Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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August 18, 2017

No Road She Can’t Travel

Laurie Schnebly Campbell

Does it speak well for women, or badly, that while the classic Hero’s Journey involves 12 steps, the innovative Heroine’s Journey involves 13?

Is that because women take longer to reach their happily ever after? Or does it mean they have more fascinating avenues to explore than men?

 Actually, either gender could follow either journey. It started with mythologist Joseph Campbell…

…discovering that all the world's great legends tell a similarly-structured story. This hero’s tale:

(1) begins in the Ordinary World. He receives some kind of

(2) Call To Adventure and at first he

(3) Refuses The Call. But then after

(4) Meeting With The Mentor, he decides to embark and

(5) Crosses The Threshold into a special world. There he meets up with

(6) Tests-Allies-Enemies, and this prepares him to

(7) Approach The Innermost Cave where he faces an enormous challenge, the

(8) Ordeal. He prevails and earns his

(9) Reward, then starts traveling

(10) The Road Back home -- except along the way, he comes up against his

(11) Final Challenge-Resurrection, at which point he ultimately triumphs so now he can

(12) Return With The Elixir.

All perfectly good stuff that's beloved and used by thousands, or maybe even millions, of novelists and screenwriters who've read Christopher Vogler's summary of this lineup called The Hero's Journey.

But one screenwriter, Kim Hudson, kept wondering why that system didn't quite work for feminine archetypes…so she created The Virgin's Promise (a fabulous book, by the way).

Recognizing that every character who embarks on a journey of emotional growth isn't necessarily a virgin, nor a woman, she also calls it The Prince's Promise. But with either name, you get the impression that this protagonist is someone who hasn't had — at least not yet — a whole lot of room to explore the world.

And Chris Vogler loved Kim Hudson's premise. He wrote that the two systems, The Hero's Journey and The Virgin's Promise, work nicely for characters in the same story because the ideas are complementary rather than conflicting.  

Which means if you already love the 12 steps followed by the hero, that won't interfere with using the 13 steps followed by the heroine. (Or the prince; whatever works for you.)

This character’s story opens in the:

(1) Dependent World, where she's busy paying the

(2) Price Of Conformity. But then along comes an

(3) Opportunity to Shine, and as she tries this new behavior she even

(4) Dresses The Part. It gets tricky balancing her

(5) Secret World with the dependent one, which soon

(6) No Longer Fits. Only after she gets

(7) Caught Shining and can no longer be her old repressed self does she finally

(8) Give Up What Gets Her Stuck, which results in such upheaval that she sees her

(9) Kingdom In Chaos. No longer able to live her former life, she

(10) Wanders In The Wilderness until at last she commits to

(11) Choosing Her Light and becomes her true self, which means

(12) Re-Ordering her world. So now, at last, the entire

(13) Kingdom Is Brighter

Looking at just the labels for each step, it sounds a bit woo-woo. But when put into practice, it outlines a genuinely plausible path for a heroine whose greatest challenge isn’t related to desperate criminals and evil sorcerers and ferocious dragons, but rather to her children.

Her co-workers.

Her friends.

Her parents.

The kind of challenges that most of us face throughout our lives.

There’s sure nothing wrong with books where all the excitement comes from criminals and dragons. That’s why The Heroine’s Journey will probably never be essential to writers whose books focus solely on hard-core mystery and physical danger.

But for novelists who care about what’s going on inside the characters as well as outside…these 13 steps are gold. Because such a heroine is usually involved with other people who (often with the best and most loving intentions in the world) want her to stay where THEY think she belongs, rather than where she discovers she can truly become her best self.

We'll get into more detail on that next month at my WriterUniv.com class on "The Hero's Journey, For Heroines," but meanwhile I'd love to hear about ANY of the 13 steps above you’ve already seen a character taking. You might’ve included some in your own books without ever using those labels, or you might’ve noticed them in a movie or other story.

What do you think, faithful WITS followers? Have you used the Hero's Journey, or The Virgin's Promise in your stories? (wittingly or unwittingly). Tell us what you think!

*     *     *     *     *

One person chosen from today's commenters, who describes any such step, will win free registration to the September class, and I’ll look forward to walking through whatever heroine’s journey you’d like to explore!


After winning Romantic Times' "Best Special Edition of the Year" over Nora Roberts, Laurie Schnebly Campbell discovered she loved teaching every bit as much as writing…if not more. Since then she's taught online and live workshops for writers from London and Los Angeles to New Zealand and New York, and keeps a special section of her bookshelves for people who've developed that particular novel in her classes. With 42 titles there so far, she's always hoping for more.


96 comments on “No Road She Can’t Travel”

  1. I'm not very good at following any kind of "official" road map but I can see some of these steps in my WIP. Though I think my heroine is stuck more because of herself than because of the people around her. 🙂

        1. Actually, that was a lucky break...you inspired me to go through looking for other comments that'd been held up in moderation, so all those people who were waiting for replies now owe you a big thanks!

  2. I might have to take this class, Laurie, you have intrigued me with this post. It seems the hero's journey has that added hurdle on the "way back home" when he's challenged again. But the heroine isn't headed home after finding her true self/her true grit. Instead, she goes into hiding as she "wanders the wilderness".

    Guilt and duty seem threaded through the heroine's journey, while encouragement (the mention of the hero meeting with a 'mentor') and duty seem threaded through the hero's. It's like he does what is expected of him, but her actions must be forgiven, accepted or somehow justified. Both want to take care of the weak and needy, but it's the heroine who has to convince herself that she did the right thing.

    THAT is an awesome distinction between a man and a woman's journey.

    (I'm sorry...I didn't answer your question but this has given me new insight for a story I'm revising. THANK YOU for another brilliant post!)

  3. Debora, I like the differences you spotted between a man's and a woman's journey -- that's what's so cool about both those theories, the ability to view them through so many different lenses! She does have a lot more involvement with other people, which can be both good and bad (as probably just about any real-life woman would agree). Whereas he doesn't seem to spend as much time with people who matter to him...but then in both cases, the story action turns it all upside down.

  4. I've never seen this laid out so clearly. Reading it, it brought all kinds of books, movies, and shows to mind: most notably, (and I know this sounds odd) a Turkish drama I've been watching called 1001 Nights. Just yesterday afternoon I was noticing that the lead always wore white, black and navy to her work for months...now she's in tulip yellow, lavender print and bright red. Oh, and, she is actively returning the love of her very charismatic boss. So "dress the part" made the whole thing swirl into place. I like the point about the kingdom being in disarray; years ago I was taught at a business seminar, "In order for there to be new order, there must first be disorder." You don't get to clean out your closet without a lot of stuff on the bedroom floor before it's all shiny again. Thanks!

    1. Lisa, great observations about order coming from disorder -- and for a lot of writers (myself included), it's hard to put our characters THROUGH that disorder. ("I love these people; I don't want 'em to have to suffer!") But that's what makes the triumph so fulfilling, as compared to a happy ending that was never in any doubt to begin with...although I'll admit those are good books to keep on the bedside table. 🙂

  5. Oh wow!! I write romance and my stories tend to have the hero as protagonist or the one who undergoes the most transformation. Reading this wonderful post made me realize that my heroines also take a journey and come out transformed. Because I write short contemporary (55k) there's not a lot of room for two characters to undergo huge transformations but this heroine's list shows that they too have journeyed to get to their HEA. Thanks!!

    1. Carrie, your heroines absolutely DO transform -- I've seen 'em do it. 🙂 Even thought their transformation might not get as many words as the hero's, you're absolutely right in thinking they take a journey to reach their ultimate triumph...it just might involve more subtle twists and turns in the road.

  6. Hi Laurie,

    I can't think of an obvious example in one of my stories but a real life example of someone who starts off in conformity but then has an opportunity to change and shine and grabs it, is Diana Princess of Wales. When she first appeared in the public eye, newly engaged to Prince Charles, she was chubby, her hair cut in a basic conventional style, her clothes and shoes decidedly frumpy ---and to make matters worst her passive manner resulted in the press labelling her ‘Shy Di.' Then she changed--became more assertive, dressed the part and turned herself into this gorgeous, glamorous confident, style icon—a star!

    1. Janet, what a great time to be thinking of Princess Diana -- and you're right about how she changed. While the core of who she was remained the same, the way she expressed it became so much more vibrant; she's a wonderful example of making the entire kingdom brighter!

  7. Laurie, what a great post! Thank you! I've never considered a heroine's journey, but surprisingly for my male protagonist, I find his story resonating with Hudson's 13 steps. Just for fun, I'm going to set both journeys side by side and see what happens!

    1. HMB, isn't it a kick to discover you've been doing something right from pure instinct? I think that's why the Vogler premise is so appealing; it hits on universal truths that people recognize without even having studied 'em...and the same is true with Hudson's. Gotta love it when that happens.

    1. Terry, it's handy that the heroine's journey can work just as well in a novella -- or even a short story -- as in a lengthy saga. And what a cool device, letting this mystery woman be a narrator...you'll make it all kinds of fun for the reader to guess who's doing this!

  8. Laurie, your description of The Virgin's Promise, fits my latest manuscript about a sixteen-year-old girl who leaves her home to enlist in the Union Army during the Civil War. Each step fits the character arc of Sadie. I never thought about it in these terms, but I applied them to her when I wrote her journey. I love the article.

    1. Joyce, what a lovely realization that Sadie's traveled the steps without your having to sit down and plan it out that way...you were doing it exactly right from this innate sense of what a heroine's journey can (or maybe even should) be. And it's fun to imagine, without having (yet) read the book, how she'll go about Dressing The Part. 🙂

  9. I'm The Virgin's Promise kind of gal. I love that book! I'd nominate the three NASA women from Hidden Figures as women who demonstrate this feminine journey: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson.

    1. Sharon, what a great idea about the Hidden Figures women -- now you've got me wanting to watch that movie all over again with the 13 steps in mind. But already I'm loving the knowledge that by the time their journey concludes, the kingdom definitely IS brighter!

  10. Hi Laurie. Wonderful post and it's so true that a woman's journey would be different from a man's. While writing a woman protagonist one would instinctively use some of these steps. "Dressing the part", for instance, is ingrained into every traditional society. In India, we even have special rituals, ceremonies and "dresses" to celebrate the different stages of women's lives. And from a story perspective, I can totally see how a transformational character arc would incorporate some of these cultural patterns.

    1. Adite, dressing the part is one of the best steps to illustrate a transformation in progress -- I admire societies that build such a step into their culture. Seems like all we have in America is a graduation cap and a wedding gown, although authors have sure come up with a lot of wonderful illustrations for individual women's journeys. For that matter, so have real-life women...even when sometimes it's just a new haircut.

    1. MJ, it's heartening to know you won't be wandering in the wilderness permanently -- the eleventh step is usually the hardest one to take, but look at all the steps you've ALREADY taken to get to where you are now! Those show you've got the kind of strength it takes to make such changes, so light and re-ordering and brightness are the next stages of your journey...whew.

  11. Hi Laurie. I read/studied Joseph Campbell's works and Truby's Story Structure years ago. Your post is far more helpful. Thank you.

  12. Cricket, it's exciting to come across a new story structure reference -- I'd never heard of Truby before, and now it's on my Google page. Even if it's not quite as useful as those laid out by Vogler and Hudson (which I'm delighted you've found helpful), it'll be cool getting to explore another theory...thanks for the lead!

  13. Hi Laurie, I love using the Hero's journey for both my hero and heroine and I especially love finding ways to make each step seem new and fresh--kind of like the retellings of famous stories and fairy tales that are popular now. My favorite stages to write, though, are 5-8!

    1. Sharon, I totally get your fresh take on classics...seems like that's woven into every srory you do. And even kids can appreciate a quest, whether it's external or internal (or sometimes both). Those are usually the books that linger longest -- if not on the bookshelf, at least in memory.

  14. Laurie, this is the most concise description of both h & h's journey to HEA that I've seen. You are able to condense a subject that we all wrangle with and make it simple enough to see at a glance.

    1. Roz, there's nothing as satisfying as condensing a premise that WORKS -- I think writers are so good at describing things that we (or at least I) often go into far more detail than needed, when the real gut-core-essence is a whole lot simpler. Or at least, if the premise is a good one, it SHOULD be! Which is a whole other task...sigh.

  15. I gave a Heroine's Journey to a love interest of my MC. It's action thriller so their love story is a subtle subplot, but it works.

    1. Val, it works just fine to use a love story / heroine's journey (or even hero's for that matter) as a subplot for an action thriller. Nice being able to switch back and forth from dynamic activity to softer emotions every once in a while...and both give the reader more appreciation for the other one!

  16. Thank you so much for this info. I've read The Hero's Journey and have The Heroine's Journey on my to-read List. I hadn't heard of The Virgin's Promise, but it's really resonating with me. I've been struggling with the plot in my speculative fiction novel that has a female protagonist, and the 13 steps look like just what I need to clear the path for her. Looks like I'll be reading that next.

    1. Maria, I'm betting you'll love The Virgin's Promise -- every one of those steps feels like a true-to-life situation for a heroine in any culture at all. (Or a hero, as the case may be.) And it's handy going through them with plot in mind, seeing how events in your book could play into all those spots along the journey. In fact, that's what we do for homework. 🙂

  17. Good morning, Laurie! I didn't intentionally write with any particular outline like this but when looking through each point, I would say it's exactly what happened in my last book. My main character has an opportunity to shine and she tries a new behavior and her old world no longer fits and her new self shines which leads to an upheaval of sorts where she can't live her former life then she commits to being her true self which for my MC leads to her HEA. Pretty cool when I think about your 13 points!! Thanks!

    1. Patti, it's sure been fun watching her follow those steps -- I'm currently at the part with the Kingdom In Chaos, and even though I know things will turn out well it's a relief to see your confirmation that a happy ending is coming up!

  18. Thanks so much for this! I'm definitely going to keep it handy as I begin my next outline!

    1. S.A., I'm so glad it was helpful! And for what it's worth, if there's a step or two someplace that don't seem to fit the outline, Kim Hudson herself has said not to worry about that -- it doesn't mean you've done anything wrong. Some stories just take a shortcut here and there, which is perfectly all right.

  19. Thanks so much for your post, Laurie! I love this way of thinking about certain stories that involve tension, conflict, and character growth, but no desperate criminals, bombs, etc. I'd prefer, however, that the two types of journey not be gender-specific. Lots of female protags catch desperate criminals and prevent armageddon, while certain male protags experience a quieter, more inner transformation. Sometimes those stories are the most interesting, because they go against gender stereotype.

    1. Millie, you're absolutely right that both journeys can apply to either gender. I think back when Joseph Campbell was collecting the myths, there were more stories about men than women so he just automatically used "Hero's Journey," but a protagonist whose story focuses more on physical adventure sure doesn't have to be male...and one whose story focuses more on emotional change sure doesn't have to be female!

  20. I think I need to go back and sit with this sequence for a while. I know the hero's journey - in fact, it may be a little too reflexive for me. Because at least one of my current Dark Fantasy projects - maybe both of them - might actually work better as a heroine's journey than it does as a hero's. In fact, the more I think about that, the more I like it.

    That may also resolve one of my other persistent difficulties with the accursed city story, which is that I seem to be trying to write two different kinds of books at the same time and into the same project. Whereas if I pull back, use the heroine's journey for the current project, and drop the more hero's journey elements into the background, then I can pick up with a hero's journey storyline for the second book.

    I'm... I'm actually really excited by this. So naturally I'm stuck here at work, and can't just rush back home and start writing. ::sigh::

    1. To clarify: when I say "for the second book" I'm thinking that that project was intended to be the first in a trilogy; I'm not thinking of the other Dark Fantasy project, which is entirely separate.

      1. Michael, what a wonderful way to kick off a Friday morning -- here's hoping you get all kinds of time for writing this weekend! And you're right about how a story can't always accommodate both journeys at once: even though Vogler and Hudson agree that the two CAN be complementary, that doesn't mean they always ARE. So using Hudson's for the first and Vogler's for the second seems like a great idea...maybe the finale will use both?

        1. Well, the big issue isn't so much that the story couldn't have both journeys at once, it's that a single character can't have both journeys at once. Which, now that I look at it, does seem to be a rather large part of what's tripping me up.

  21. Laurie, Thank you so much for these insights. I am working on a story right now with two female leads. In some areas, the structure I currently have feels a bit flimsey. In other words, I know there is more to be mined from the journey these women are on. I'm going to reassess, using the points you make here and feel like this will help me achieve more depth of character - and more interest for the reader. Thanks again!

    1. Nan, you're going to save yourself SO much time and grief by spotting the flimsiness now rather than after the story is already in production -- up front is a great time to look at what else could be "mined from the journey these women are on." And, boy, right there you've got a wonderful phrase for the promo. 🙂

    1. What a perfect time to discover a new concept, when you're still in the opening stages of a work in progress...I wouldn't be at all surprised if what you've planned DOES fit with the 13 steps, but if one or two doesn't quite line up, don't feel like you'll need to overhaul the whole thing! Depending on whether you're more of a plotter or pantser, a couple of little tweaks could be all you need to do.

    1. Amber, good luck with the dive -- I'm hoping the steps you already see missing will be easy ones to fill in, the kind of rewrite you can do on a single weekend! (Well, heck, there's nothing wrong with fantasy...)

  22. Interesting. I'm curious to learn more about the Virgin's Promise in Laurie's September class. I'm already signed up. And it is also of note that the hero's journey seems more fixated on external acts, while the heroine's journey is more internal in nature.

    1. Denise, you're so right about the external vs internal emphasis -- not to say they can't both do both, but the focus does tend to be different. Which is why the authors see the two journeys as complementary; it's nice to have a way of covering both those bases that readers like to have in a story.

  23. Weird. I commented this morning, and saw my comment on the page, and subscribed to comments--which I'm getting!--but my comment isn't here. :/ Now I feel rude somehow. LOL

    Your post gave me, as always, food for thought. I see signs of the journey in the heroine of my WIP, though it's more herself causing her to be stuck rather than anyone else.

    1. Oh, Natalie, I'm glad you re-posted...now if the original shows up again later you'll already have a reply! And it's totally okay that your heroine is more stuck herself rather than those around her...after all, SHE's the one who's gonna have to do the most growing-learning-changing. So it makes sense to give her the toughest assignment of all.

  24. I always enjoy your posts, Laurie, and this one has me thinking about how my heroine in my historical WIP loves a satin hat sewn by her deceased mother, but her father thinks she's 'putting on airs' when she wears it. Millie has an upward battle discovering she can be the woman her mother knew she could be while exercising compassion toward her demeaning father.

    1. Jackie, what a lovely description of a heroine mired in the Dependent World who has a long struggle ahead -- I love how she pairs "coming into her own" with "being compassionate toward Dad" because it's a whole lot more interesting when the heroine does more than JUST vanquish a bad guy!

  25. Hey Laurie - I realized while reading your post that this is a real journey many of us take - if seemed to fit my life. It really resonated with me. But, as often goes with these things, just knowing how to define the path is helpful to real people, and our fictional characters, too! Maybe will make it easier to work through the plot without having to have everything come esoterically!

    1. Charlotte, you're absolutely right that this IS a common real-life journey...that might be why it works so well in fiction; it sounds like people we know (often ourselves). And I like your idea of letting real-life people in the midst of that journey know how archetypal it is; that can be comforting when they're on one of the more difficult steps. 🙂

  26. I turning point for me was getting stage three colon cancer 28 years ago. During surgery and a year of chemo my focus changed from stewing about small annoyances to accepting and enjoying people and circumstances as they are. Life has been so much easier ever since!

  27. Hi Laurie,
    The way you've outlined the thirteen steps is really accessible - great for printing on a wall or for structuring a synopsis. I (not purposefully, but I'll take it - grin) have used these steps when plotting, for sure. In my WIP, Natalie is paying the price of conformity by hiding behind her past, and it takes a job offer and a friend in crisis to get her to take the first steps toward her future.

    1. Laurel, it makes sense that you've used these steps in plotting...and very possibly in a synopsis as well, although I have to admit I never even thought about the wall-poster aspects!) And what a great example about Natalie's journey -- when / where will we get to see her story in print?

      1. Needs to be sold, first... Hopefully soon! In the meantime, Lauren in From Exes to Expecting (out in March 2018!) that we plotted during my first From Plot to Finish class also does her fair share of paying the price of conformity by choosing medicine over her first love.

  28. Laurie, your stages remind me of Malala Yousefzai - not sure of spelling, but I know you know. She's only 20 now, and just starting college at Oxford, but she's certainly had the conflicts and made and pursued the opportunities.

    1. Meg, good observation on Malala -- she'd be a great book character, wouldn't she? I'd like to think there are already novels inspired by her journey, and probably some biographies as well. And the idea that she still has another 50-some years ahead of her is wonderful.

  29. Thank you for giving such a thought provoking article! You never fail to get my wheels spinning! I mean isn't it funny that as women writers it should be 2nd nature but I guess it's a case of being too close. You know something's lacking but just can't place what's "off" or missing, but just can't place what. Thanks again for such an informative topic

    1. Margie, I like your perspective of how we're often too close to see the individual steps on a journey...seems like it's true of everyone. And while it's not so hard identifying the steps of someone famous we don't know personally, it's a lot harder to identify our own -- not to mention those of characters we've created, because they're our own people as well!

  30. I'd never heard of this but it's great. I suppose that, whatever your protagonists gender, where the story is more about an internal journey than an external one these points would apply.

    And despite not knowing about it, I do see some of these apply to my current heroine. She's so busy playing the good daughter and sister, she's letting her own dreams slip away. I love Laurel's poster idea. I'm going to steal that for my current work.

  31. Absolutely, these points work for any character who's facing an internal journey -- particularly when it involves some kind of conflict between the person's true self and what OTHER people want them to be. So there can be external conflict as well, but that's frosting on the cake since it's a reflection of whatever problem has created the internal conflict.

  32. These 13 steps do indeed sound like gold, so I just bought The Virgin's Journey. Maybe I'll use this not only in my writing but in my personal life. I'm definitely seeing the Kingdom in Chaos going on, so maybe I should flee for the wilderness! I think this is going to be another huge step forward for my writing. Thanks, Laurie!

    1. Genene, way to go on taking fast action! And good for you on spotting the steps in your own life; sometimes that can be a tough thing to spot when we're in the middle of a journey. I've always liked a writer friend's observation that "if writing were easy, everyone would be doing it" but, shoot, we all ARE going through a life journey. 🙂

  33. Hi - I, like others who've posted, don't usually sit down and follow a designed guide for my story, but as I went through the steps I realized my WIP does follow the heroine's journey, even if some of the last steps get a little muddy. But in the beginning of the story, Meghan - widowed artist - his determined to live in her dependent world, her simple life avoiding stress and the pressures of ambition that led to her husbands death. The price of conformity - for her is giving up on her dream of love and children. But, as this is a romance, she meets a man and works her way through the letting herself take a chance again, with lots of bumps in the road. In the end after she wanders through the loneliness of breaking up with Dylan - new guy - she chooses to say goodbye to her husband and forgive him for his choices,and herself for her anger. And she makes her grand gesture, giving him a painting she refused to sell Dylan because he reminded her too much of her ex, and creating a work of art that symbolizes her love for him and their new life together thus re-ordering her life.
    I like this idea. Not sure I could sit down prior to writing and fill it out as I'm a serious pantser and the characters have a way of dragging me off course when I try. But this is intriguing.
    Cheryl F. - who loves to learn new ideas and techniques as I search for my voice 😉

    1. Cheryl, as I started reading I was thinking "gee, Bobbie Jo's story sounds amazingly familiar" and it was such a relief to see the familiar story is yours! And how cool that you're hitting the steps without even trying to do it consciously...that's where the universal-truth aspect comes in; the journey just seems to flow naturally without any particular plotting effort involved. Don't you love it when that happens?

      1. I do love it when that happens! For some reason, this site likes me as Bobbiejoweave... who knows what I was thinking the first time I posted. That's my cat with cerebellar hypoplasia's name. She's a bit of a weeble-wobble.

  34. Thanks for this! Helps explain the tension I've been negotiating in the telling of my story. I instinctively knew it ought to unfold like Campbell's myth (so recursively pervasive that my English major taught me it, not reading Campbell)--but even more instinctively my novel kept creeping more towards what I now see in the 13-step paradigm.

    Maybe I'll get the best of both worlds eventually...

    1. It's sure handy being able to use whichever paradigm suits the story better -- and you can always have one character following the 12 and another the 13. With two equally compelling protagonists, that's a very cool road to follow!

      1. Indeed. I think that 3 of the MCs are rocking the 13-steps while all 4 together seek to resolve the actual action of the plot--well, again putting the 3 young folks through the 12. Hmm, maybe the mentor's not an MC after all, just a POV 'cause some of the plot unfolds in his corner of the story.

        1. Depending on the length, it might be worth changing the mentor's status...if you've got room for a bunch of main characters, there's no problem, but feeling like "there are too many Macs in here" sure can be.

  35. Hi Laurie
    Thanks for the post which explains both so well. I have used the heroes journey for an outline but the virgins promise sounds more interesting. I will have to try it.

    Cheers Tracey

    1. Tracey, you see to have the heroine's journey pretty well built into your books already -- but it's always fun to try a new comparison, just to see if any steps might be amplified a bit. Looking forward to seeing you in class!

  36. Laurie,
    I'm thinking about the starting point, the heroine's dependent world. My current heroine is fulfilling someone else's dream for her. But some elements are motivated by her own wounds and fears. I haven't plotted her way through her kingdom in chaos so your post is timely. Bingo!!

    1. Laura, isn't it fun to come across a post at just the right time? And you're right on target in thinking her dependent status couldn't happen without her own wounds/fears playing SOME kind of a part in there...even though it'll vary from book to book. Sounds like you're off to a great start.

    1. Gina, if any of your male characters find themselves cast in a role other people have chosen for them -- denying their true self, whatever that may be -- this'll work beautifully as part of their journey! It tends to apply to men more during their younger years, probably because that's when they ARE dependent on others' goodwill...but some of them never DO break out of that mold. (They tend to make good villains.)

  37. Oh, Laurie, I'm late to this party, but so enjoyed reading your post and the comments! The Virgin's Promise is a book I haven't seen, and the list of 13 steps made me think of the character Nora Helmer in the play A Doll's House. As always, I always appreciate your ability to condense complexity into a streamlined method we can easily comprehend! Thanks for sharing your gifts as a teacher and mentor.

    1. Peggy, no worries about being late -- and I'm so glad you enjoyed the read! Good thought about Nora; I never would've considered her as an illustration but she's a great one...and you're VERY welcome for the sharing; you already know this is my absolute favorite thing to do. 🙂


    Shoot, I'm going offline for a few days (along with my dad, my husband and our son; heading to total-eclipse viewing up in Wyoming.)

    So unless there's good WiFi during our stopover near Denver on the way up & back, I'll miss any comments until Wednesday -- but I definitely WILL reply to you then!

    Laurie, wishing I knew how to make an eclipse emoticon: O0o. doesn't quite seem right

  39. I'm a few days late to the party - there was a birth in the family and I've been thusly occupied. Laurie, I appreciate this post SO MUCH. I always felt that the Hero's journey didn't work for female characters, and this post has shown me that I've unwittingly been used the Virgin's journey. Seeing it in black-and-white helps. Thanks for your great teaching!

    1. Nancy, congratulations on the new arrival in your family -- that's wonderful news; what a lovely event. And I'm glad seeing the 13 steps showed you there's more than one way for a character to journey; I remember that same feeling of exultation upon discovering Kim Hudson. Whew!

  40. You have just described my life!!! AND I've just started my memoir. What a gift. You opened my eyes to a new way of looking at my WIP. Thank you so much. The past few days were difficult not being sure of how to look at my story, but this morning you BRIGHTENED my world and I'm ready to jump back in.

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