Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

No more Superwoman! April 25, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 9:56 pm
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Not much writing happening this week, as my job has fried my brain.

Well okay, maybe I should be more honest, I have allowed my job to fry my brain.

Now, I’m leaving, I finish on Tuesday. My manager has already sent my reference off, so nothing I do in the last week will make any difference to my future. What would be the sensible thing to do? Take it easy, right?

Not me. I have to see all my patients, do a million referrals, leave them with as much follow-up in place as I can, keep on worrying about them. I’ve run myself ragged every work day this week, despite the fact I’ve felt lousy and vaguely under the weather all week. Next week isn’t shaping up any better. I’m even considering doing an extra day of unpaid work just to tie up all the loose ends.  Being a caring professional is one thing, but this is going too far.

 I’m recognising a pattern here as it’s happened a few times now, over about ten years. I start a new job, feel I need to be Superwoman and do more than is humanly possible, take on too much, realise I can’t manage it all, and have to leave the job because once I’ve taken on that much it’s almost impossible to back out gracefully and reduce the workload. I really really really need to learn this lesson before I start in my new job!

No more Superwoman! My job is not my life. My job is part of my life. So is writing. So is my marriage. So is my health.

 

Writing the Alpha hero April 21, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 10:39 pm
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hugh1 The wonderful Kate Walker has a too-good-to-miss series on the Alpha hero running at her blog. Lots of fab info on writing strong sexy heros, plus piccies of Hugh Jackman too! What’s not to love?

I may be quiet for a while because I am busy wrapping up things in my old job before I leave, and I’m also doing April Kihlstrom’s Book in a Week workshop. So far it is truly excellent, I’m learning loads and the way I see my story and characters has been totally transformed. The format is three weeks writing preparation, one week intensive writing, and a week on editing. The writing week just happens to be the week I’ve given myself off between jobs. It’s going to be fun!

 

Finding what it takes April 13, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 11:28 am
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It’s Easter. Four days off work. I planned to get a lot done. And I haven’t done any writing at all this weekend. A bit of story planning on Friday, nothing at all the last two days. Nada. Not one word. Not even any notes. My mind is completely blank.

I’ve been telling myself I don’t care and I’ve just been giving myself a break, but the fact is, I do care, I care very much. I’ve been feeling numb, but today I feel heartbroken and I don’t know why. I just don’t think I can do this. I’m feeling a deep and corrosive sense of failure. My writing group friends are finishing and submitting stories. I can’t help comparing myself and what I have achieved (NOT!) in the past year with what they have done.

It’s nearly a year since I got the feedback (AKA rejection letter) from the IS contest. Since then all I’ve done is have story ideas and write first chapters, somethimes a few times over. This story I’ve got to chapter three then stopped. The furthest I’ve got, since getting the letter this time last year and knowing there was no point completing the IS story even though I was only about 10,000 words away from the end.

I just realised, looking back at my blog posts to find the one about the HMB letter, that this is the anniversary of more than my first Mills and Boon rejection. It’s also the anniversary of what should have been the birthday of the baby I got furthest into pregnancy with. I lost Rose at 18 weeks. The letter terminated Bruno and Rebecca’s story at 40,000 words. I’m now in a recurrent miscarriage pattern with my writing.

When I sent that competition entry off, oddly there was no fear in my mind that it would be rejected. I felt confident that I had written a good story and it would be accepted. Just like with my first preganancy, where it never occured to me that I might not end up with a baby. The only feeling when I saw the positive pregnancy test was pure joy and anticipation that nine months later, I would have a baby.

Seven miscarriages later, there didn’t seem to be much point doing pregnancy tests. Why bother, why get excited and get my hopes up. A positive test didn’t mean hope and joy, it meant fear and anxiety, waiting for it all to go wrong again. Sometimes I lost the pregnancy within a few days, sometimes it took longer, eight, ten, twelve weeks. With Rose I got to sixteen weeks before the big problems started. I’d had scans. Seen her tiny heart beating. Seen her moving her arms and legs. Felt the tiny flutters of movement. Been told I should stop worrying now, I was past the stage where things can go wrong. I felt such happiness. At last it was going to happen. This time, this time I would have a baby, no more grief and sorrow, thank God.  It didn’t happen like that. Yes, I had a baby,  but a  baby not much bigger than a Barbie doll, born at eighteen weeks, too early to have any chance of survival.

After the next couple of pregnancies also miscarried, but much earlier, I stopped doing pregnancy tests. If giving up caffeine and alcohol and eating only organic food and taking the right vitamin tablets hadn’t stopped me losing my babies, maybe pretending I wasn’t pregnant and and wasn’t trying to get pregnant and didn’t care and just carrying on like normal would work. It didn’t. The wild hope if my period was late, the gut deep sense of failure and loss when the bleeding came had me on a crazy roller coaster ride. I was so angry with my husband when he insisted that we were going to stop trying, that we wouldn’t ever have unprotected sex. He couldn’t bear seeing me so upset. He was right of course. It stopped the crazy ups and downs. Replaced them with a permanent down. I had no hope. I was still left with the monthly reminder of my failure as a woman. My failure to fulfil my deepest, oldest, most cherished dream.

So cross that one off the list. Only thing to do was to move onto the next thing on my list of things I wanted to do before I was forty, written back when I was eighteen, when anything seemed possible, except believing I would ever be as impossibly old as forty!

 By then, I was forty seven and the three biggies at the top of the list still weren’t done. Having a baby was out. The other two were be a published fiction writer and build my own house. House building was going to be difficult. I was living in Britain, where land was expensive and there were armies of men with clipboards checking that building codes were fully enforced. The sort of small funky organic house I wanted was out of the question. Besides the fact my very “But what would be neighbours think?” husband would be horrified at the idea.  So only one idea left. Writing.

I’d had a couple of articles published, but they didn’t count, the dream was very specific that it had to be fiction. I was the kid who was always scribbling stories. In high school my teachers were encouraging. I sent a few stories and poems off  to magazines and had rejections. It didn’t feel like such a big deal, I’d try again another time. But I didn’t.  There were always distractions. I started nursing instead and writing was always there but just for me.  Went back to uni as a mature student in my late twenties and did english and creative writing courses. Lecturers encouraging, wanted me to submit my writing to journals. But I didn’t. I didn’t want to be writing literary short stories. I wanted to be writing the genre stuff that the lecturers disapproved of. Romance, fantasy. I left uni and kept writing the things I wanted to write, but never finishing anything. Nothing was ever good enough. I didn’t write consistently either, my writing was episodic. Oh, I journalled most days. And my journal pages were full of story ideas, that I never wrote. Every couple of years I would decide I wanted to write seriously, and I would work up an idea and start writing. But I never got much past chapter one. Until late December 2007, when I decided I was going to go for it with writing, really go for it. That was when I finally crossed “baby” off the dream list, and looked at the next thing on the list.

So, JanNo 2008. Dived into a story, finished by 27th January. Found out about the HMB Instant Seduction competition, wrote and sent off my first chapter and synopsis by 14th February. Kept writing the story, and was near finishing in April 2008 when the letter came. I didn’t want to drop that story, but recognised there was not much point finishing it when they didn’t want to see it. Since then, I’ve been in miscarriage mode with my writing. Lots of hopeful starts that go nowhere. In December I recognised that pattern and committed to finishing the story I was working on. I’m still stuck on that same story, starting and restarting it when I know I just need to keep writing and finish the bloody thing. Even if it’s the most rubbishy first draft ever, just get the darned thing done so I can move on! I want to have a go at redoing my IS entry, and my JanNo, with all I have learned about romance writing in the last year. It’s good to recognise that it really hasn’t been a wasted year. I may not have completed anything, but I’ve still learned a lot and made some good friends in the romance writing community.

I still don’t know quite how to get out of this stuck place I’m in and break the miscarriage pattern. I have a week off between jobs, so I’m planning to do Book in a Week on this story and try to just write my way through it. Six days, 8,500 words a day. It will be total crap, but it will be soooo good to finally write The End!

 

Getting the form April 10, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 6:41 pm
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Image from Hoarded Ordinaries

 

I haven’t done any actual writing this week at all. Not one story word.

What I have done is a lot of thinking about the essential elements of a romance story, and a lot of working out what needs to happen in the Work in Progress.

I don’t want to plot it to death, but I’ve been feeling lost without a road map, and I’ve gone down too may tracks that turned out to be dead ends with this story.

My writing group think I’m being a perfectionist, trying to come up with the “perfect” story.  They could be right. But I think what I am trying to do is really get to the heart of what a romance story is, what needs to be there to make it a strong and effective story. What are the core elements? How do they fit togther? How do I handle POV, and the balance between the hero’s journey and the heroine’s journey?

 

Some writers seem to have it already internalised- perhaps quite unconsciously, absorbed from reading lots of stories.  I just don’t feel that I’ve got it yet. Maybe it’s magical thinking but I feel that once I get a deep understanding, the writing will just flow. I have the ideas, but I don’t know how to build the framework to hold them. This is an exercise in frame building, not just for this story but for all my stories.
I don’t feel stuck or frustrated with this process at the moment.   It’s all good stuff.  What has been frustrating is all this writing myself into a dead end stuff. I’m thinking I might do Book in a Week with this story. I get to spend three weeks planning, then a week writing first draft as fast as I can without thinking too much about it at all! If the plan isn’t working, don’t stop, just keep writing. But I don’t want to waste too much of that time writing stuff that is going nowhere.
 
I was like this at school. I could not write an essay to save my life, because I didn’t understand the form and what it was all about. One day it just clicked, and after that I could write an essay on just about any topic that would be sure to get good enough marks. I need the same inner conceptual shift to happen for romance writing. It’s that “aha” moment, when it all just falls into place, and once it happens, you’ve always got that skill or knowledge. I haven’t had that yet. I had it for essays at school, I had it for short stories at uni. Now I need to have it for romance writing.
The thing with romance writing is that though it’s not formulaic, there is a form. Once I have that clear in my mind, I can give shape to my ideas by using that to guide them. I’m too wild and all over the place at the moment. My imagination is undisciplined, it needs something to contain it, to guide it into shape.  There’s this essential balance between ideas, creativity, and individual voice on one side, which needs to be a bit wild and undisciplined; and the form of a story that the reader can relate to and understand on the other. Either one without the other is not a complete story.
My JanNo was a mess, all over the place, three different stories in one. My IS entry was more writing to what I thought were the conventions of the Presents form without real ideas to back it up. And sadly, I haven’t written anything that’s gone past three chapters in the year since getting my IS feedback.
Part of that is fear- if I finish and submit something I risk another rejection. Part of that is just that 2008 was a really crappy year when it was a challenge to get much writing done. And part of that is that I still don’t fully understand what makes a working romance story tick.
Overcoming the fear will just be a matter of doing it. Hopefully with my next job move I will overcome some of the work demands using up my brain. And right now I am focusing on the third problem, just not have a clear enough idea of what I am trying to do.
I have that lovely feeling of teetering on the brink of a breakthrough, I’ve almost got it, I’m almost there. And once it happens- WHAM! My ideas will be shaped by clarity and understanding. I will be able to let my writing just flow, with a form to contain and guide it.
Of course if I am still stuck in this process of working things out in a month’s time, our writing group’s disciplinarian had better start polishing those whips. ‘Cos then it’s clear it’s just another strategy to avoid actually writing. I really don’t believe it is.
 

More thoughts on The Hero’s Journey- the Ordeal and the Black Moment April 6, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 6:28 pm
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Um, I’m just thinking as I write here so it may not make sense or be just plain stupid, but it seems to me that the Ordeal is a descent into the dark places of the character’s own psyche, where they become fully aware of their deepest fears and their greatest challenges. To successfully negotiate the Ordeal, the character must be willing to confront their fears, to recognise the shadow within themselves. That cliched but so true phrase- “feel the fear and do it anyway”. If they feel the fear and back out, it’s game over. Fail. There is no reward.

But if they feel the fear and take the risk, things can and will still go wrong. The virgin may decide to go ahead and be intimate with the hero, despite her fears he is only using her, and have an mind-shatteringly wonderful experience. The Reward is only ever temporary. The next morning, she may wake up and find that yes, he is a scheming manipulative bastard who was only using her.

The true Black Moment is when everything the character most fears seems to have become reality, and whatever choice the character makes, it’s going to be terrible for them. The Black Moment is in fact the ultimate temptation, the moment when the character chooses whether to be true to themselves, or to become their shadow self. This must relate to the Ordeal, the deepest fear the character realised there, now come to pass. In the fight on the Death Star, Luke loses a hand, but that doesn’t sear his soul in the same way as the discovery that his vision in the cave was true- he and Vader are of the same essence, Vader is his father. He chooses to risk death rather than become his Shadow. 

So in the Ordeal, the character is asked to be willing to confront their worse fear, in the Resurrection, they do actually confront it and are reborn into the world. The old personality dies in a sense in the Ordeal, but the character isn’t actually reborn into their new purified and strengthened self until the Resurrection. Because they are still in the Special World, and not yet back in the Ordinary World. Got it! I think…

Now how that applies to Romance I’m not quite sure yet. In category romance, diferent lines will put differing emphasis on the hero’s journey and the heroine’s journey, some lines more focused on the hero, others on the heroine. There are two separate journeys, that may well be progessing at different rates, but they have to end up at the same place for the HEA. And running away from the Black Moment isn’t the answer. The heroine  or hero has to grow and mature, face and integrate their shadow self, and at the same time win the respect of the other (or in the case of the heroine dealing with the more Alpha hero, force him to respect her!). I think I am seeing why my Instant Seduction entry was rejected- the heroine ran away from her Black Moment.  The  character has to react to their ultimate trial in a way that proves them worthy of a real love, showing them to be a person of true integrity and courage. Luke had only two choices- join Vader or risk death. Hopefully our heroines have  a few more options!

A romance is not just a love story, it is a story of two human being’s emotional and personal growth. Jennifer Crusie’s definition of a Romance ties in well here.  “The medieval definition of a romance always involved a quest, and I think the modern romance does, too: the heroine’s quest for self-actualization. Until a woman finds out who she is and what she needs from life, she can’t really connect to another person as an equal. So the best romance novels always show a woman coming to her strength and fullness as a human being, and part of the reward for the fulfillment of that quest is a strong, equal life partner. “

And the way we come to that strength and fullness of self is through trial, through ordeal, through the darkness. Jung said “When we must deal with problems, we instinctively resist trying the way that leads through obscurity and darkness. We wish to hear only of unequivocal results, and completely forget that these results can only be brought about when we have ventured into and emerged again from the darkness.”

I’m just realising there was another issue that weakened my IS story, one that I think is common for newer romance writers. I didn’t link the stages of Ordeal and Black Moment together, I threw in a new problem to create the Black Moment. The problems didn’t really come organically enough from who the characters were, either, they did partially, but they were also a bit manufactured. I think that’s what’s known as a plot device, isn’t it?

Of course, I had heard of the Hero’s Journey, but hadn’t really thought about it back then, especially applied to Romance. I didn’t know what a black moment was either. I just knew there had to be a couple of places where it looks like the relationship has no chance! It’s exciting to see how far I’ve come in a year. Now, to just apply this to some writing…

 

The Hero’s Journey April 5, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 12:38 am
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hero_s_journey_model_meImage by Michael Earle

 

As is so often the way with me, a random throwaway comment on a discussion group this morning got me interested in reading more about the Hero’s Journey, and I ended up spending all day on it! It does look interesting, and I can think of quite a few series romances I’ve loved which followed the journey pathway step by step.

Joseph Campbell  first described The Hero’s Journey or Mythic Structure , based on a study of myths and archetypes. Scriptwriter Christopher Vogler, in his book The Writer’s Journey , popularised a variation on the theme and applied it specifically to writing.

The theory is that all stories contain similar elements or stages that the central character(s) progress through. At first glance I didn’t see how I could use it to help me in romance writing. Using it for Star Wars is one thing, but the elements of a romance are totally different, surely?

Well, maybe not. The journey may be an actual quest, a real physical journey, which in a romance must also involve emotional challenge and change for the characters. It can just as easily be a purely emotional journey, where one or both of the main characters find their ideas, beliefs, and ways of being are challenged and life will never be the same again. Whatever the external problem the characters have to deal with, the core journey is towards self-knowledge, personal growth, and a committed loving relationship.

In a romance, we have two main characters, so there may be two journeys, the hero’s and the heroine’s, which intertwine through the novel. They may not always be at the same stage in their journeys until the end, and some stages may be skipped, collapsed into one, or done out of order, but the heroine and heroine will always end at the final stage together.

The hero’s journey applies just as much, or even more so, to the heroine. To avoid constantly using “he/she” or “him/her”, I’m going to use “their” or “them” which I know is grammatically incorrect, but a hell of a lot easier to write!

Central to the journey is the choices the character makes and the actions they take. The main characters must be proactive participants in events, responding to the challenges of each phase. They need to earn their happy ending.

This is my personal interpretation of the stages of the hero’s journey as they apply to romance writing, as I‘m working towards understanding it. It’s different to versions I’ve seen some romance writers give, so you may want to check the links at the end to see how other writers have interpreted this.

1. THE ORDINARY WORLD. The hero and heroine, as the reader’s way into the story, are introduced in a way that allows the reader to identify with them, or at least feel some form of sympathy for them. This identification and sympathy may not apply to the more Alpha hero type at first, but does have to occur at some stage in the story- the reader need to be able to understand why the heroine would fall in love with this man, and believe they can be happy together. It is essential that the reader can identify with at least one of the main characters initially. The basis of the character is shown, so the reader can see how far they have come by the end of the story. This may include showing family, background, positive personal features, and flaws. The main characters may begin the story feeling uneasy and uncomfortable with their situation, or oblivious to any need for change. Either way, they don’t know what the problem is.

2. THE CALL TO ADVENTURE. Something shakes up the situation, either external pressures or forces within the character themselves, so one or both characters must make a decision and face the beginnings of change. Something throws normal life off balance. Things can never be the same again. The problem which the character must solve within the book is shown, as well as at least hints of the internal conflict, the emotional issue that is going to get in the way of the character being in a committed relationship. The character is aware of the need for change.

These two stages are often combined or reversed in a romance. Readers tend to want to get straight into the action, know what the hook is of the story. That means starting with the Call to Adventure (what is often called the Inciting Incident). This may be the meeting of hero and heroine, or whatever event triggers the necessity for change in the life of that character. The “backstory” of the Ordinary World is dripped in through detail, hints, or conversation, or in a scene following the initial challenge. The Ordinary World stage is essential and can’t be skipped altogether. The reader needs to see where the character has started from, and have some awareness of what their personal relationship issues are likely to be.

3. REFUSAL OF THE CALL. The character feels the fear of the unknown and tries to turn away from the adventure, however briefly, because of the uncertainty and danger ahead. The problems facing the characters if they either refuse or accept the challenge are shown. If the character is keen to take on the challenge, another character may voice the difficulties which are likely to be confronted. This is the stage of resistance to change. This can give the reader a lot of information about the character, through their reasons for initially refusing then accepting the challenge. This can tell us about their past, their fears, their goals, their motivations, and their values.

4. MEETING WITH THE MENTOR. The mentor is an archetype, someone who gives the hero or heroine confidence, training, help, equipment, or advice that will help on the journey. They may help the character overcome resistance to accepting the challenge, and the initial fears about beginning their journey. Sometimes the character may have an Inner Mentor, through a strong code of honour or justice that guides them through the Journey. In romance, a mentor may be a character such as a friend, relative, maid, or family retainer. Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother is an example of a mentor character. In this stage, the character overcomes their fear to take the next step.

5. CROSSING THE THRESHOLD. This is the point in the story where the character really gets involved, they are committed to their journey. This stage carries the sense of moving from the Ordinary World to a Special World, where the rules and values of the normal world may not apply. Crossing the threshold is the point to moving from one world to another. Once they do this, things can never be the same, there is no going back. Some significant event may propel the character across the threshold and into the adventure. This may be a first kiss, or the first admission of attraction to the other character. In a marriage of convenience story this may occur when the hero or heroine chooses their spouse, or agrees to marry the one chosen for them. The Event will directly affect the character, raising the stakes and forcing them into action. An example of Crossing the Threshold is when Belle agrees to stay with the Beast in return for her father’s life in Beauty and the Beast.

6. TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES. Having crossed the Threshold, the hero or heroine faces Tests, encounters Allies, confronts Enemies, and learns the rules of this Special World. The character adapts to their new environment, learns more about the other character, discovers more about themselves. They need to find out who can be trusted, who is on their side and who or what opposes them. Their strength of character and commitment to continue the journey may be tested by temptations. They may learn new skills they will need in the greater ordeals to come. This is the deeper “getting to know you” stage in a romance. The characters are thrown together by the Journey, and need to ask what they like in each other, what bothers them in each other, and make decisions about whether or not they can trust the other. The hero and heroine both have a decision to make about the other- is this person my ally or my enemy? This is the stage of committing to change.

7. APPROACH TO THE INNERMOST CAVE. The hero or heroine prepare for the Journey’s heart, or central Ordeal. This may involve the character facing their greatest fear or the most dangerous part of their journey. In the last stage, the character committed to the change taking place in their life, in this stage, they may be getting ready to decide to commit to the other character. The character must confront their greatest fears in order to claim their goal. It may not be a literal cave, it could be a metaphorical one. This is where the heroine who has pledged never to love, realises she loves the hero, and so opens herself up to the risks of pain and heartbreak. Often, it can decision by a heroine to consummate her love with the hero, if she’s been resisting. For a hero who has never trusted a woman, or the woman who doesn’t want to rely on a man, it could be the moment when they realise they’re going to have to. They don’t act on it yet, but they know they are going to. This is the stage of preparing for even bigger change.

8. THE ORDEAL. Near the middle of the story, the hero or heroine enters a central space in the Special World and confronts death or faces what they believe is their greatest fear. Out of the moment of death comes a new life. In a romance, this is not usual literal death, but a psychic or emotional one. The decision made in the last stage is acted on. Depending on how the other character responds, they are facing a very real risk of failure in their journey. The heroine gives herself sexually to the hero, placing herself physically in his hands. The hero is forced to trust the heroine, not knowing for sure if she will be worthy of his trust or betray him. The audience feels the same suspense wondering if the character will survive unscathed. The Ordeal is the central, essential, and magical Stage of any Journey.

This stage is where I go a different road to some other romance writers applying the mythic structure to romance. Okay, they’re published and I’m not, what would I know? But I can’t see that this stage is the Black Moment, as some writers say. It’s supposed to happen halfway through the book for one thing. And there’s another even darker moment ahead. I believe that in this stage the character shows their willingness to face “death” for the other, whatever that means to them. It does represent a major change or transition, such as from virgin to sexually awakened; or closed emotionally to opening up; or untrusting to willing to trust. The old self is dead, but the future is not yet sure. In a story with a double black moment, this may be the first black moment, but worse is yet to come.

This is stage is a such a major change for the character that it has that life or death feel about it.

9. THE REWARD. This is a stage of celebration. The character enjoys the rewards of their sacrifice in the last stage. In romance, it looks like the relationship is working out and everything is going to be fine. This may be a honeymoon period, after first sex, the declaration of love, or the other character seeming to prove themselves worthy of trust. The happy ever after seems assured. Except that there’s another forty or fifty pages to go, at least, and the reader knows things are never that easy!

In this stage, the characters come to terms with the new life that the last section brought them into. They have made some significant changes, but have not yet overcome their deepest relationship blocks. They are able to be happy together only because they are still in the Special World, where normal rules do not apply. They now need to move back into the Ordinary World an create a relationship strong enough to survive there.

10. THE ROAD BACK. About three-fourths of the way through the story, the character is driven to complete the journey of emotional growth. Some event forces them back into action. This is the part where the “villain” who appeared to be dead in the last section suddenly comes after the her and heroine again. In a romance, it’s probably not an external villain at this stage, though that can be the catalyst, but an even deeper layer of emotional conflict and relationship block. It can be another betrayal, or a new conflict between the hero and heroine, which symbolises something more- one character’s recognition that they have grown and changed, opened their heart, become a different person, but the other has not. This is the place where a character who has conflicting goals realises that both are not possible, and that one be sacrificed. In a romance, this may be the choice between following their original personal goal or following their heart. One character forces the return to the Ordinary World, and breaks the illusion of happiness they were enjoying.

11. THE RESURRECTION. At the climax, the character is tested once more, even more severely than before. This is the true Black Moment. He or she is required to make a last sacrifice, face another moment of death and rebirth, but on a higher and more complete level. This represents the final and complete removal of the deepest relationship blocks. This is the stage of emotional catharsis, of a full and complete letting go of anything holding the character back from a new life. The character shows that they have learned the life lessons they needed to, they can bring all they learned and gained in the Special World back into the Ordinary World. They have passed the final test, shown their worth and strength of character, and are reborn as their truest self. Now at last they can claim the love that is they have truly earned and shown themselves worthy of by their actions.

12. RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR. The hero or heroine returns home to rebuild a brand new Ordinary Life, that is transformed as they have been transformed by whatever they bring back from the Special World. The questions raised at the beginning of the story are now all resolved. This is the real happy ever after, the full declaration of love and commitment from both main characters. It may be a marriage, or a pregnancy, or both. It may be the simple knowledge that this couple can now move forward, secure in their love for each other.

The end!

So that’s the hero’s journey. My job for tomorrow is to play around with it some more and apply it to my current story.

Here are the links to sites I used researching this-
Chris Vogler’s own site
I actually have no idea who’s site this is, but it was hugely helpful!
Historical paranormal writer Colleen Gleason’s site