The Virgin’s Promise/Notes

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!!

INTRODUCTION:

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.

imagesWhich 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!!)

ARCHETYPES

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.

MOTHER/GODDESS
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.

CRONE:
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.)

COWARD:
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.)

LOVER/KING:
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.)

TYRANT:
Seeks to use power for personal gain and is unfeeling towards the feminine. (Not necessarily female.)
He asserts his will physically.

MENTOR:
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

 ACT ONE:

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.
Material Survival
Social Convention
Protection
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.
Actively pursued.
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.

ACT TWO:

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:
Reckless.
Attract attention.
Declare her task too hard.

7) CAUGHT SHINING: Her two worlds collide and the consequences she feared come to pass.
She grows too big.
Circumstances change.
She is recognized by the dependent world while she’s in her secret world.
Betrayed.

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.

ACT THREE:

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Outlander/Cross Stitch

outlanderI first read Outlander – or Cross Stitch as it was called in the UK – back in 1992. A wonderful mix of romance, adventure and history set in Scotland, I loved it and recommended it to friends and family. I even wrote to Diana Gabaldon asking for an interview for the writers’ group I belong to, The Alberta Romance Writers’ Association, and she was extremely generous with her time and answers.

So when I heard it was finally being adapted as a TV series by Starz, I was both excited and a little anxious. Would they do it justice? We’re now two episodes in, so what are my feelings so far?

Here’s what I like.

1) I’m so happy that a story set in Scotland has actually been filmed in Scotland – unlike some other famous ‘Scottish’ movies I could name. The scenery is stunning and I’ve had a lot of fun figuring out the locations. If you’re planning on visiting Scotland and would like to check out the Outlander sites, even Visit Scotland has got in on the act and created an Outlander map.

2) I think all three main characters, Clare, Jamie and Frank/Jack have been very well cast and are doing a great job. And I’m thrilled to see Gary Lewis, one of my favourite character actors, playing Colum.

3) The fact that they’re sticking to the book. It was interesting to hear the producer say that the series has been made for the book’s fans. Having dabbled in the world of screenwriting myself I understand the huge difference between writing for the page and writing for the screen, so I appreciate that the writers have stuck to the book as closely as they have. But then, they had good source material to start with, didn’t they!

As for the ‘Meh’?

1) The Scottish twee. Admittedly the major audience for this series will be the US and I feel what’s being presented is how they imagine Scotland, and Scottish people, to be. However, as a Scot, there have been places where I have squirmed uncomfortably. There was one scene in the first episode where it felt like Dougal and the Scottish Dwarves… all named Goofy. And as for some of the accents..! And lines. A patient not liking ‘being stuck with a needle’? That’s not an expression I ever heard until I moved to the western side of the pond. But again, the major audience will be American and they might not be familiar with the term ‘injection’ or ‘jag’, so I’m probably just being picky.

2) The nudity. I’m not talking about the sex scenes, but the ones with Clare dressing and Jamie’s sister being attacked in the second episode. I don’t like to think I’m a prude – although maybe I am. This series was advertised as Scotland’s Game of Thrones, and for that reason I know of 3 men in particular who tuned in.  One gave up half way through the first episode, the second at the end of the first hour, and the third has vowed to watch no more having persevered through the second episode. Now, there may be many men who continue to watch and love the series, but my feeling is that the main audience is and will continue to be female. Do women really want to see so much female nudity? Is it necessary to the scene(s) or is it exploiting the actresses? People might argue that I feel this way because, ‘You’re just jealous because you’re older and will never have a body like that again’. Fair enough if that’s what they believe, but because I’m older, and have been around the block a few times, I think I can recognize exploitation when I see it.

But as I said above, I’m being picky.

If you loved the books, there’s waaay more right with the series than is wrong – you can’t please all the people all the time –  so I’ll definitely keep watching. But my advice to anyone would be ‘Read the book first’! Always, read the book.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Outlander/Cross Stitch and the job of bringing it to the screen.

 

 

 

When Words Collide

I spent a great few days last weekend at the When Words Collide conference here in Calgary. Now in its fourth year, it just keeps getting better and better.

Special guests this years included writers, Jack Whyte (check out his website just to listen to his amazing voice!) Brandon Sanderson, Robert J. Sawyer, Jacqueline Guest, Mark Leslie and Shirlee Smith Matheson and editor Adrienne Kerr.

I belong to a wonderful writing group The Alberta Romance Writers’ Association, whose members generously share their knowledge and expertise on both the craft and business of writing, but sometimes you need to get out there and hear from other experts in their field. So much has changed in the publishing world that it’s hard – and sometimes a little intimidating – to keep up, but the focus remains on bringing the best book to the reader whether it is traditionally published or self-published.

The dates and location have already been set up for next year’s WWC – August 14-16th at the Delta Calgary South – and registration is open. At the bargain basement price of $40 it’s a wonderful deal.

See you there!

When Words Collide – Theme Workshop

I’m really excited to be giving two workshops at this year’s When Words Collide Conference in Calgary, August 8-10th.

The first, on Friday morning, is part of a pre-festival workshop offered by The Alberta Romance Writers’ Association where I will be presenting along with fellow writers Jessica L. Jackson, Mahrie G. Reid and Sarah Kades.

The topic I’m discussing is Theme and its importance in your story. This is a subject I feel passionate about because theme is the heart of your story.

If you would like to check out my handout and read my thoughts on the importance of theme, please CLICK HERE for a link.

I will also be talking about The Heroine’s Journey on Sunday morning at 11am and will be posting a link to that handout on Sunday morning.

Happy Conference, everyone.

Searching For…

I’m really excited about the project the writing group I belong to – The Alberta Romance Writers’ Association/ARWA – is currently involved with.  (I know, I know… the prepositions in that sentence are in the wrong places, but it sounded too formal written the ‘proper’ way!)

Back in November, under the stewardship of multi-published author Jessica L. Jackson, ARWA decided to promote a series of books with the theme Searching For…

The cross genre novels are between 40-70,000 words, the link between them being the main character must be Searching For… something.  That ‘something‘ can be a person/place/thing/peace of mind,  so the writer’s imagination is not limited.

This week saw the launch of the first book in the Searching For Series.  Written by Mahrie G. Reid, it’s a mystery entitled, Sheldon Harris Came Home Dead.

Please check it out.  I will be announcing future releases on this blog as they are published.

Mahrie

Writing Sexual Tension – Tammy Lyn Carbol

Tammy Lyn photo

Calgary writer Tammy Lyn Carbol presented a fabulous workshop on Sexual Tension at the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association meeting last week.

Using examples from the movies Zorro and Pride and Prejudice (2005), she reminded us that sexual tension is NOT about the sex act.  It’s about anticipation.  It’s slow, deliberate and can take time.

How to achieve that?

1) Make the attraction each character feels for the other blatantly obvious to the reader.

2) There must be conflict between the couple.  No conflict = No tension.

3) Use internal dialogue. Does the hero have to clench his hands at his side to prevent him reaching out to touch the heroine?

4) Even when they are not together, they should be thinking of the other.

5) Be patient. Take it slow.  Build the anticipation.

6) Then… give them a taste… then pull back.

7) When it looks like their relationship is going to work, pull them apart again. (Perhaps through the external conflict.) Tease the reader.

8) Try not to resolve their relationship until the very end.

Tammy cautioned us to be very aware of the different reactions between a man and a woman in a sexually charged situation.  A man will respond in a sexual manner while the woman’s response will be more emotional. As writers we must remember that if our characters are going to sound ‘real’.

Tammy also recommended that we watch the proposal scene from Pride and Prejudice (2005). It crackles with sexual tension. Watch Darcy and Elizabeth. They can’t take their eyes off each other.  And watch (around 2.37) where they lean in and – just for a moment – we think they might kiss.

Thanks, Tammy Lyn, for a GREAT workshop! And if you would like to check out more of Tammy Lyn’s writing, please visit her website: http://www.tammylyncarbol.com

All change!

I love learning new things, and this was a great weekend to do so.

First off, I watched a BBC documentary – Nelson’s Carribbean Hell-hole: An Eighteenth Century Naval Graveyard Uncovered – and learned the following facts:

1) Faced with a choice of committing all their Royal Navy resources to fighting the Americans in The Revolutionary War or protecting their lucrative West Indies sugar-trade, the British government decided their priority was the latter rather than the former.  (They never taught us THAT at school!)  Had Britain chosen to concentrate on war with the US rather than sugar and rum, history could have turned out very differently. Hmmm.

2) There are no rivers in Antigua therefore all water comes from ‘the sky’ and must be collected in specially designed water-chambers.

3) Although many – many – sailors in the West Indies died from tropical diseases, the majority probably died from lead poisoning from the bottles containing the rum they drank.

But the most important thing I learned this weekend came from an Alberta Romance Writers’ Association workshop. It turns out there’s a whole new genre of fiction out there! Boomer-Lit. Who knew? But it makes absolute sense, doesn’t it?

There are millions of boomers out there and they want to read about themselves.

Check out this Goodreads site for more info – and happy writing!

(And reading!)