Hello. Jennifer Johnson here. I'm author to Holding Out for a Hero, and that picture is my feet on a hammock in a very restful place far away from my home.
Some of the greatest stories I know of are tales of discovery. Commonly known as the journey motif, these stories allow us to go with the main character to discover new and amazing places. On the journey, the protagonist makes discoveries about herself as well and grows into a better, stronger, and self-assured person or hobbit or (fill in species or life form here).
You know these stories. They are woven into the fabric of our culture. At least, I'd like to think they are. I'm probably showing my age here, but I'm afraid the under twenty crowd are culturally deprived. I was talking to someone who teaches at a college. Curious, he asked his students to raise their hands if they knew what, say, the Mona Lisa was. If I remember correctly, two thought they had heard of her. Another friend shared with me a story she had read from a high school student who wrote that the Sistine Chapel had been viewed in a museum. Let us take a moment here to shake our collective heads and say in our best old geezer voices, "What's the world coming to?" then I shall jump off this tangent.
Some great journey motif stories are Lord of the Rings, Narnia Chronicles (yes, the journey can even begin in one's closet or, if I remember from the first book, crawling through the neighbor's attic), Wizard of Oz, The Incredible Journey (one of my favorite kid books), Canterbury Tales, Heart of Darkness, The Iliad and the Odyssey.
I've noticed in my own stories there is often a journey taken which is significant in the relationship of the hero and heroine. Is this because I've been so influenced by the books mentioned above? Probably. Could it be that I see the metaphor of the physical journey in the internal growth of my characters? Perhaps. Or maybe it has to do with this quote by Caroline Gordon:
A well composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way