Thursday, July 25, 2013

What's Your Core Story?

Over the years, as I've talked about writing and the writing process with both readers and writers, one thing that keeps coming up is the idea of a "core story." This core story is an idea or a theme that recurs in an author's books, or for a reader it's that theme you look for when you pick up a book.

Sometimes in romance, these can play out in the form of common tropes. There's the older brother's best friend sort of story, the reunited lovers story, the reformed bad boy story, the marriage of convenience story...the list can go on and on. These tropes call to us, speaking on a different level.

Whether we understand the reasons why a core story is the one we're drawn to, the fact of the matter is that most of us are far more likely to pick up a book that we know will follow the pattern we seek than one which plays on an entirely different trope. As writers, we might find ourselves stuck if the story we're trying to write doesn't conform to the core theme that is calling to us.

That said, sometimes it's difficult to put your finger on just what, precisely, your core story is. I know I've found that to be the case as an author. I've written six novels, four novellas, a number of short stories...and until a random moment a few days ago, I couldn't have told you what primary theme I am drawn to.

I could tell you that I'm drawn to unlikable characters, those who lash out at the world because they don't know how to deal with what's happened to them in life.

I could tell you that I like humor and sarcasm, and that I love seeing good things happen to people who've been through the wringer.

I could tell you that I like to explore the darker aspects of life and how people react to them.

And I could tell you why I'm drawn to those things, but these blogs aren't supposed to be too long, and ain't nobody got time for all that.

It never came together for me until I was sitting on a panel at Barnes and Noble last weekend, talking about my books and my characters, that the core story which draws all of those things together is one of redemption.

But the longer I thought about it, the more I realized it goes deeper than that for me. You see, there's a part of me that is hoping--really, truly wanting to believe--that someone can live through awful things, come out on the other side, and still find a happily ever after. I write those stories in order to prove to myself it's possible.

Do you know what the core story you're most drawn to is, whether as a reader or as a writer? And if you know what it is, do you know why that's the story for you?

**Originally published at Lady Scribes**

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