07 November 2012

The Woman's Journey.

In fantasy, there's a lot of stories modeled after The Hero's Journey. A boy who is called to adventure, answers the call, faces challenges and hardships, and eventually defeats evil. That's a pretty simple breakdown, but it's all the books I ever read as a kid. To the point I sort of wished I'd been born a boy - they seemed to have MUCH cooler lives.

Then I read some romances, and the women just...fell in love. They didn't get to have sword fights or anything. They just...fell for some guy who eventually figured out he loved her, too. (Though I gravitated toward beta heroes, even then, so they were nice guys.) Of course, the moment they realized they were in love, everything worked out - they caught the killer, found the forgers, captured the robber (I liked romantic suspense a lot!)

The first book I wrote as an adult, then, tried to merge those two genres. A hero's journey, where the hero just happened to be female. She was called to adventure, battled the demons, and fell in love. But falling in love wasn't a solution for her, it was, in fact, an inconvenience. It caused more problems than it solved.

I didn't realize it at the time, but there was an entire wave of writers working on very similar stories. They are the new wave of Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance. They feature strong women who might fall in love, but who don't need a man to complete them. They feature that hero's journey formula, but they allow the woman to be the one who discovers she's the leader of the longlost race, that she's the princess in disguise, that she's the savior of the universe.

I still prefer stories that are all about the woman. I even like them in first person, or third person where we never get the love interest's point of view. Because one of the uncertainties in my life is wondering how other people see me. What they think. How they feel. And there's something reassuring about a strong, independent heroine who has those same concerns. (It's even more fun when *I* can see that the hero loves her, and I can yell at the book for her to stop being so ridiculous, of COURSE he loves her, and would she just figure it out already!?)

But for me, the books I write and read are all about the heroine. They're about her journey, her realizations, her growth, her power. And through her, those things are within reach of the reader, too.

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