How to Write a Perfect Romance Using the Hero’s Journey Structure

In an earlier post, I explored the steps of The Hero’s Journey or monomyth structure – the seminal narrative theory as defined by Joseph Campbell in his work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).

The idea of the Hero’s Journey was compiled studying folklore and legends and as such, we’ll most often see the Hero’s Journey applied to narratives in fantasy and other speculative fiction genres. But, how well does the Hero’s Journey apply to stories in non-speculative genres?

writing romance

As I explored in this post, mystery novels frequently use the monomyth structure. The narrative structure could also be applied to writing a romance plot.

How to Write a Romance Plot Structured with the Hero’s Journey

  • The heroine is in her normal situation, typically dateless, and is somehow introduced to the prospective romantic partner. It’s often an antagonistic meeting.
  • All sorts of reasons crop up as to why this new man would be a terrible match.
  • Her mentor or confidant, typically a girlfriend, gives her some guiding advice.
  • She takes steps to test the potential of this new beau and actively starts pursuing or being pursued. Perhaps this could be just thinking of their dates more seriously, with the potential for future involvement.
  • Now she’s fully enmeshed with this new suitor, too far gone to go back to life as it was before without some kind of emotional repercussion, but not far enough advanced to feel any kind of security in a relationship.
  • As this potential relationship advances, trials occur to test each partner’s suitability to one another.
  • A significant win in favour of the romance takes it to its deepest point so far.
  • The heroine might meet a temptation that threatens this new romance. Another man perhaps, or a reason not to get any further involved with the main guy.
  • The heroine is forced to question what she really wants, what is most important to her and what guiding force she needs to follow.
  • The new romance is accepted. Love is declared. Happiness.
  • Something threatens the new couple. A niggling doubt from either of them, an external complication. Perhaps the heroine starts to wonder if she’s made the right choice.
  • Some guidance makes her realise that everything is good and that the new romance is worth settling in with.
  • The couple settle down together, living happily ever after and all the stronger for the trials their relationship faced in its beginnings.
The Hero's Journey can apply to most genres. Here it fits the model of a typical romance plot.Click To Tweet

This might be a plot outline of any number of romance novels or movies and it’s a direct transcription of the Campbellian Hero’s Journey. And there’s not a sword or sorcerer in sight.

Read more about The Hero’s Journey

For a detailed analysis of the Hero’s Journey, check out The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.

Are you a romance writer? How do you see this structure working in the romance genre? Are there exceptions? Are there any other genres where the hero’s journey might be as easily applied?

Kate Krake
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Kate Krake

Kate Krake writes speculative fiction and non-fiction. She is the author of the urban fantasy series Guessing Tales. Kate blogs about popular culture, health, wellness and creative writing. She lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband, daughter and two beagles. Find out more on www.katekrake.com.
Kate Krake
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