Nostalgia and Violence
I'm struggling with the rewrites and back in the day before I'd finished any of my novels the best way to get me excited about writing was to read through some of my older writing. I have literally hundreds of little scenes and story starters. So I thought I would have a look at them. I haven't read any of them in years. I keep them because I know if I ever run out of stories there are more just waiting to be developed.
First thing I noticed was how much better my writing has come in even the four or five years since I wrote or even looked at these scenes. The second thing I noticed was how clearly I set my heart for anyone to read. You see every single one of my story starters or scenes revolves around a guy meeting a girl. It is instant that they know they are meant for each other. Often it is divinely decreed or some kind of soul mate. Other stories revolve around a matchmaker of some kind.
I'm turning 39 this year and still no knight in shining armour though if these stories are any indication I'd pretty much settle for any guy who can make up his mind and be kind.
Thirdly, I realised that a lot of my stories revolve around women getting hurt. I don't like what that says about my reading habits as back when I wrote these stories they were mostly based around things I had been reading or seeing on TV.
So if you ever want to go down a rabbit hole I suggest looking up rape as a plot device. There are a lot of articles out there. They have even launched an award for thrillers that don't have violence against woman as a plot device.
The psychology behind why female writers still write books where women are victims of violence is a little sick and twisted. We can all admit that romance is often a reflection of woman's fantasies. But if that is true where do books like Fifty Shades of Grey come from. Just to be clear I don't think that book represents the BDSM community very well. But the drive behind Fifty Shades and other books like it is the same thing that drives the Alpha books. - A man is so driven by his desire for a woman that he will lose his self control. Same reason why the reverse Harem is popular. It doesn't mean women really want men to be Alpha jerks, rape them or to have five men at her beck and call. No, it means a woman wants to feel desired - feel loved beyond all doubt.
I know this now. I didn't know that when I wrote many of my stories. These I started when I was still in high school FYI. They span decades. They were my learning and they are raw. And they leave me raw as they show how much I want that dream of a husband and 2.5 kids. I still have that in my stories now. I've changed things a bit. It all changed when I read After Dark. I had signed up for an ARC reading platform. I can't remember which one. I'd never come across Jayne Castle or any of her other pen names. If you read her books chronologically you see she came to a similar decision as I did. She started her career with the Alpha male character. This was her first real foray into a new genre. The main male character in this book was not the reluctant one with commitment issues. Yes, he is a strong male character but he isn't a jerk. This is impressive as he starts off as her enemy - even though she doesn't know it. I just really loved the idea of a guy that was genuinely nice and who knew before the woman that he wanted to be in a long term relationship. I'd never read anything like that before.
There are other books out there with nice guys who are the ones wanting to have the relationship work and have to convince the woman. I've even read some of them before I read After Dark. I was just in the right time and state of mind for a light bulb to go off. From then on my stories change quite a bit. Certainly the main love interest did. I still have a tendancy to have my female characters kidnapped but I am aware I have a problem and try to avoid it.