EVERY story is an adventure. We already know these characters will come face-to-face with all kinds of excitement, challenge and danger–whether that danger involves dastardly villains or a reluctance to fall in love.
A lot of readers are thrilled when a story’s main adventure involves bullets, pirates, dragons or floods. Sometimes all of ‘em combined, plus more!
There are plenty of stories for those readers to enjoy.
But what about the readers who prefer excitement on a more internal, emotional level? How can we satisfy THEM?
Here’s where The Heroine’s Journey comes in handy.
We all know about The Hero’s Journey, which Christopher Vogler adapted from Joseph Campbell’s discovery of the twelve steps a hero goes through on his way from Accepting The Quest to Returning With The Elixir.
Those steps involve all kinds of external conflict, and occasionally there might even be a bit of internal conflict along the way.
The hero isn’t JUST coping with bullets-pirates-dragons-floods…sometimes he’s also coping with self-doubt or fearing cowardice or concerned about his family while he’s busy dodging bullets, fighting pirates, lassoing dragons and swimming through floods.
Then there are the other characters.
The ones who don’t come up against such problems. Their external challenges are quieter. Every bit as dramatic and intense, but accompanied by the music of a solo saxophone rather than a chorus of trumpets and drums.
* Maybe their problem is the inability to say no to a loved one.
* Or the discovery that the life they’ve been trained for isn’t what they truly want.
* Or the choice between their love and their dream.
Theirs are the stories that follow The Heroine’s Journey.
The journey can apply to men as well as women, but it’s easier to distinguish Chris Vogler’s twelve steps from Kim Hudson’s thirteen steps by assigning each journey to a different gender.
Kim Hudson’s book, The Virgin’s Promise, goes into fascinating detail on how a character who’s found a somewhat secure niche in society — at the expense of her own individuality — comes up against all kinds of challenges if she ever tries to become the person she’s fully meant to be.
This rings true for a lot of heroines. And sometimes even for those of us who write their stories.
We’ve been through experiences like Paying The Price of Conformity, realizing we No Longer Fit in a comfortable-but-confining world, giving up What Keeps us Stuck, and more. It can be a lifelong process. But in a book, it’s a lot more exciting to show the entire process taking place in just those pages between Chapter One and The End.
The question is, how do we keep it exciting?
Most readers (and writers) have faced these same challenges in real life, even though they don’t tend to view themselves as heroic characters. Yet every time we question our boundaries, every time we consider changing a habit that no longer fills its original purpose, every time we stand up for something we believe in, we’re taking the same 13 steps as those heroic characters who achieve — and deserve — a triumphant ending.
Even so, somehow we tend to think of our own life as “not very exciting” — unless the challenges we face involve bullets, pirates, dragons and floods. That’s why a lot of writers add those elements to their books.
With The Heroine’s Journey, though, there’s no real need for such external dangers.
There’s already a whole world of adventure in seeing her…
* Move from dormancy to risk.
* Sample an unrealized dream in secret.
* Balance her old and new worlds.
* Face the chaos that comes from change.
* Confront the ultimate challenge, and bring new light to the world.
You’ve done that yourself. You’ve taken on a challenge which people close to you viewed as questionable. They doubted your ability, your commitment, your thinking, and often made you doubt it as well. But you persisted, and you emerged triumphant.
Your more-than-adventurous heroine can, too.
Which leads to a prize-drawing question:
To inspire all of us creating memorable heroines, who face the kind of challenges that affect people like ourselves, could you describe a time when you went beyond the limits set by your world? If you’d rather I DIDN’T quote you, please mention that…but somebody who comments will win free registration to my September class on The Hero’s Journey, For Heroines!
Laurie Schnebly Campbell always wondered what was wrong with her, not really GETTING the Hero’s Journey, until she discovered its feminine counterpart. Then she got excited — not only by the premise, but also by the chance to create a brand new class for WriterUniv.com. She can’t wait to see who else shares her enthusiasm for characters making discoveries within themselves, as well as within the world…no matter what their gender.