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Stuck When it Comes to Plotting? Try Using the Heroine’s Journey by Deborah A. Bailey

Have you ever felt like you hit a brick wall when you were plotting your novel? If you’re like me, you might have a lot of good ideas – and exciting characters – but panic sets in when it’s time to plot.

Usually, I get scenes in my head, then I start to get an understanding of the characters. But I often don’t stop to consider the plot until I’ve written several scenes. But then when it is time to sit down and think about how I’m moving my story along, that’s when my writers’ block sets in.

What do I do now? Where do my characters start and where are they going?

Years ago I found out about the Heroine’s Journey after taking a class on archetypes. I’d heard of the Hero’s Journey (based on the works of Joseph Campbell) but I’d never realized that heroines got their own journey too.


There are a lot of variations of plot structure, but overall, you have to have your character start somewhere. After your set up, there’s rising action, the climax, falling action and the resolution of your story. And, of course, your character’s arc is entwined with that. Your character’s challenges and ultimate growth is really what it’s all about. But how to get the wheels turning and create a situation that readers will care about?

That’s where the Heroine’s Journey comes in to help you guide your characters along.

Heroine’s Journey

The important parts of the Journey include: Awakening – Taking the Risk – Dark Night – Learning to Trust – Transformation.

When using these points to plot your book, you can create an overview of the events that will become key parts of your story.

Here’s an example:

  • Awakening: your character’s “normal world” – this is her starting point before things get going.
  • Taking the Risk: A challenge of some kind comes up and your heroine must make a decision – will she move out of her comfort zone? She’ll have to get the story rolling. But what decision will she have to make and why is she making it? What does she hope to gain?
  • Dark Night: This is also known as the “black moment.” Or, it can be a symbolic death or loss of some kind. Things look bleak and she might feel she can’t go on. What will happen to get her to the next step?
  • Learning to Trust: Someone is coming to assist her, or a group will support her. This is where the hero (and secondary characters) can step up. Will she accept their assistance and learn to trust her own judgment?
  • Transformation: The completion of the character arc. Your heroine has come through everything you’ve thrown at her, and she’s grown. And the best part is, she’s now ready for another story (if she’s part of a series). Her transformational world will be her “normal world” in the next book.

Character Transformation

Using the Journey is great for character-driven stories since you’re focused on her challenges and transformation. She doesn’t move forward because the plot demands it, but because her own growth pushes her.

For instance, ever seen a movie where the heroine is running away and she (predictably) trips and falls? Then she is (predictably) grabbed by the antagonist?

Now, if she’s a runner and this happens (and she’s not running in the woods or someplace with a lot of reasons to trip) then it might end up looking contrived and silly.

Once you know your heroine and what she wants, you’ll know how to proceed and how to guide her. You never want things to happen that don’t make sense (based on what you know about the character up to that point). Readers will find it hard to be invested in stories like that.

Using the Journey will allow you to discover your character, and structure her arc as you build your story. You’ll reveal her fears, vulnerabilities and her strengths. And she’ll need all those things to move from the normal world to her transformation at the end.

The Heroine’s Journey is both a roadmap and a template. Use it to build your story and create characters who your readers will love to root for.

Love this?

Check out Deb’s class!


Once Upon A Princess: Land of Dreams

Formula for Fairy Tale Love: 1 adventurous Heroine + 1 tortured-but-noble Hero = Happily-Ever-After.

In the rich and fertile land called Montrose, humans and creatures of magic exist together in a complex web of harmony…and deceit.

Willem was created of magic and trapped in the Land of Dreams by a curse in which he shared his gargoyle form with Eduardo. When Eduardo freed himself from the evil spell his jealous half-brother Erokan cast on him, Willem was given a new life. Now a gargoyle shifter, Willem meets Cicely, daughter of Lord Montrose. Everything he’s ever wanted is within his grasp. But he isn’t the only man who longs to capture her.

Aware Cicely descends from royalty and was hidden away as a child to keep her magical ability a secret, a mysterious stranger intends to bend the powerful fire elemental to his will.

Cicely knows she possesses magical ability. Falling in love with the courageous, self-sacrificing Willem may be the key to awakening…or unleashing…something formidable buried deep inside her.

Buy this book @ books2Read or Amazon!





Deborah A Bailey’s Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance stories include suspense, a bit of mystery and a lot of romantic heat. Her speculative f...