As readers, we gravitate to certain types of stories that speak to us. Maybe you gorge yourself on marriage of convenience stories, or bad boy redemption. The fantasy of vicariously living through the actions of the hero or heroine as they make decisions regarding situations we have experienced or dreamed of, makes us better prepared for our own day-to-day existence. Granted, we may never be in a position to help a grieving billionaire overcome his anguish at the death of a childhood friend killed by a mysterious serial killer that is secretly a demon come to fetch the billionaire back to an alternate realm where he is to rule over a fairy empire. But we may need to help a friend or family member who loses someone they love one day. The story resonates not because of the billionaire fairy but because grief is universal.
This connection between reader and story reminds me of the scholarly work I did in graduate school on the importance of fairy tales. Children love fairy tales and often ask for them to be read and reread by their parents. These stories are hundreds of years old and yet, they are still relevant to children bombarded with the internet, television, and cell phones. Because wolves still look for children whether or not they wander red-caped in a forest and lovers that look like beasts remain devoted to their beauties. Again, at their core the stories have something universal, something children seek out to soothe themselves.
But writing is a little different. Instead of looking for your core story, it will find you, worm its way into your prose without your conscious knowledge, pop up in your hero's journey before you even put ink to page. I didn't know my core story when I first started writing because it doesn't become evident until you have a few stories under your belt.
But now, I can't ignore it.
For some writers it might be a heroine that learns she's her own worst enemy. For another writer it's a hero that feels unworthy of love. And for someone else it is always a character on a journey of belonging and acceptance.
And what is my core story, you ask?
I started writing romance in part due to two things:
- A submission call for romantic short stories in a science fiction anthology and
- Listening to Kevin Allison at the end of his RISK! podcast every week tell me that "Today's the day--take a risk."