Tuesday, June 7, 2011

In Search of Core Story

In Search of Core Story

By LoRee Peery

RWA members may be used to hearing a quote from Jayne Ann Krentz (who also writes as Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle). “Identify your core story—every author has one. Once you know it, you will be better prepared to figure out where it fits in the marketplace.”

Jayne has spoken numerous times on how she had to reinvent herself. While going through that process, she realized her core story is romantic suspense.

Julie Rowe has written about core story. Carolyn Greene has referred to it in her Plot Doctor presentation. Author friends of mine have responded with self-acceptance, taking chances, and finding inner/unknown strength as their core stories.

According to Webster, core is a noun, the central or inner part of anything. So what is core story? To some, it may be the guts of a story.

After listening to Jayne a few years back, I asked myself some questions:

  • What is my core story?
  • What makes it different?
  • What conflicts am I comfortable with?
  • Why is it selling? [or not]
  • What emotion is evoked in the first three chapters?
“Core story reveals my voice, so make it fresh and different, something missing turned to joy,” I noted, based on Jayne’s session during the PRO conference at RWA national.

How can a writer wrap up uniqueness, comfortable conflict (sounds like an oxymoron to me), emotion, all encapsulated within voice?

I have mulled over the idea of core story. At one time I wondered if it’s as simple as genre or theme. But the idea of discovering core story niggled at me. It has to be more than inspirational romance.

Readers, and authors, may agree that a writer pretty much writes the same story over and over. Does that mean core story is intrinsic?

My core story is wrapped up within the spiritual journey of my romance characters. I also try to write using Nebraska’s sense of place. Okay, to me a Christian story means a tale of redemptive grace, which covers a multitude of sins. From that contemplation, I came up with my signature tag: Redemptive grace with a sense of place.

During this search, I concluded that my core story is redemptive grace. What’s yours?

 copyright 2011 LoRee Peery
Moselle's Insurance ~ Rainn on My Parade

Note:  an earlier version of this article appeared in “E-Notes from the Prairie,” Prairieland Romance Writers newsletter, winter 2009.


  1. Loved the interview. To get to my core story, I pray and ask the Lord to give me a theme. I love themes.
    Diane Carter
    Boise Idaho

  2. Oh, Diane. Prayer is key. Thanks for pointing that out. Our writing has to be Spirit led, how else can the Lord work through writer and reader.

    I once thought core story and theme were synonymous.

  3. Never thought of my tag ~ Heart racing, God-gracing romance ~ as a core story before, but I like that term. I chose "Heart racing, God-gracing Romance" because I want every word I write to honor and please God, whether as a romance or romantic suspense.

    Wow. Great article, LoRee. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi, LoRee! All my stories revolve around one thing: faith affirmation. That's why I've opted to 'tag' my stories--be they romance or mainstream Christian offerings--as 'faith-affirming fiction.' :-) What a great post!! God bless!

  5. I like what that writer wrote in "heart racing" that is so true in romance. I think.
    Betty f.

  6. Dora, you're right. Our tags are tied in with core story. My mind just went from one to the other.

    Marianne, don't you love to play with words? It's so much fun to put them together.

    Betty, thanks for reaffirming that romance is heart racing. So is suspense. So is writing. So is living for the Lord.

  7. Creating a tagline has been at the forefront of my mind lately. I love how you've given a "formula" to help come up with an appropriate tagline for a writer. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Angie Dicken

  8. Angie, best wishes on this journey. You'll come up with just what you re meant to.