The Twelve Stages of a Heroine’s Journey
We all can be heroes of our own story; however, after giving numerous book readings, I discovered that my readers were not familiar with the classical journey of a hero as described by Joseph Campbell. In his book, A Hero with a Thousand Faces, he first summarized the heroine’s journey, and since then many successful books and Hollywood movies have used this narrative line: think of The Wizard of Oz, and Star Wars, Superman, Huckleberry Finn, Batman, and Hercules. Campbell stated, “A heroine/hero is someone who has given her or his life to something bigger than oneself.”
1. Ordinary beginnings:
In Greek days the heroine would be the child of both a God and a human, giving the heroine a divine lineage; however, this myth has been changed in modern times to have the person come from humble beginnings and usually an ordinary life, thus making it easier for us to identify with her.
2. Call to Adventure:
The heroine is invited to accept a challenge and might have doubts at first.
3. Refusal of the Call
The heroine may refuse the call at first, expressing self-doubt or inability to leave home. This helps the reader to identify with the fear she might have about taking on a new challenge.
4. Meeting the Mentor:
The heroine needs to have guidance to accept the challenge and will find a mentor or the mentor will unexpectedly arrive. The mentor will give advice, practical training and some self-confidence to the heroine, thus giving her the courage to take on her quest.
5. Crossing the Threshold:
The heroine now has the physical and mental strength to leave her home and venture into the unknown.
6. Test, Allies, Enemies:
Many obstacles, challenges, dangers must be overcome by the heroine as she learns about her own abilities and weaknesses. The people she meets can help and harm her as she journeys through unknown territory toward her ultimate goal. She will learn who can be trusted and who will try to thwart her dreams. She will be hampered by one flaw in her personality, but she will learn to overcome this.
7. Journey to the underworld or labyrinth:
The heroine ventures into the underworld where she must confront her own death or a terrible danger. Here she will confront all her fears and doubts about the adversity that lies ahead if she continues. Now the reader will understand the magnitude of the quest and the possible consequences.
The final ordeal is some physical test or confrontation where the heroine risks everything. She must face her greatest fear and use all the skills she has gained through her a journey to overcome the challenge. Here is the point of tension where the heroine could lose everything.
After defeating the enemy, surviving death and overcoming the personal challenge, the heroine emerges as a stronger more self-confident human and usually wins her reward. She is now ready to return home.
10. The Return Home:
The heroine still has adversity to overcome on her return home. Her journey is not over and she must commit to a higher cause other than her personal glory.
Often the heroine faces one more brush with death where her existence is threatened and the consequences will affect not only her own life but the lives of those around her.
12. Sharing the gift
Once home the heroine will be a changed person. She will have gained many attributes, grown physically and spiritually, and be ready to start her new life. There will be a resolution for the other characters also, both her compatriots and her enemies.
Joseph Campbell recognized that there is a heroine in all of us if we just chose to take on the challenges that confront us. To my many readers, now see if you can chart Lia, my protagonist’s heroic journey.