The ClassicAndCozy blogging group is made up of writers who were all published by Avalon Books, well-known as a publisher of clean and sweet mystery, romance, westerns, primarily for libraries. Now, that option has expanded but the premise, for most of us, has stuck.
My particular genres are romance and women’s fiction. I like a happy ending. I like building a world where things work out for the best, no matter what traumatic events my characters have to face. Whether it’s infertility, child custody battles, professional jealousy, office bullying, ethnic prejudice (Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls), or divorce and lost love (Wait a Lonely Lifetime), abandonment, the death of a parent, losing a job (Nights Before) or seeking a home, war, oppression (as in my historical novels), my characters triumph.
And that is not always a simple task, even for the writer of the story. There is no guarantee that characters behave as you expect, nor that their difficulties have a believable solution. The objective is verisimilitude or, at least, plausibility. The exceptions are Fantasy and SciFi but, even then, there are rules and conventions.
As a reader, I want to be included, drawn in and given an opportunity to learn something new, experience a new world. As a writer, making that possible for readers is hard work, especially if we want it to look easy.
I once heard a writer describe himself as “a difficult poet,” taking pride that his work is obscure, intentionally beyond the comprehension of the reader. To me, that reeks of arrogance and a wish to appear superior. A former colleague told me she did not trust the audiences of her dance performances to understand so she explained everything—talking down to them. What is the point of either position?
We all have a story to tell, our story, important to us. The impulse to tell our stories is part of our primordial DNA, from the first recognition of a common language, from the first fireside chat, our species has told stories and every one of them has been told and retold in a thousand different guises over the millennia of human history. And yet, we still tell our stories, whether they are about our own experience or based on the seven plots of humankind, or twenty or thirty-six depending on who has written the analysis!
Here are the seven basic stories: 1) human versus nature; 2) human versus human; 3) human versus environment/society; 4) human versus machine/technology; 5) human versus supernatural; 6) human versus self; 7) human versus god/religion.
We love these stories because they are about us. We all face these conflicts: ask my husband about #4!
Vladimir Propp defined thirty-one functions of a hero’s journey beginning with ABSENTATION: A member of a family leaves the security of the home environment and ending with WEDDING: Hero marries and ascends the throne (is rewarded/promoted).
Where is your story in the scheme of human storytelling? What do you expect from a writer when you enter the world of their story?
This is the 100th blog post for Classic & Cozy. Happy Centennial Blog!