The Heart of the Story

Yesterday, I finished one of the three projects I’ve been working on for NaNoWriMo. This is the fifth book in an urban fantasy series I’m writing as E.G. Stone, and I’m very pleased to b done with it! This means that I can now focus more on The Head-Heart Debate, and sink my teeth into the romance between Andromeda and Dax.

But I have a confession.

I’ve been stuck on THHD, not really knowing where the story will go and what to do with these characters. I’ve about 12k words, and while I do love the beginning, and the characters, I just…got stuck. I was even wondering, for a while, whether I was even able to write romance right now.

Not a great place to be, mentally speaking.

Yesterday, though, I had an epiphany. It was the sort of epiphany that comes from a conversation about being frustrated by stereotypes and how they are portrayed in romance novels. I then got into a discussion of how a goodly number of romance novels function, and how I want to write my own pieces. And it came to me.

The reason I’ve been stuck is that there wasn’t a story.

No, not a love story. Of course my characters are meant to meet and fall in love. That’s the whole basis of a romance novel. I’m talking about the story¬†beyond the love story. The reason my characters exist. The journey that they take. The thing that makes them real, to my mind, and no tjust figures whose whole point is to fall in love with someone else.

I am all about the story beyond the romance. In fact, part of the reason why I love romance novels so much is because they’re about more than just the romance. They’re about self-discovery, or exploration, or coming to terms with the past, or any number of things that are simply incidental (though intertwined) with the love story. Romance novels are about¬†life and I love them for it. (Okay, okay, I also enjoy the love story a lot.)

My problem with The Head-Heart Debate was, despite all the work I put in to shaping my characters, there was no larger story. They were litterally on the page and just meant to fall in love. It wasn’t working for me because that’s not how I write. I like to write life. Yes, the scenarios may be a little ridiculous. But there’s life there, nonetheless. The Houndskeeper involved people moving on from past loves. The Wooden Rose had people recovering from feelings of uselessness, of guilt for past trauma. You know. Life.

The Head-Heart Debate just didn’t have that.

But, after a good sleep where my cat did her best to sleep on my face, and some brain-food breakfast, I came up with the solution. THHD needs a story, and I know what it is.

It’s going to be about relearning how to have fun, how to trust people and just enjoy life instead of worrying about up and down, right and wrong, facts and lies, worrying that people are always hiding something. This story is going to be about fun, amidst the doubt, enjoyment between the worry, and regaining the confidence to smile.

You know. Life.