Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Using the Heroine's Journey for Plotting Your Book

Posted by: Deborah A Bailey

Years ago, I read “The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers” by Christopher Vogler. It's based on Joseph Campbell’s work with the Hero's Journey (also referenced by George Lucas for Star Wars). What I didn't know, was that there’s also a Heroine’s Journey.

 That journey is the inner journey for the heroine to face her deepest fears and desires. When she finally faces them, she can come to terms with herself and her place in the world.

Using that structure has been helpful in plotting my own novels. That's often been my least favorite part of working on a book. So, I'll refer to the Heroine's Journey when I'm stuck on a plot point (or two).

There are different versions of the Journey, but this is the one I usually use.

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 and 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

My story may not include every step, but usually I'll include these: Awakening, Taking the Risk, Dark Night, Learning to Trust, and Transformation.


Usually the Heroine is being called to level up and experience something larger.

Taking the Risk

The Heroine answers the call and takes a leap of faith out of her comfort zone.  

Dark Night

It may seem like everything is falling apart, but it’s really falling together. Unfortunately, the Heroine has to experience this in order to get what she wants.

Learning to Trust

If she wants to move forward, the Heroine has to accept support and help from others.


Stories start out with a character wanting something. The Heroine has to get from her starting point to achieving her desires at the end. At the conclusion of the Journey (and the story), she’ll be transformed by her experiences.

The Heroine's Journey & The Hero's Journey

Even though it’s called the Heroine’s Journey, it isn’t gender specific. Your Hero can also take this journey for his emotional transformation. (And, female characters can take the Hero’s Journey as well.)

For instance, in my fairy tale inspired novella, "Once Upon A Princess: Heart of Stone," the princess goes on a quest to find riches. She needs them to help her people, who are suffering after dark magic has devastated her lands. But, she's also on an emotional journey that begins when she meets a shifter who offers her assistance.


Stories entertain and can also teach us how to deal with adversity. They allow us to feel exhilaration when the conflicts are resolved.  

 As your characters explore their worlds, your readers will be right with them. By using these journeys as inspiration, you’ll create stories that your readers will find impossible to put down.

If you'd like to learn more, there are variations of the Heroine’s Journey, including one by Victoria Schmidt and a version in Kim Hudson’s book, “The Virgin’s Promise.”

Looking for more reading material while you're sheltering in place?

My book, "Once Upon A Princess Duet: Two Paranormal Fairy Tales" is on sale for 0.99 on most online bookstores until April 30th. Included are the novellas, Heart of Stone and Beauty & the Faun.

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