When I was working on the second book in my Hathor Legacy series, "Hathor Legacy Burn," I needed an easy to use outline for the action. I'm more of a pantser than a plotter, but having some sort of roadmap for the story was a big help. To start with, I referred to one of my go-to books, "The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers" by Christopher Vogler, which is based on Joseph Campbell's work (and described in his book, "The Hero with a Thousand Faces").
But even though I've read The Writer's Journey several times, and found it helpful, this time around it felt like something was missing for me. My heroine, Nadira, drives most of the action in the book. I could map the journey to some parts of her character arc, but for other parts, it felt forced. That's when I went searching to find other insights. Ultimately after an internet search, I found what I was looking for.
In her book, "Story Structure Architect," Victoria Lynn Schmidt maps out a journey based on archetypes found in the story of the Sumerian goddess, Inanna, an epic that describes her descent into the underworld.
Stages of the Heroine's Journey:
1. Perfect World - the heroine's everyday world
2. Realization/Betrayal - an inciting incident and decision point
3. Awakening: - decision to take the journey
4. Descent - the heroine faces her fears but can't turn back
5. Eye of the Storm - tests and ordeals
6. The Death - an actual or symbolic death
7. Support - help comes, possibly from the larger community
8. Moment of Truth - rebirth and facing the biggest challenge
9. Full Circle - heroine returns to the perfect world with more self-awareness
Even though it's a Heroine's Journey, it can be undertaken by a hero as well (just as a heroine can take the Hero's Journey). I felt that Nadira's arc was a better fit for these stages. She starts out in a perfect world (or so she thinks) as a Guardian on the planet Hathor. Then as she starts investigating a series of fires, she discovers information that's been kept hidden from her.
After a series of setbacks, she's forced to accept that she needs support from others in order to solve the crimes and confront the conspirators. Her journey isn't just about dealing with the threats to the perfect world; she has to come to terms with her own identity as well.
When she gets to the full circle stage, she has a different awareness of herself and what the Guardians are about. In addition, that stage provides a jumping off point for the next story to begin. By having her experience these steps, I had a better understanding of her as a character. I didn't have to decide which path she'd take. Her actions flowed from one stage to the next.
There are variations of the Heroine's Journey, including a version in Kim Hudson's book, The Virgin's Promise. If you're looking for an alternative to the Hero's Journey (or want to read more about the archetypes) there are a number of resources that go into more detail.
For more information about Victoria Schmidt's version, here's the link to the post on the Sharper Stories site: http://sharperstories.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/the-feminine-and-masculine-journeys/
Bio + links
Deborah A Bailey is the author of the novels, "Hathor Legacy: Outcast," "Hathor Legacy: Burn" and a short story collection, "Electric Dreams: Seven Futuristic Tales." Her short stories have won awards from the Philadelphia Writers' Conference and her work has been published in US1 Magazine and the Sun. After several years as a software developer, she left corporate to become a freelance technical writer.
Hathor Legacy: Burn buy link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LW95G7K
Hathor Legacy: Outcast buy link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FZ1MEX0
On the planet, Hathor, an old threat re-emerges that may destroy the fragile alliance between the Guardians and Novacorp. When Nadira is called to investigate a rash of fires throughout the city, she discovers the Deshtu, another group with PSI powers who have been purposely kept in the shadows. Working to uncover the source of the fires, Nadira learns the brutal truth about the origin of the Guardians. As time runs out, the Guardians prepare for a clash with Novacorp that could plunge the planet into chaos, and a final betrayal forces Nadira to risk everything to save herself and Hathor.