By K D Grace
Like most writers, I spend a lot of time analysing what
makes a story work. Why does one story grip me when another doesn’t? Why do the
characters in one tale make me want to curl myself around them and never let
them go while others feel more like they’re only people waiting at the bus stop
with me, people who barely register in my mind.
How much of what makes a story work is plot and how much is character?
Sometimes nothing happens in a story, and I’m enthralled. At other times
everything happens in a story, and I don’t care. Am I just picky? I wonder if in
the age of free Kindle downloads, being spoiled for choice hasn’t jaded us so
much as it has left us frantically searching for The One. And the stories that
really do work for me are the stories in which I most fully experience the
power of The One.
It seems to me that the power of The One is more evident in erotica and romance
than it is in any other genre. I suppose that sounds really obvious in a
Cinderella and Prince Charming, or best fuck ever sort of way. At the risk of
over-simplifying, it’s all about being The One, finding The One, enticing The
One, seducing or being seduced by The One. Happily ever aftering with The One.
In our need to connect, in our need for intimacy, it seems to me that the power
of The One draws us more than any other element of story. It isn’t so much the
need for a knight on a white horse as it is the need for a kindred spirit, as
it is the need for someone who groks us, someone who gets us on the deepest level of our quirkiness, our flaws, our potential,
our Oneness. The archetypal story is that The One goes on a journey that no one
else can go on, and on that danger fraught journey, The One finds The Other
One, the only Other One who really gets
him/her, who is the flint to The One’s steel. And the resulting fire is what
propels the story, what takes the reader in and entices her into her own place
of Oneness. Hearts and flowers – maybe. Best fuck ever – could be. Magnetic
connection – bound to be.
The thing is, not everyone’s fire is fueled the same way. One person’s One is
another person’s bloke at the bus stop. The story of The One can be a game of
substitution in which our minds edit out the hero/heroine and insert ourselves
making the story about us. WE become The One. Or the story of The One can be
more of a voyeuristic menage in which we find ourselves happily inserted into
the relationship, experiencing a bit of the hero, a bit of the heroine, and
basking in the chemistry that happens in the space between, when two Ones
collide. I find this to be more of a 3D way to experience The One. In a lot of
ways that space in between, that joining place where the rough edges rub up against
each other is the real One. The joining place is the space in which the two become
a different kind of One.
Beyond romance and erotica, the power of The One is what so much of story is
about. The One who catches the serial killer. The One who is the serial killer.
The One who wins the battle, The One who pulls the Sword from the stone, The One
whose face launches a thousand ships. The One who can wear the glass slipper.
The tale of The One is the mathematics of story. The One plus the Other One
equals One, and that One is the Whole, the plurality of One.
The tale of The One is the physics of story. When the One
fuses with the Other One, when they join together to form THE ONE. That fusing
results in a release of energy, energy that feeds the reader, energy that
drives the story.
When The One reader finds The One story, the energy released
can change the reader’s internal landscape. The constant search for The One
story by the reader is a treasure hunt that can change everything. Every reader
has experienced that post coital bliss of indulging in The One story. It’s
chemistry, it’s fire, it’s magic! It doesn’t happen often, but every time it
does, it’s enough. It’s enough to drive us on in search of the next One.