Saturday, 5 May 2007

The hero's Jounrey - revisited

Last week I was ticked off by Liz for not posting on the rest of the hero's journey. They were two reasons why I trailed off on blogging on the subject. Firstly, Her Parenthood Assignment had just been released and I wanted to blog on the background ideas, characters and setting. Secondly, I was having a bit of a love/hate thing with the hero's journey as I revised the current work in progress.

I had used it to help plot out English Lord, Ordinary Lady and, although I had tried to apply the principles to both the external and internal journeys, I'd ended up with too much plot. I had wanted to explore the relationship between the heroine her daughter more, but had run out of room, as the book had already gone in 2000 words over the 55,000 word limit.

It took my clever editor to point out that I should just cut a lot of the first few chapters and replace what I cut with scenes to up the emotional story (lots of forehead slapping went on at this point). The first three chapters had, quite frankly, been a huge pain in the bottom ever since I'd started writing the story. I had written them and rewritten them and rewritten them and I still wasn't getting it right.

The backstory contained there was relevant to the present day, but just needed trimming in favour of scenes that tapped into the emotional heart of the story. I learnt a good lesson in writing for the Romance line editing this book: never ignore the emotional hotspots in your book. In fact, if you can find an emotional angle that you haven't explored deeply, you need to do so. Mine it. Milk it. But not so much it becomes melodramatic. Easy to say, harder to do in practice.

Anyway, before I get all excited about another new book I'm reading, I thought I would finish blogging about the hero's journey. Here is a recap on the steps of covered so far with a link to the relevant posts here (start at the bottom of the page and work upwards):

  • The ordinary world – the hero's ordinary life before they embark on the adventure that is to follow.
  • The call to adventure – the trigger or catalyst. The moment when something happens to change the hero's life and throw them into a state of turmoil, forcing them to take action.
  • The refusal of the call – the adventure is going to test the hero to his very limits. He is right to hesitate. He may even refused outright until the stakes are raised and he is forced to go on willingly forward.
  • Meeting with the mentor – preparation for the quest may come in the form of a person to help and train the hero.

I'm at the beginning of a new book & going to ask myself the questions for each of these steps again, but this time I've learned my lesson. For a short romance, it's important to keep tightly centred on the hero and heroine and their emotional journey and that's what I'm going to map out this time – and try to keep the external plot in the background.


liz fenwick said...

Thanks, I've been waiting for this!!! :-)

Michelle Styles said...

Ah, yes, you need to use the hero's journey for the main or central arc of your story. In the case of a romance, it does need to be the growth of the emotional relationship.

If you try to work out the hero's journey for other bits. 1.You end up getting confused, and 2. the story loses its focus. Neither of which you want to happen.

All subplots etc must go back and support that central relationship.