What kind of journeys do your characters make? What effects do they have on the characters and the plot? Also, if you wish, please tell us about one of your personal journeys and how it changed you.
When I get an idea for a story, I generally begin with the characters and what their stories are. 99% of the time, when I sit down to write, I know two things: Where my story begins and where it ends. That includes physically and emotionally. Then I sit down and try to plot out the actual journey and my character's journey.
For instance, one of the first books I wrote (which ended up in a drawer thankfully) has a character whose twin brother is kidnapped by a carnival. He believes he has to travel through a mirror maze and into another world to save him. By the end of the story, he's taken both of those journeys. The physical one has led him all across a fantastical land filled with danger. His emotional journey brought him to accept that his brother is never coming back. By the end of the story, my character ended up in exactly the same place he was at the beginning of the story. He was in his town missing his brother. But emotionally he'd come to accept his brother's death and move on.
Not all of my journeys are so circular, but they all involve my MC coming to accept and embrace the circumstances that life has given.
The personal journey that really taught me that was the time I went to Italy. I'd been given a vacation on short notice and tried to gather some friends and family to go, but couldn't. I wanted to go to Europe but I didn't want to go alone. I nearly didn't take the trip, but in the end I decided to do it. I spent two weeks in a foreign country with zero knowledge of the language or culture. It was the most amazing experience of my life. Not only did I learn how capable I was, but I learned to embrace the unknown. I'd go into restaurants in Rome and just tell them to bring me whatever they enjoyed eating the most. Rarely did I actually know what I was eating, but that made it so much better.
Anyway, this post is feeling a bit fractured and rambly. So to sum it up I'll simply say that I like to send my characters on journeys that help them discover the truth within themselves. Everyone's strong, everyone's a hero, they just need to be given the chance to be those things.