My first one and a half novels were love stories. The plots were rather convoluted, and they strayed from the acceptable norm of romantic novels in lots of ways, but basically, they followed the traditional rules of romantic fiction. Even though the storylines featured fraud, death and dishonesty the stories were, at their hearts, romances.
The new novel, however, features much unpleasantness and a lot of humour, but I’m struggling to identify the romantic thread. With this in mind, I revisited the accumulated advice on writing romantic fiction to decide, once and for all, if what I was writing could be considered a romance.
Choose a well-known hero or heroine – doesn’t matter what sphere they inhabit. They could be literary, cinematic, artistic, philosophical, historical; fact or fiction, living or dead. Maybe they’re a favourite fictional character, or a hated politician. They might be the same sex as you; they might not.
List their attributes – these traits can be positive or negative.
Now think yourself into the character and build a story, from the point of view of this real or imaginary person. Mould this 2-dimensional cut out into a real person. What motivates them? What do they like? What do they fear?
I was on local radio yesterday evening, reading one of my stories and it occurred to me that the majority of the short stories I’ve written have happy endings and are mostly about quite pleasant people who come into contact with something or someone horrible. But I actually find it much easier to write about villains – malevolent people in horrible situations. Maybe it’s an unconscious urge to pit myself against the horrors of life and see who comes up smiling, or maybe it’s art reflecting reality. I can think myself into a villain’s mind without a problem – but does that say more about me than my creative ability?
Yesterday’s offering features one nasty piece of work, but it’s mainly a feel-good story. It’s called ‘Charity Ball’ and you’ll find it under the Short Stories tab.