it's really flexible as to where it fits or even who it should happen to. Let's look at a few examples that show the diversity:
In Cars, Lightning McQueen isn't so much going home as he is going back to the racing world. He finally arrives at his big race in California, but despite how he's spent the majority of the movie trying to get out of Radiator Springs and back to the society where he's a big star, he finds the superstar life isn't as satisfying as he remembered it being.
Another great Disney example is in Tangled. After Rapunzel is abandoned by Flynn Rider and her mother chases away the Stabbington brothers, Rapunzel willingly returns to the safety of her tower. Her mother undoes the hairstyle that the village girls did and states, "It's like it never happened." But that's not true at all. Rapunzel has changed and can't quite turn off that part of her that thrived in the outside world.
—a trait that makes a relationship great in literature and in real life—and we see how they can't just go back to who they were.
If you're writing a series, sometimes moments like this come after the climax. Like at the end of The Hunger Games where Katniss believes that after she gets back to District 12, they can all just pretend the games never happened and go on with life as it was. When we pick up with her in Catching Fire, we'll see she's found that's not true.
If you have multiple point-of-view characters, getting sent home may not have to happen to your main character. In Frozen, the moment happens for Kristoff. He's a man who likes to be alone, who never wanted to be saddled down with Anna in the first place, but after he returns her home and heads back up into the mountains, Kristoff quickly realizes that being a loner doesn't work for him anymore.
Again, this isn't something your story has to have, but it can be a very effective way to show just how much a character has changed since we met them.
Does your story have a moment when a character gets sent home?