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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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

Favourite e-mails.

I love e-mails. I love their immediacy and the fact they can consist of only a single word or a whole screed.

I’m currently having a great e-mail conversation with my aunt.  She’s helping me edit one of my books which is set during WW2. But it’s not just her professional feedback I’m enjoying, it’s the little tidbits about her family life growing up that she keeps dropping in. Totally fascinating. I just love firing up my laptop in the morning and sitting down with my breakfast cup of tea to see what’s in my mailbox from her. (And one of these days I hope to persuade her to start her own blog on Growing up in Glasgow in the 30s and 40s so everyone can read her stories.)

But just edging her out this week was an e-mail I received yesterday which made me really – really – happy.  I’ve known Dee Van Dyk for… let’s leave it at a long time! She was my first introduction (via snail mail!) to the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association (ARWA) and has grown from being a colleague to a good friend. For many years she’s focused on non-fiction, publishing articles in many major magazines, but a few months ago – after several years of puttering around with a YA novel idea – she joined ARWA’s Summer Challenge to complete a first draft over the summer months.

Yesterday morning I woke up to the following e-mail header:  Do you know what this is?

And when I clicked on the image?

Her completed first draft of her YA Novel The Sin Eater!

dee imagge

It just shows what a person can achieve if they have passion and persistence.

Having read the first thirty pages, I can’t wait to read  the completed manuscript. Dee’s a hugely talented writer with a unique, vibrant voice. She’s going to the Surrey International Writers Conference this fall to pitch Sin Eater and I have no doubts it will be snapped up.

When she hits the bestseller list, don’t forget that you heard her name here first.

Way to go, Dee!

And keep those good news e-mails coming!

Writers’ Retreat – Day One

It’s 11.30pm, so I’m going to cheat here and repost an article I just wrote for the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association blog. If you are an ARWA member and would like to join the discussion tomorrow, please contact me and give me your Skype address.

If you live in Calgary or Southern Alberta, stay safe and warm.

* * *

Despite the flooding here in Calgary, nine of us managed to get together for the first day or our retreat – five in person and four later on in the evening via Skype.

Our discussion brought up a few interesting topics.

1) Should we dumb down our writing – especially vocabulary – for our readers? Most readers read for pleasure/leisure and research shows that the most popular reading level is Grade 8/9. The reader wants to be able to lose himself a story, not constantly looking up the dictionary to find out what a word means. So, yes, do feel free to use the occasional ‘hard’ word but make sure the context is clear. If you want to find out what ‘level’ you write at, check out autocrit. There is also a facility on Word that allows you to do so.

2) Episodic writing. Charles Dickens was the master of episodic writing, but it appears to be having a comeback. Alexander McCall Smith recently released his book 44 Scotland Street. It was first published in The Scotsman, one chapter every weekday for six months – 100 short chapters. Not all the chapters end with a cliffhanger, but McCall knew he had to create an ending which would made the reader want to check in with the story the following day.

So what’s created a renewed interest in the episodic style? It could be the prevalence of blogging – Julie and Julia for example. For a video take on the episodic story, check out The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a fresh retelling of Pride and Prejudice through the daily entry of a modern day blogger.

3) What we sometimes find from both unpublished and multi-published authors is the tendency to recount a scene/event from one person’s POV and then immediately retell the exact same scene from another character’s POV. Unless this is done with great skill it can pull the writer out of the story or bore them. Better to ‘move the story forward’, choose the most relevant POV character and only write the scene once!

We’re going to be meeting at 3pm on Skype tomorrow afternoon. If you’re an ARWA member and would like to join in the conversation you can do so either in person at Diana’s house, or via Skype. Just e-mail Diana with your Skype address and she’ll add you to the list. These are the topics we’ll be discussing:
1) How do we apply the ‘rules’ to our writing yet maintain our own ‘voice’?
2) Define ‘voice’.
3) Give an example of one piece of music/song that triggers your writing – and tell us why?
4) Define success? Does its definition depend upon which stage of the writing journey you are currently on.
5) Can/should an author put too much of themselves into their stories/characters.

ARWA Retreat meets The Great Calgary Flood

The worst flooding for 100 years.  We’re less than a mile from some of the most badly hit areas, but fortunately we’re warm and dry and still have power.  Four ARWA members have managed to make it in for the retreat – others who were coming in from out of town are staying home for safety, but we’re going to meet on Skype tonight.

http://globalnews.ca/video/661728/raw-video-downtown-calgary-flooding

This is probably the worst disaster Calgary has ever seen. Our mayor,  Naheed Nenshi, has apparently just been on CNN. It appears that out of the 100,000 people forced from their homes, only 1,500 have had to use the public shelters, such is the generosity of Calgarians.  As a city, Calgary rocks!

Stay safe out there, everyone.

ARWA Writers’ Retreat

I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog this week as I’ve been cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.  I’m hosting ARWA’s annual writing retreat this weekend –  I’ll have eight people staying the weekend, with a few others popping in for the day and more coming on Saturday evening for a pot-luck supper – and I’m not renowned for being the best housewife in the world.

And then the rain fell!

I’ve been lucky.  Some seepage in my basement and a leak in my kitchen roof, but other than that I’m fine.  Not so more than 100,000 other Calgarians! A state of emergency has been called in the city and other areas in Southern Alberta. I’ve lived in Calgary since ’88 and I’ve never – ever – seen anything like this before.

http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Municipal+emergency+plan+activated+officials+Elbow+rivers/8553449/story.html

Forget-Me-Not

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog front recently. No excuse, really. Just distraction.

Elona Malterre talked to The Alberta Romance Writers’ Association a few weeks ago on Writing The Short Story. She’s a multi-published author and one of the founding members of The Alberta Romance Writers’ Association. One of the comments she made really stood out for me: A short story involves unity of Place, Time and Action.

I’m probably not going to be blogging much next week. I’m hosting a writing retreat at my house next weekend, so between then and now I’m going to be busy cleaning, cleaning, cleaning! Until then, here is a short story for you to read, Forget-Me-Not.

I hope you enjoy it.