Do you remember the first time you were told you couldn’t do something because you were a girl?
I broke into publishing novels with my Once Upon a Romance historical romance series, and found myself in a community of women who had learned to ignore any gender-based limitations. You know the kind of women I’m talking about. You may be one — the kind of woman who says, “Just watch me!” the second someone says, “You can’t do that!”
In fact, these women writers began to rebel against the oft-referred-to writer’s standard the Hero’s Journey mythic story structure that Joseph Campbell outlined long ago in his The Hero With a Thousand Faces. A question arose: Why wasn’t there any template for the Heroine’s Journey structure?
You will not be surprised at what happened next: these writers began to discuss and craft the structure of a Heroine’s Journey. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the structure is similar to the Hero’s Journey…but with some major differences.
The structure itself is still emerging, but the discussion inspired me to write the first three serials in my EverTwixt series (Once Upon a Witch’s Moon, Twice Upon a Witch’s Moon, Thrice Upon a Witch’s Moon). Twist Rhodes, reluctant or not, is on the ultimate Heroine’s Journey.
What inspires romance authors to rebel so often and so brilliantly? Being told “You can’t…” over and over when they not only know they can, but prove it every day by running 7-figure businesses that deliver the books their readers want (that “everyone” told them “no one” wanted).
You know the stories I’m talking about because you read them. The stories about women, where women get to be the hero of the story — instead of the prize a hero wins at the end. Just like in the Hero’s Journey, the Heroine’s Journey is not one path, but a thousand different paths, ranging from quiet scholar to vengeful warrior. You know, the stories that make you feel like you can do anything, even if someone in your life is telling you you can’t.
You, like Twist Rhodes in Once Upon a Witch’s Moon, sometimes feel the subtle (and not-so-subtle) cultural pressures that push women in one direction or another. You, like Twist, want a life you create for yourself, full of challenge, adventure, and joy.
You (probably) don’t have a Baba Yaga hijacking your dreams and your life, telling you that you are doomed to fail to prove yourself True, Bold, and Fair.
Baba Yaga is the perfect foil for the Heroine’s Journey, as it turned out (the subconscious is a marvelous thing). Because one thing that has emerged clearly in discussions of the Heroine’s Journey is that often it is an older woman who sends the Heroine on her journey.
Twist is determined to escape the destiny she didn’t choose and doesn’t want, despite the pressures on her as the last Chosen Maiden. And she’s found some friends to help her.
What is it you want to do that someone has told you you can’t?
And what did you say?