Many thanks to all of you who turned out to my workshop on Kim Hudson’s book The Virgin’s Promise at the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association yesterday. Because of the snowstorm, a few people who had planned to attend were unable to because of the weather. So here’s the collection of three blogs I previously wrote on the subject. I hope you find them useful. And please go out and buy Kim Hudson’s book. You won’t regret it!!
For those of us who’ve been around the writing block for any length of time and read books on the craft, it’s very exciting when you discover a book that takes a completely fresh approach and makes you look at ‘story’ in a whole new way.
Which is exactly what Kim Hudson does in her book The Virgin’s Promise. Deciding that the twelve steps of The Hero’s Journey didn’t quite work for her, she spent five years researching and watching movies before completing The Virgin’s Promise.
There are three main sections to her book: The difference between Myths and Fairytales; The Twelve Archetypes; The Thirteen Stages of the Virgin’s Journey.
In essence, myths are about self-sacrifice while fairy tales are about self-fulfillment. Myths follow the 12 steps of The Hero’s Journey while fairytales follow the 13 steps of the Virgin’s Journey. But don’t start thinking that one is purely male and the other female. Rocky, that iconic movie of the 70s, follows the virgin’s path, rather than that of the hero.
FAIRYTALES: (The Virgin’s Journey)
Centered on self-worth and self-hood.
They answer the protagonist’s questions: Who do I know myself to be? What do I want to do in the world, separate from what everyone else wants of me?
They can be casual, every day events that take place in the domestic realm.
They are a journey towards psychological independence.
It is a PULL towards a joy that drives the character’s transformation.
They are a journey to SELF-FULLFILMENT
MYTHS: (The Hero’s Journey)
Centre around obligation.
They answer the hero’s question: Could I survive in the greater world or am I to forever cling to the nurturing world of my mother for fear or death.
They are a journey of physical independence.
The hero usually leaves his community or ‘kingdom’
The hero is transformed by a need to conquer fear
They are tales of SELF-SACRIFICE.
THE VIRGIN: (The Virgin’s Journey/fairytale)
Knows her dream.
She brings her dream to life while surrounded by the influences of her ‘Kingdom’.
The obstacle for the virgin is her community.
The virgin is about BEING.
The supporting characters in the virgin’s story are out of balance and grow with her.
The virgin has friends.
THE HERO: (The Hero’s Journey/myth)
Faces mortal danger by leaving his ‘village’ and proving he can exist in the larger world.
The obstacle for the hero is the evil threatening his village/kingdom.
The Hero is about DOING.
The hero has allies and their goal is of mutual interest.
Please click on this LINK to her website. (If it says the link has been taken down, click on the X and – abracadabra – the site will appear!!)
Read different books on archetypes and they might list six, fourteen, twenty-four, or even thirty-nine possible archetypes.
What I love about Kim Hudson’s take on archetypes in her book The Virgin’s Promise, is that she boils it down to twelve (six male, six female) to represent the beginning, middle and end of human life. Each stage of life archetype has its shadow side.
The shadow side may be where the character begins his journey before he transforms. (eg Scrooge the Miser transforms into a Mentor. The Hero initially ‘Refuses the Call’.) The Shadow side is where the character will end up if he/she doesn’t transform. The shadow side can also be portrayed by another character in the story as a warning of what is at stake emotionally if the character fails to transform. Think Marty’s father in Back to the Future at the beginning and then end of the film. He transforms. Biff doesn’t.
|THE VIRGIN’S PROMISE / FAIRYTALE
||THE HERO’S JOURNEY / MYTH
|VIRGIN – WHORE
MOTHER /GODDESS – FEMME FATALE
CRONE – HAG
|HERO – COWARD
LOVER / KING – TYRANT
MENTOR – MISER
THE VIRGIN’S PROMISE/ FAIRYTALE
VIRGIN: (Not necessarily female. Think Rocky.)
Hers is a journey of self-fulfilment.
Knows what she wants.
Brings her dream to life while surrounded by the influences of her ‘kingdom’.
She is about ‘being’.
Her obstacle is her community.
The Virgin has Friends.
WHORE: (Shadow side)
She is caught in a life that services the needs, values, power and directions of others to her own detriment and neglect.
She sells her soul to conform to the expectations of others.
Enters into a relationship. (Man/woman/parent/child/community.) That union leads to her wholeness.
Knows her power and uses her talents to nurture and inspire.
FEMME FATALE: (Shadow side)
To maintain an imbalance of power, the Femme Fatale will use emotional manipulation. (Think Cersei in Game of Thrones.)
This leads to emasculation, dehumanization and mistrust.
The crone releases her power to leave a positive impact on another.
She often puts the protagonist in a difficult situation where they are challenged to grow and transform.
HAG: (Shadow side)
Diverts the Lover/King from his true destiny into a hopeless union with her. She robs the next generation of its future and spreads dooms.
She cripples people with fear and interferes with their lives. (Think Glenn Close in Dangerous Liasons.)
THE HERO’S JOURNEY/MYTH
HERO: (not necessarily male. Think Katniss in The Hunger Games.)
Faces mortal danger by leaving his ‘village’ and proving he can live in a larger world.
His is a journey of self-sacrifice.
He is about ‘doing’.
The obstacle for the hero is evil – usually an evil that threatens his ‘village’.
Hero has allies whose goal is of mutual interest. (Think of the scarecrow, tin man and cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz.)
He is so fearful of death that his life occupies a small space.
He fails to explore the world beyond his own village.
He has no confidence he can survive on his own.
Avoids anything that could lead to death or hardship.
(Think a bully or Judas.)
Asserts his will over others (even against their will) to bring integrity, justice and security to the community.
He is challenged to surrender his heart to the feminine.
By allowing love to become central to life (not necessarily a woman – can be a child or friend) he gains a form of immortality. (Think Mr Tom in Goodnight Mr Tom.)
Seeks to use power for personal gain and is unfeeling towards the feminine. (Not necessarily female.)
He asserts his will physically.
Can be a philanthropist.
Transfers gifts of wisdom and knowledge to worthy recipients. (Think Obi Wan Kenobi)
MISER: (Shadow side)
Hoards his wealth – real or metaphorical – for himself.
Ignores the effect of his neglect on others. (Think Scrooge.)
THE THIRTEEN STEPS OF THE VIRGIN’S PROMISE:
In this third and final blog installment – The Thirteen Steps of the Virgin’s Promise – taken from Kim Hudson’s book The Virgin’s Promise, I can only offer you a hint – a flavour – of her concepts and ideas.
The thirteen steps Hudson describes are fascinating, all the more so because she compares them with the twelve steps of The Hero’s Journey. And if you read her book (which I highly recommend!) she takes several movies, which follow the Hero’s Journey and others which follow the Virgin’s, and points out each step.
Plus, you know she’s on to something important when Christopher Vogler himself (The Writer’s Journey) says in the forward: This book repeatedly pounds me how much I didn’t know… Many of the terms she uses are compatible with those of the Hero’s Journey and simply emphasize a different shade of meaning in some common signposts. But other elements of her grammar of storytelling are unique, recognizing turning points that don’t have equivalents in the Hero’s Journey language, that are uniquely feminine, or at least reflective of a more inward and emotionally based approach to drama and life.
THE THIRTEEN STEPS
By Kim Hudson
1) DEPENDENT WORLD: This is often the domestic realm. The people around the virgin are dependent on her or vice-versa. There remains a force within her kingdom – and within her – that keeps her attached to this world.
Need for Love.
2) PRICE OF CONFORMITY: This is about the suppression of the true self. Even if the virgin knows what she wants, she might not see a way of getting it because she may be:
Sleeping through life.
Living with restrictive boundaries
Living a life of servitude.
Facing psychological danger.
3) OPPORTUNITY TO SHINE: Something happens here that allows the Virgin to reveal her talent, dream or true nature. It can be:
Directed by fate.
A wish fulfilled.
A response to someone in need.
The result of a push from the crone.
4) DRESSES THE PART: This can be a fun moment for the audience or reader, but it is NOT a frivolous moment.
She becomes beautiful.
Receives a physical object she begins to use.
Participates in a fashion show and knows her potential.
Undresses (not necessarily physically) to reveal her full potential.
5) SECRET WORLD: Once the virgin has had a taste of living her dream and made it a tangible reality, she creates a Secret World in which to experiment and practice in her journey to realize that dream.
Creates her world: This can be a physical place or a state of mind.
Fear of Discovery: What if she’s found out?
6) NO LONGER FITS HER WORLD: She starts to see her dream as a possible reality but it becomes clear she can’t keep juggling the two worlds forever. At this point she may become:
Declare her task too hard.
7) CAUGHT SHINING: Her two worlds collide and the consequences she feared come to pass.
She grows too big.
She is recognized by the dependent world while she’s in her secret world.
8) GIVES UP WHAT KEPT HER STUCK: This is a MAJOR turning point. As Hudson says so beautifully: ‘Just as a butterfly sheds a drop of blood as it emerges from it cocoon and experiences a period of vulnerability, the virgin must sacrifice some of her past to move into her future.”
In her Price of Conformity, she had an experience that developed into a complex, burying her pain and creating a belief or pattern of behaviour that keeps her from taking action and claiming her life.
In this major turning point, she brings that belief or behavior to a conscious level and challenges it. She has lost her dream life and must take the steps necessary to make it reality. This begins with letting something go or of allowing it to die. The usual reasons to remain in the dependent world are:
Fear of Being Hurt.
Fear of Loss of Love.
9) KINGDOM IN CHAOS:
The world becomes uncomfortable.
The Kingdom uses its power to bring the virgin back into line.
10) WANDERS IN THE WILDERNESS: It was easy to follow her dream when the dependent world still existed as a fallback position, but it’s a different matter following the dream no matter what the consequences. She finds herself faced with:
Test of Conviction.
Moment of Doubt.
11) CHOOSES HER LIGHT: She trusts herself and pursues her dream whatever happens.
Last stage of transformation.
Introduces her true form to the kingdom.
12) RE-ORDERING/RESCUE: This is when her shadow side is truly banished.
She – and others – see her value.
Reconnects with her kingdom.
The false rescue. (In a false rescue, the Hero will fight for the virgin but only to prove he is brave or to assert his will over another.)
The Test: When the hero fails to value her true nature, the virgin must reject him.
Multiple rescues. There can be multiple rescues, each one testing the virgin.
(In writing a compelling romance, the rescue provides the CRUCIAL obstacle to love. The hero fails to value the virgin in her authentic form due to his:
Immaturity – Ever After
Fear of Commitment – Pretty Woman
Fear of Embarrassment – About a Boy)
13) THE KINGDOM IS BRIGHTER: The virgin has challenged the kingdom and thrown it into chaos. They have accepted her back and made adjustments to accommodate her AUTHENTIC nature or dream and realize the Kingdom is better off for having gone through this experience as it needed change.
Evil has been uncovered and removed.
New life has been injected into the kingdom.
Unconditional love binds the kingdom.
So there you have it – The Virgin’s Promise in thirteen steps. But as I said above, this is just a taste of Kim Hudson’s book. Please check it out, examine the films she talks about and you will see the important differences between the journey of the Hero and that of the Virgin. You won’t be disappointed.