First I’d like to say “thank you” to everyone who has contacted me through various online outlets in support of this project.
For those of you familiar with the Six Stage Plot Structure, you might wonder why I chose to focus on the Identity and Essence of the Hero first. A recent, and extremely humorous, brush with my own Identity prompted this exploration of the Six Stage Plot Structure. Over the course of this project, I will look at the Hero’s Outer Journey as well as the Hero’s Inner Journey. Because I am a very character driven writer, from my perspective both Journeys are driven from the hero’s struggle to move away from his Identity, or false self, in order to live in his Essence, or truth, and thus lead a fulfilling life.
Keep in mind the following: Identity = False Self / Essence = Truth
A hero’s identity is derived from a wound, or an unhealed source of pain from the past, often something experienced during adolescence. From this wound, we form beliefs on how the world works. Beliefs that grow from wounds are never accurate, but they are always logical to the hero. In The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, when Katniss’ father unexpectedly dies, her mother retreats into her own grief leaving Katniss with the enormous responsibility of keeping her family from starving to death. From here, Katniss forms the belief that if she grows to care for anyone, she will then become responsible for their survival. At the beginning of her journey we see an emotionally isolated hero only capable of caring for her sister, and unable to accept kindness from anyone for fear that she will grow to care for them, and in turn, become responsible for them.
What is a Hero’s Identity?
Keep in mind that we are talking about the journey from living in fear to living in courage. A hero’s Identity is the emotional armor worn to protect the hero from getting hurt. In Katniss’ world safety = emotional isolation. The armor she wears is the false belief that if she does not get close to others, she will survive. It is only when she allows herself to care for others that she starts to live fully in her courage, or her essence. Thistranslates to her success and survival.
In my current Young Adult Novel, Forbidden Signs, my hero, Terra, is continually placed in leadership roles that she does not want. In addition, she has done nothing to actively achieve these positions. With each honor, she loses whom or what she loves the most. As a result, Terra believes that by refusing the role of leader her world, that she thinks is safe, will not change. Only when she embraces the natural leader within will she find fulfillment and reach her goal in the story.
Because we are not fictional characters, we might have more than one wound or identity. My wounds from grade school and high school formed my Identity, which is a lack of self-worth or confidence. Because of this lack of self-confidence, I have shielded myself from exposure. If I didn’t take chances in life, I couldn’t fail. As a writer, I wrote for years in secret, cloaked in my identity, wrapped in self-doubt. Even after I joined writing groups and began to pursue my dream in earnest, I kept this part of my life a secret from anyone outside my immediate sphere. The very first question people ask once you expose yourself as a writer is “what have you published?” While we are not fictional characters, we are all on a journey, regardless of our end goal. The fact that I am currently unpublished does not chage the fact that I am a writer. My goals for my life as a mother and wife differ from those of my life as a writer. Obviously the visible goal of my Outer Writer’s Journey (more on that next week!) is publication, preferably a multi-book deal with an option for a film. If you’re going to dream, dream big!
In writing about my journey, this is me taking a step towards living in my courage, or my essence, as a writer.
Great blog post! This is so true about living in courage, rather than fear. Whether its real people or fictional characters, everyone has a wound that they grow from. I love your example from the Hunger Games. Looking forward to reading about the Outer Writer’s Journey! 🙂
Thanks Chris! Some days taking those steps towards our essence is harder than others. Those wounds constantly get in the way! Katniss really resonated with me. Her Hero’s Journey follows a very clear path. I’m hoping to use a variety of examples going forward, but we probably haven’t seen the last of her in this blog.
Like you, RoseAnn, for years I wrote for the most part in secret. Not only was I free to let myself fail, I didn’t have to be accountable to anyone else. I didn’t have to feel that sense of embarrassment if people asked me how it was going or if I’d “finished” or “sold” yet…As it turns out, the support of people around you who are excited about your journey is invaluable. And I definitely am more motivated given that these days there’s so many people checking in on my agented book!
Two of my favorite heroine’s: Katniss and your Terra! : )
Isn’t it interesting how something that used to be a solitary endeavor turned into almost a group sport as we support one another on this journey? Such a great benefit for taking the risk and stepping towards the essence! I also realize now that when people ask about your progress, that is support. When we are wrapped up in our identities it is hard to see. BTW…you made my day with putting Katniss and Terra in the same sentence! I never would have read The Hunger Games without your nudge! So, thank you!
I’m glad you’re taking the steps needed to live in your essence as a writer. Congrats! However, I do think you have forgotten the courage it took for you to live in NYC and pursue your theatre dreams. Do you remember touring with a show in the USA and in Europe? You were a very young lady living alone in a big city and in the world. Your beauty and self confidence continue to grow as you have matured and realize what your momma always did. You are beautiful and very talented and this world and Terra’s world are fortunate to have you.
Mama! One of the side effects of living in identity is the inability to see who and what you are clearly. You have always been the best record keeper of my life. As my umber one fan, you and dad were always front and center. I could always see the pride reflected in your eyes even if I wasn’t capable of feeling that pride in my own soul. In fiction we often see the potential of our hero’s through the eyes of the secondary characters. Apparently this is true in life as well!
Yes, I will always be a secondary character in your life. Love you
Great post, RoseAnn! I also wrote in secret for years, and it took my husband’s prodding to finally get me out of the closet. (Never a sentence I thought I’d write. 🙂 ) But, as we’ve learned, you never get anywhere in life without risk. Here’s to achieving your dreams!!
Love it! My husband gave me my first memebership to RWA and NJRW for mother’s day. It’s nice to have that support, right?
Pingback: Stage I: The Everyday Life of Peter Parker | R.A. DeFranco – Young Adult Fantasy Author
Pingback: A Glimpse of Essence: Stage II – A New Situation | R.A. DeFranco Author – Young Adult Fantasy & Romance
This is great.
As a therapist that works a lot with false beliefs, I also see another one that Katniss labors under. It is the belief that she needs to do all the work herself; if she relies on others, they will let her down. This causes her to greatly doubt the motives of everyone around her…especially those who claim to want to help her.
Pingback: Turning Point #2: A Change of Plans | R.A. DeFranco Author – Young Adult Fantasy & Contemporary Romance
Pingback: Stage III: Stumbling in Progress | R.A. DeFranco Author – Young Adult Fantasy & Contemporary Romance
Pingback: The Final Stages of This Writer’s Journey: The Marketing Plan, The Release, and Embracing the Future | RoseAnn DeFranco – Where Laughter, Passion and Love Bloom
Pingback: Writing Process Breakthrough and a Contest Finalist | RoseAnn DeFranco – Where Laughter, Passion and Love Bloom