One of my readers told me that I was writing comfy ghost stories. I was a bit taken aback because I was unfamiliar with the idea of a comfy mystery. But in thinking it through, I believe them to be right.
One of the things I discovered at the tea room is that people are simply people. They are motivated by the tides of fear and love. Everything else is a costume they dress up in. Love simply wants to be loved in return. Fear needs to be addressed. But once we’ve looked it in the eye, it usually is never as big, dark or scary as we thought.
We’re told as story writers that we should be writing about conflict. I think it hits women differently than it hits men. I have no interest in writing about war, politics or economics. And though I’ve never been a girly girl, I believe women’s conflicts to be very different. The core of it is how you view winning. There are two basic views.
One is that you win and the other person loses. All on the line. I would argue that a male view but I’ve seen women employ it. It would be the standard definition, except that it has some big problems. Someone gets to win everything they want. The backlash of that is that you have a loser, who has been humiliated and beaten. You may have one a battle but you have a war forever because that person will come back after you again and again until one of you dies or quits.
All of this is predicated on the idea that there is a hero, a villain, and a victim. We don’t just do this in story telling. We practice it in medicine, alcoholic families, politics, and the court system.
The other model is that you have a win-win solution. In this case, we negotiate so that gets a part of what they want. Maybe not all of it. But enough that no one feels humiliated and has to fight more about it. Each person is their own hero, head held high.
What has that to do with comfy stories? How do you solve your conflicts? In the telling, we’re willing to use the skills to look at each side and make something real and good for the characters within a conclusion. Marlene solves her client’s problems with wit, guile, good will, and the belief that you don’t win by bashing the bolrog. I believe in it in my life, I believe in it as a story teller.
You won’t find the harsh edges that come with win-win conflict resolution, in my stories very much. Instead, I hope you find heros all, looking for the way to do best by each other.
In honor of this, I’m putting up a new story today on the blog. Read how Marlene fights to end a feud between a priest and the woman he loved and lost in Margaret and the Priest.