For the third installment of my Heroine’s Journey series, we will focus on Stage Three: The Awakening. So far, we have discussed the heroine’s Imperfect World (Stage One) and her Betrayal (Stage Two). Now, with the Awakening, our heroine has a very important decision to make.
According to the book 45 Master Characters, the heroine will be tempted into “depression, rage, and bitterness.” She has two paths laid out before her: the passive road and the active road. Heroines who choose the passive road often blame others or themselves, play the victim, distract themselves from the situation by remaining busy, or take some other extreme action like self-harm.
Heroines who choose the active road often learn from the betrayal and see it as a positive. They realize that they can no longer function by avoiding their problems, so they make a decision to challenge them. The active heroine goes after what she wants.
Sometimes, the heroine may initially react passively to the betrayal before she ultimately decides to move to a more active role.
Stage Three is where the heroine drops the coping strategies we discussed in Stage Two. She can no longer pretend that everything is alright. She has been deeply hurt and knows that the only way she is going to get better is if she makes a change.
This is also the stage where the heroine prepares for the journey ahead. Often times, this will be represented literally in a story with the heroine leaving her perfect world for the unknown. Our heroine is still not entirely confident in this stage, but she has the tools she needs to pass into Act 2.
In Stage Three of The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen realizes that, in order to protect her sister, she is going to have to leave her behind. Katniss knows that the likelihood of her surviving the Hunger Games is slim, but she pushes forward anyway. She doesn’t know it at this point, but she needs to grow from someone only concerned with her family to someone who is a hero to everyone.
Katniss says goodbye to Prim, Gale, and her mother, wondering if she is ever going to see them again. Katniss is a bit more passive at first. She is helpless as the District 12 Peacekeepers sweep her away onto the train. But she becomes more active when she promises Prim that she will win and come home. Now Katniss knows that she has no choice but to be the lone victor.
Next week, we embark on the tultumeous mine field known as Act 2.
Until then, kill your darlings, slay your dragons, and keep writing.