Every writer tries to be original in her writing – otherwise, what interest is there for the writer and the reader? But some writing experts believe that it is not possible to be original when it comes to the fundamentals of the story – the bare bones, if you like.
As well as reading fiction, I love to read non-fiction – and especially material that relates to writing, such as dictionaries and writing guides. Most recently I’ve been reading about the seven basic stories which writing experts believe are the basis for all stories that exist. They are:
1. The hero is destroyed by a fatal flaw – think Hamlet.
2. The hero triumphs through virtue or standing firm – think Bridget Jones.
3. A relationship is threatened because not everyone can have what they want – think Twilight.
4. Two people fall in love, but something gets in the way of their happy ending – think Romeo and Juliet.
5. The hero goes on a quest to get or to deliver something valuable – think Lord of the Rings.
6. The hero is haunted by a secret from the past – think Rebecca.
7. The hero goes through a difficult time but wins out over the bad guys – think Robin Hood.
And overarching all these stories is the idea of journey – of a start, a middle and an end. The journey may be physical, emotional or mental, and usually by the end of a book the character has developed.
Most stories encompass more than one of these core stories, and I think Burning Embers does. In fact, I’d like to think it pulls in all but one of the stories:
1. The hero is destroyed by a fatal flaw – almost; Rafe’s pride and his fear in facing up to his past.
2. The hero triumphs through virtue or standing firm – Coral is constant, prepared to have faith.
3. A relationship is threatened because not everyone can have what they want – Coral wants Rafe, but he seems to have another woman; Rafe wants Coral, but he’s frightened to allow himself to love her.
4. Two people fall in love, but events get in the way of their happy ending – well, nearly! If Coral hadn’t gone to Rafe in the end, it might have been a very different ending…
6. The hero is haunted by a secret from the past – Rafe is burdened by a secret that keeps him from being with Coral
7. The hero goes through a difficult time but wins out over the bad guys – Coral wins out against her competitors, Cybil and Morgana; Rafe despatches Coral’s other suitor, Dale.
And through the book, both characters go on a journey – of trusting, of being honest, of growing up, of reaching out, of opening the heart to true and lasting love.
I think, perhaps, when it comes to romance writing, we are happy to accept that each story draws upon a familiar basis. Because romance stories tell the oldest story in the world: man meets woman; man and woman fall in love. The end, and a new beginning.