Basic Plot Structure – Voyage and Return

Basic Plot Structure – Voyage and Return

Christopher Booker’s book The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories outlines seven plots. One of these seven is ‘Voyage and Return.’ In this type of plot, the main character enters another land where normal rules don’t apply. This ‘dream world’ is often very different from his own home. The character must overcome threats. He conquers or escapes the world before returning home as a more mature person.

In the new land, logic and common sense don’t apply. The hero must ask for advice from allies. Unfortunately, these are often tricksters that lead the character into deeper trouble.

‘Voyage and Return’ is common in children’s books. The plot helps the reader conquer fears such as being afraid of the dark, storms, going to new places, and so on.

Voyage and Return Mini Lesson with Organizers


Students create a staggered flip organizer that explains Booker’s plot ‘Voyage and Return.’ The organizer also contains a page for students to list examples from literature or pop culture. Next students answer a ‘Digging Deeper” question. For this lesson, the question asks students to compare and contrast two of Booker’s plots ‘The Quest’ to ‘Voyage and Return.’ Finally, three outline pages provide practice.

Get the printable here.

Voyage and Return Plot Description

Voyage and Return - What Hero

This video shows heroes from several popular movies.

Voyage and Return - Hero's Journey

Voyage and Return Examples 

Alice in Wonderland:

Alice falls down a rabbit hole into a strange and surreal world, encountering bizarre characters and situations, before returning home with a new appreciation for the world around her.

Where the Wild Things Are:

Max travels to a fantasy world inhabited by wild creatures but eventually returns home to find comfort and security with his family.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears:

Goldilocks ventures into the bears’ home, causing mischief and disruption, before fleeing back to her own home.

Peter Rabbit:

Peter Rabbit goes on an adventure in Mr. McGregor’s garden but eventually returns home to his family.

Cast Away:

Chuck Noland is stranded on a deserted island, where he learns to survive and adapt to his new environment, before being rescued and returning home.

The Hobbit:

Bilbo Baggins goes on an adventure to help a group of dwarves reclaim their lost treasure but eventually returns home with newfound courage and wisdom.

Gulliver’s Travels:

Lemuel Gulliver travels to several fantastical lands, encountering strange and unique creatures, before returning home with a new appreciation for his own life.

Chronicles of Narnia [The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe]:

The Pevensie siblings travel to the magical land of Narnia, encountering talking animals and magical creatures, before returning home with a new sense of courage and determination.

Finding Nemo:

Marlin travels through the ocean to rescue his son Nemo, encountering many dangers and obstacles along the way, before returning home with a new appreciation for his son’s independence and bravery.

The Wizard of Oz:

Dorothy is transported to the magical land of Oz, where she meets new friends and faces many challenges, before returning home with a new appreciation for her family and friends.

Back to the Future:

Marty McFly travels through time to the past and future, encountering many adventures and obstacles, before returning home with a new understanding of the importance of family and relationships.


Voyage and Return - Orpheus and Eurydice

In the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Eurydice is bitten by a poisonous snake on her wedding day. Orpheus is so upset that he decides to go to the underworld to bring her back to Earth. Orpheus encounters many trials along the way. He must get past Cerberus, the three-headed dog. He gets Charon, the ferryman, to take him to Hades. Orpheus convinces Hades to allow Eurydice to return. Hades agrees on one condition. Orpheus must not look back to see if Eurydice follows. At the end of his journey, Orpheus looks back. He loses Eurydice forever. Orpheus returns alone. 


In each of these stories, the protagonist embarks on a journey to a new and unfamiliar world. The character experiences many challenges and adventures before eventually returning home with newfound knowledge or understanding. 

Get the printable here.

Jump to the plot you are interested in using these links.

Gay Miller

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