Discovering the Core

One piece of advice I’ve heard again and again from veteran writers is to know your core story. For new writers this can be a tall order…because you don’t know your core story as much as your core story finds you.

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.

The writer’s core story is what their heart desires.

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:

  1. A submission call for romantic short stories in a science fiction anthology and
  2. Listening to Kevin Allison at the end of his RISK! podcast every week tell me that “Today’s the day–take a risk.”

One of the hardest things I ever did was press that send button for the email that held my short story submission to the call.

A writer’s core story is what their heart desires.

TheKlockwerkKraken-onesheet
The Klockwerk Kraken Collection

My core story is always about a character stepping out of their comfort zone and trying something new, something crazy, something that may fail, something that’s dangerous, and will make them emotionally vulnerable.

I’ve given a hero the impossible task of convincing a new lover that they met in the future. I’ve had my protagonist sit down to conversation with a pretty woman even though a zombie is at the door. I’ve had a character make a bargain with a fairy and another refuse to change out of a vampire costume before interrogating witnesses. I’ve had a heroine leave her home planet to follow a princess to a war-torn world. And  I’ve had a broken man learn to love a bartender with tentacles.

All my stories involve characters stepping out of their comfort zone. Because that’s what I want to do and what I wish for my readers. Because once you’ve made that first step outside, whether you succeed or fail, you’re one step further on a journey.

So tell me–what’s your core story?


Check out The Klockwerk Kraken Collection: includes The Klockwerk Kraken, Spindrift Gifts, and a special Epilogue, now available

Publisher: Aidee Ladnier Books
Pages: 262
ISBN-10: 1533054665
ISBN-13: 978-1533054661
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

  

When the right space pilot walks into his bar, a desperate bartender uses all his wiles (and tentacles) to talk the man into business and his bed–but the spacer is still enslaved by his past and isn’t sure he can deal with a two-armed lover, much less one with six.

As the supply shipments stop coming, Teo Houdin needs all his tentacles to keep his waystation bar open. Facing a riot by thirsty miners stranded in the backwater of the galaxy, Teo helps a greenie space pilot buy a ship in return for a regular haul of liquor. But he longs for the courage to invite the enigmatic spacer to fill his lonely bed as well.

Still smarting from his newly implanted navigational ports, Jimenez knows owning his own ship will prevent him from ever being bought and sold again. For a former slave, transporting cargo through the emptiness of space sounds like paradise, but after meeting the compassionate and sexy Teo, his heart feels empty, too.

At the edge of the galaxy’s spiral arm, can Teo convince Jimenez that the heart has its own tentacles and theirs should be entwined forever?

 

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