I've mentioned before that my next story will have no romance, at least of what can be seen initially. While I plan to introduce a character that will add some meaning behind some actions later, she won't appear in the novel. Will she be like Jenny from Shining? I actually don't know yet as I have determined part of her personality and role, but there is certainly room for more details. To be fair, I am still working on developing my main cast for the upcoming novel that she has been developed mostly to help me work on the others.
When I think of the good stories, romance is often the afterthought made mostly to give motivation to the characters like in J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. However, it isn't required as shown in C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series and Tolkien's The Hobbit. Likewise when I think of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, I enjoy the story and there are no serious romances. We may think of these as Children's Stories, but there are lessons to be learned from them. They may be "simple" in our eyes but they are often the best. This is because when we desire too much obvious complexity, every time we read the same story, it's no longer as complex. It's the simple complexities that make a story engaging again and again. Yes, Shining could be considered a simple story, but if you read it multiple times, you may notice that there's something new to be understood each time. Over the course of writing it, when I would go back to read over what I wrote, I found many subtleties that intrigue me just by the way it all fits together or references something I liked unintentionally. The biggest surprise was actually the final battle, so when I noticed it, I edited the wording a little more to emphasize it without completely revealing it. However, once you recognize the unintentional reference, it's hard to not see it.
Of course, Shining does include drama so I can't say it's the perfect example of a "simple" story without it. What I can say is that I'm taking lessons I've learned from my attempts to make things "complex" and that the best complexities are the unintended ones. When you strive for the simplicity, you find that it's actually a complex problem to solve and how you solve it is where your creativity is shown.
Drama has its place but I think we have depended on it too much for the study of humanity. If you intend to write a story, I challenge you to avoid all hints of romance and see how your characters develop. The result might end up being a timeless classic like Naria or LOTR.
J. D. Nyle