The Heroine’s Journey: Stage Two- The Betrayal or Realization

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I’m back this week with another installment of the Heroine’s Journey series. Last week, I went over Stage One- The Illusion of the Perfect World. Once again, this post will chronicle the Heroine’s or Feminine Journey as outlined in the book 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt.

As previously stated, the heroine starts off her journey in “the perfect world.” This is a place that is detrimental to her transformation, a place that makes her miserable and holds her back. Our heroine is aware that there is something wrong, but she is not yet ready to face up to her problems. She hasn’t been pushed yet.

Enter, Stage Two. This is the part of the story where our heroine is forced to recognize that she can no longer survive in this world. She needs to take action. According to Schmidt, “everything important to the hero is taken away and she is pushed to a fork in the road where she must make a choice between going out into the world to actively face her fears or staying where she is and becoming a passive victim.” In some versions of the heroine’s journey, this is also known as the inciting incident. Something thrusts our heroine to the brink and she needs to decide the next course of action.

Schmidt goes into detail about the five coping strategies that heroines use and how they fall apart at the inciting incident. Those strategies are…

  1. The Naïve Strategy
  2. The Cinderella Strategy
  3. The Exceptional Strategy
  4. The Pleasing Type
  5. The Disappointed Type

According to Schmidt, the heroine who uses the naïve strategy is often hurt or abused. They feel betrayed by the world around them. The Cinderella Strategy is for women who lost the protection of a man. Women who use the exceptional strategy are often passed by for a promotion at work. The last two strategies are self explanatory.

I have found, through the course of my own writing, that it’s okay to mix and match these different coping mechanisms, to borrow what works and throw out what doesn’t. We don’t want our female protagonists (or our male protagonists who are going on a feminine journey) to feel one dimensional.

In The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen’s world is thrown upside down when her little sister Prim is chosen to be a tribute for District 12. Up until this point, Katniss’ goal was to keep her sister safe. And now that Prim is in danger, Katniss makes a fateful decision: she volunteers to take Prim’s place in the Hunger Games.

Katniss is the “disappointed type.” She is a woman who, according to Schmidt, “is pushed too far, usually by another person in a position of power.” The Capitol has forced Katniss’ hand. She can no longer sit by and simply watch injustice unfold around her. It is personal now. Her carefully crafted world, in which she is the sole provider for her family, has coming crashing down. The only way she can protect those she loves is by putting herself at risk. The illusion of safety in her “perfect world” has betrayed her and Katniss must face what is to come.

Stay to next week for Stage Three: The Awakening.

Until next time, kill your darlings, slay your dragons, and keep writing!

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