And I'm actually pretty happy with it. Things came together nicely, and as I was working on certain elements, other elements of the story magically became cooler, just like that! Which I tend to think of as a sign I'm heading in the right direction.
Along another line, I've seen a bunch of my LJ friends do the '10 ways you can tell a book was written by me' (or something like that) meme, and I was thinking about that, but the last few books I've written have been pretty different from each other. So here's my slight variation:
Themes (and other things) that hit my story-telling kinks
(and where I have managed to use them in my own stories)
1. Close friends/relatives turned against each other (see Peter and Kevin in Signi/SEA, Cass and Danielle in GutG, Lucy and an awful lot of people in PL). It's just so much more juicy and complicated and intense than two people in conflict who never liked each other anyway. :D
2. Enemies who turn into friends (see Signi/SEA, PL). Basically the reverse of the above. I love it when I start out disliking/distrusting a character and then that character reveals hidden depths that turn it all around.
3. Drawn-out romantic tension (see Angie and *spoiler* in Signi/SEA, Lucy and *spoiler* in the next Lucy book if it comes into existence, Jarad and Sesili in THH). As with #1, so much more juicy and intense than two people who realize they how they feel, tell each other, and hook up right away.
4. Endings that are not completely happy (see pretty much every one of my books, though you could argue that considering everything that happened before the end, Jarad finishes THH in about a good a place as he could possibly be in. But I am very mean to him before that, so it sort of balances out). Leaving a few small loose ends, and few things that didn't quite work out the main character's way, while still having them get enough of what they wanted to be satisfying--it just feels more real to me.
5. A rock and a hard place (see pretty much every book, though it's least present in GutG). Okay, so I like watching (and making) characters squirm. And making it so that they have to sacrifice something important to them if they want to get some other important thing, and vice versa... Very squirm-inducing. :D
6. The extraordinary treated as everyday life (see GutG, PL). I much prefer to start with a character who's already used to her extraordinary circumstances, and has adjusted them, rather than show that whole adjustment phase. Mostly because the adjustment phase is done a lot, and I think people react pretty similarly when in shock--it's when they get over the shock and start dealing that you really see their personality.
7. Characters with passion (see Peter and Kevin in Signi/SEA, Lucy in PL, and particularly Jarad in THH). I like characters who dive in rather than waffling in indecision, characters who know what they stand for and what they believe in, characters who fight for what they need or want, characters who can completely devote themselves to a cause or another person... even if they're misguided or just plain wrong. They're fascinating to watch, and they give lots of good drama, too.
8. Stories that are fraught (see pretty much everything I've ever written, as much as I was able). This encompasses a lot of the above, plus more. I like high emotional and personal stakes, difficult conflicts with no clear solutions, situations that force characters to do things that scare or disgust them, and everything that goes with that. I want to be sucked into a story, unable to put it down because I'm so wrapped up in the main character's dilemmas and so uncertain about how s/he'll get out of them. And I want other people to feel that way about mine. :D
So... what are your story kinks? ;)