Like Jilly, I have been spending time judging contest entries lately. Unlike Jilly, some of mine have been pretty good. One, in particular, interested me because the story paralleled the romances of three different couples, which is what I’m trying to do with my third demon book, The Demon Wore Stilettos.
I was especially interested because every time I tell other authors what I’m working on, they say, “That’s way too complicated. You need to get rid of some of that.”
And it may come to that, but I really want to keep all three stories, so I was happy to see someone else had tried the same thing with, I thought, some success. Her stories were all set in the same small town and used the marriage-of-convenience trope for all three.
Mine are all set in Minneapolis-St. Paul and all revolve around the second-chance-at-love trope.
Where I thought the contest entry could have been stronger was in cohesion. The stories run along side-by-side like train tracks, never crossing, never even approaching each other. In mine, the three couples are, respectively, demons, humans and angels. All three couples have had past romantic encounters and all are now, for various reasons, no longer in those relationships.
What makes my story a little tighter, I think, is that the reason each couple has been thrown back together is in pursuit of a common goal,. As the story opens, there are thirty days left until the contract that my heroine signed with Satan comes due and she heads off to spend the rest of eternity in Hell. Although the demons want a very different outcome than the humans and their guardian angels, all three couples are focused on the endpoint of this contract.
Despite the very reasonable feedback I’ve been getting from my author friends, I persist in thinking that, with parallel tropes, a common setting and an intertwined goal, I can make this story of three romances hang together.
If you love the focus and simplicity of category romance, this story probably won’t be for you. But if you like twists and turns and an unpredictable outcome, then maybe, just maybe, if I manage to pull this off, it will be.
So what’s your particular poison? Do you like simple, focused, deeply intimate stories? Or do you prefer stories that stretch the boundaries?