By Jeanine Englert
I still remember when a person first asked me this years ago: “What’s your core story?” What? I remember blinking back at them full of the wild panic of knowing I had no idea what they meant and being painfully aware that I should know. I had a masters degree in writing. Why didn’t I know what a core story was?
It wasn’t until I listened to a 2017 Romance Writers of America workshop recording by Jayne Ann Krentz that I understood what a core story was. She explained how your core story was the same natural center or core you know by heart and write in each story without even really realizing it. It took me about seven manuscripts before I finally figured out my core story, that common thread that keeps being retold, in each book I write. It’s the thread that exists in the WIPs I’m writing even now. All of my stories revolve around themes of redemption and self-acceptance and that is my core story. Why? After some soul searching, I realized it’s because it is what I struggle with the most myself. And I always have. I just didn’t have a name for it.
Even now when I think of the books, movies, and television shows I’ve been most drawn to, many of the heroes and heroines fall into those core story buckets as well. Now that I’m working on books eight, nine, and ten (I have envy for those writers who can write just one book at a time), I’m still writing around that same core story. And with every book, I find myself learning more about how my characters and how they (and I) can continue to work on gaining self-acceptance and personal redemption.
If you haven’t realized your core story, I challenge you to do so. It’s a great way to know the story you could tell in any world you create. Discovering your core story feels like putting your bare toes in warm sand and wiggling them around. You feel safer, stronger, and more settled into the very words you write.
So, take a minute and look at your body of work? What core story do you create time and time again?
Jeanine Englert is a Golden Heart ® Finalist and Daphne du Maurier Award winner in historical romantic suspense. After years of writing in secret, she joined Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers in 2013 and has been an active member ever since. She writes Scottish Highland historicals and historical romantic suspense novels.
When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved pups, and of course mysteries with other readers on Twitter @JeanineWrites, Facebook, or at her website www.jeaninewrites.com.
Her debut novel, Lovely Digits, released in June of 2019 by Soul Mate Publishing, is a Victorian romantic suspense that won the 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award and was named a 2018 Golden Heart ® Finalist for best unpublished romantic suspense.