Kim Hudson has developed a story structure that is an alternative to the Hero’s journey in her book, The Virgin’s Promise: Writing Stories of Feminine Creative, Spiritual and Sexual Awakening. In the interior world of a character there are two drives: one away from fear (the Hero) and the other towards pleasure (the Virgin). These internal drives are universal to all humans and unfold as two very different structures.
The internal drive of the Virgin is to know her intrinsic worth and follow her passion separate from what other people think she should do with her life. She is drawn to go on this journey by some talent or dream that lies dormant within her and longs to come to life. Her desire to dance, sing, paint, love, box, or express her opinion in her unique way calls her to go on her journey.
The Hero’s internal need is to push back the boundaries of his mortality, the boundaries created by fear. When he is righting a wrong, finding the treasure that will ensure the future well-being of his clan, or finding evil and destroying it before it reaches the village, the protagonist is conquering fear by facing it head on. His is a quest to know how rugged, strong, and brave he can be in the face of his fear.
There are several important differences between the internal drive of the Virgin and the Hero. Virgins are about self-fulfillment while heroes are about self-sacrifice; Virgins are about personal freedom while heroes work for the good of the group; Virgins go on their journeys because they want to (most people don’t want them to change) while heroes go on their journey because they have to (or people will be devastated); Virgins are compelled by the joy of following their dreams while heroes face greater and greater conflict which teaches them what they are made of; Virgins often love their antagonist and he or she transforms in order to make a place for the Virgin. Heroes pretty much wipe out their opposition – it’s pure evil.
Most of what you know about story structure applies best to the Hero’s journey. If you have a story to tell that never seems to fit the usual structure, you may be writing a Virgin story. Movies such as The Help, The King’s Speech, An Education, Fight Club, Brokeback Mountain, and Pretty Woman all center on a protagonist who longs to be authentic and finds a way to bring his or her unique way of being in the world to life.