Is there a literary term for the circular nature of a story, starting in place a, going on to b and c before returning to complete at a again?
closed as off topic by JSBձոգչ, MrHen, kiamlaluno, Rhodri, Billare Apr 15 '11 at 18:15
Questions on English Language & Usage Stack Exchange are expected to relate to English language and usage within the scope defined in the FAQ. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about closed questions here.
If you mean ending a story where it began, one term for this is bookending or employing book ends [warning: TV Tropes] (check examples under the Literature tab).
Also, I once had a professor who described poems that do this as "the snake biting its tail"—which I just discovered is an ancient symbol/archetype named Ouroboros.
Your question is a tad broad but you may be thinking of the "Hero's Journey" or "monomyth". The steps of the journey are:
The Wikipedia article has plenty of details for each step. For instance, the subgroups for Departure are:
The term originated with Joseph Campbell's work on myth and examples can be found in plenty of works. Two modern examples are Star Wars and Ender's Game.
Edit: In response to the clarification, here are a few relevant terms.