Perhaps the "classic" example is Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Early in her journey through the land of Oz, she acquires the slippers that she needs to take her back to Kansas. But she doesn't realize this until she is told at the very end, which is why she tries "other means" of achieving her goal.

What is this story structure called?

  • Abuse by a sadist. The "good" witch of the north is a sick puppy. – Thom Dec 14 '15 at 15:18
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    @TheThom No, she's being a parent or teacher. Giving a kid the answer is not nearly as useful as helping the kid to figure out the answer on her own. She'll remember it a lot better that way. – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Dec 14 '15 at 15:30
  • +1, it appears you thus far have the audience stumped. – Stu W Dec 15 '15 at 4:11
  • @StuW: Someone answered a similar question here. writers.stackexchange.com/questions/19136/…. I was hoping they could answer this one. – Tom Au Dec 15 '15 at 15:42
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    I don't think the names on "TV tropes" are, in general, widely accepted and recognized names for these ideas. Very few sound like the sort of names that literature professors give to such ideas, so I doubt they would be respected in an academic paper. Frankly, I often hear people ask "the name" of some complex idea, or even "the word", and I think the reality is that there are many ideas that do not have a single, recognized name. You have to describe them. – Jay Dec 17 '15 at 5:49

The only term I came across (in my brief search) was self-realization drama. It can cross genres but perhaps seems best suited for fantasy. It's the classic "I knew I had the power within me" kind of story.

  • This was in contrast to self-discovery which seemed to be involving religion or sexuality. – Stu W Dec 16 '15 at 1:03

This is less of a story structure and more of a trope. (You can have very different story structures leading up to that final revelation.) Also, I don't know how many story structures actually have established names :P

Tropes don't always have established names either, but TV Tropes calls this "It Was With You All Along".

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