When I started to write my novel, The Tome of Worlds, I had no idea where the story would go.
You see, years ago I wrote an opening to the novel where a Jaunter (a person who can travel from one place to another instantaneously–see The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester) has come to the faun village of Biggleswade to investigate the disappearance of their statue, The Lady, who had been sent to guard their village after the fall of Panthea of Old, also known as The Four Mountains, the faun home created by Pan.
So much has changed since I wrote that opening scene.
Now Aedinn Finn wakes up in a room in a tower not knowing who he is or from where he came, but soon he is drawn into the mystery of why the disease that befell the fauns long ago and drove them out of their ancient homeland has returned.
I let Aedinn Finn find his way out of that room, and what happened from there on was a story that grew all on its own.
From that beginning somehow a love story developed. I won’t name the names or tell too much about the circumstances, but the love story spans time and multiple dimensions, or as I call them, tapestries. The love story is not the focus of the novel, but Aedinn Finn’s love is what drives him to figure out his place in The Nyre Lands.
Long ago, before my accident, I wrote a short story called The Prometheus Decision. The story is about a teen-aged boy who lives in a near future where a conscious artificial intelligence tells you what you should do with your life based on what’s best for the human race. The AI has the common good in mind, so every decision it makes is based on the need for the human race to survive and excel. When teenagers reach a certain age they make a symbolic trip to the Prometheus and ask what they should do with their life. The story was inspired, I think, by the classic science fiction movie Colossus: The Forbin Project.
I thought The Prometheus Decision had a good premise. I knew where I wanted to go with the story, but as with The Tome of Worlds, the story took on a life of its own.
Hector, the main character, had a love named Julia. For the story I knew it was important to convey how Hector felt about Julia. To that end I read a short story collection called Nothing But You: Love Stories from The New Yorker. I studied how masters of literature wrote about love.
My takeaway from reading all of those short stories was the advice every writer receives. Show. Don’t tell.
I wrote and rewrote the scenes with Julia until I was exhausted and didn’t want to look at the writing anymore. To this day I feel that those scenes are some of the best I’ve ever written. But here’s the thing. The focus of The Prometheus decision was supposed to be about the society where an artificial intelligence answers the question most of us have at some point in our life, “What am I supposed to do with my life?”
Instead, the story turned into a love story focused on how Prometheus’ decision affects Hector and Julia.
How did that happen?
I wrote the story at a time when I was wondering what I should do with my life, but I guess I also had love on the brain. Or maybe Hector did. Who knows what I was thinking 14 years ago? I sure don’t. I don’t even remember what I had for dinner a week ago.
Maybe I didn’t have love on the brain. Maybe love simply finds its way into stories that move us? Even if the love story isn’t the focus of the novel or story you are reading you see love in virtually every story, The Dark Tower series. The Forever War. Even in YA books you see hints of love to come. Harry Potter. The False Prince. The Book of Three.
Do stories have to have love in order for the story to move us?