In most films or stories it seems pretty easy to identify the hero, understand his clearly defined goal from the beginning and watch him battle against the odds in order to achieve success. Brave, strong and resourceful, the hero recognizes that his community is in danger and pushes beyond his fear to destroy the impending doom and save everyone. This is the archetypal story structure that Joseph Campbell calls the ‘hero’s journey,’ the pattern that supposedly all stories follow. From the epic struggles of the protagonists in large scale superhero movies to smaller and less dramatic stories, it certainly seems that this masculine journey of the hero dominates the narratives in the films we watch.
But what if there was another storytelling archetype, one that offered a more feminine perspective? Enter Kim Hudson and her book ‘The Virgin’s Promise.’
Told that feminine journeys were passive, internal and didn’t make good movies, Kim set out to prove otherwise and uncovered a different story structure, the virgin’s journey. The polar opposite of the hero’s very physical and external journey, the virgin’s journey is rooted in the idea that to be virgin is to be of intrinsic and internal worth.
Expected to be a certain way by her community and others around her, the virgin’s story begins with her undervaluing and hiding her true self so that she can conform. In order to find happiness and success, however, she must look inside herself and begin a journey of self-discovery that allows her to realise that she can bring her hopes and dreams to life no matter what others around her think. Very much about the inner drive, the virgin must grow, develop and recognize that making herself smaller in order to fit in with others’ expectations is bad for her. Taking place in a world driven by love, the virgin must embrace the good things around her and let them into her life. Whilst this causes her community upset and upheaval as they struggle to accommodate the newly realised virgin, she ultimately encourages them to also grow and expand their horizons. Whilst the hero fights off external forces to make his world a better place, the virgin nurtures her internal forces and, as a result, improves her physical world.
As Kim neatly puts it- while the hero is learning to do, the virgin is learning to be.
The more you think about it, the more you can recognize this kind of structure in popular stories and movies (Disney’s ‘Frozen,’ anyone?). But, despite being described as a more feminine journey compared to the masculine hero’s, the virgin’s journey isn’t only limited to female characters. Explaining why she chose to dub it the ‘virgin’s’ promise instead of other choices like ‘princess’ and ‘maiden,’ Kim stresses that she wanted this archetype to be accessible to both men and women. Kim’s virgin has to realize that they are of worth just the way they are, whether they’re male or female.
We can see this in the way that Kim includes a variety of examples of virgin characters from all different types of films-even ‘Rocky’ and ‘Fight Club’ demonstrate virgin journeys! My favourite example is Kim’s use of ‘About a Boy,’ in which Hugh Grant’s character Will embarks on his own virgin journey of self-discovery that’s encouraged by his new friend Marcus. Looking inside and realising that he must be truer to himself, Will comes to realise that he isn’t Ibiza and that Bon Jovi was right when he said “no man is an island.”
Interesting, huh? Well, lucky for you (and us!), Kim Hudson is making her European debut and bringing her ground breaking workshops to London on the 6th, 8th and 9th November 2014.
A unique opportunity to learn about ‘The Virgin’s Promise’ from the author herself, Kim’s evening and weekend masterclass will open your eyes to interesting character dynamics and shed light on a whole new approach to storytelling.
Don’t miss out and book your place onto Kim’s weekend workshop ‘Screenwriting From A Feminine Perspective’.
Can’t make the class? Get Kim’s excellent book here: The Virgin’s Promise: Writing Stories of Feminine Creative, Spiritual, and Sexual Awakening