The heart of a story is critical; it is the purpose of the book. Without it, a story becomes meaningless and ultimately forgettable. This week, I found the heart of my story.
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This discovery was unexpected, in that, I thought I already knew what the heart of my story was: the resilience of two girls and the courage that drives them to fight for what they want, while holding on to hope. The purpose of the story was to counter the lies that they believe and explore the value of their friendship and why it’s worth having. This is a very nebulous statement though, which is a problem I had with the research documents I was reading during my situation. It’s too broad and impersonal, which makes it hard to apply in real-life. That is the exact opposite of what I want my book to be.
I didn’t start the week trying to find the heart of my story; honestly, I didn’t think I needed to. The reason I ended up looking for it is because of James’ Patterson’s views on outlines. It’s no secret that I don’t like outlines, (a fact which has both positively and negatively affected my work over the course of the past few months), and I was more than happy to dismiss his views with little thought. But I was watching an interview about his views and near the end, he said that outlines can be used to figure out the emotional arcs of your characters which will help you write the story better because you understand the characters at play. For some reason, this stuck with me.
Unable to shake the idea, on Monday, I sat down and wrote out the emotional arcs of the two main characters Charlie and Sam. I specified events, what they thought and felt about those events, the lies that they believe and how it affects where they are in the story and leads them to where they are going.
Having all of this written down as a list was very helpful. It highlighted where things move too quickly, where they feel unnatural, and the ways that character conversations add to each other to guide the characters’ growth. I learned that I am going to need to fundamentally change the middle of the book to obtain the emotional impact that I am going for. I am also compiling a list of scenes that must be removed to rewritten to enhance the emotional flow of the book.
The heart of my story is in the lies that the characters believe, and the way that they overcome those lies and learn the truth. The truth doesn’t solve everything, but it breaks the haze and gives my girls something to fight for, and something to believe in. I am not going to spoil what those lies are, but I think that it’s a very human to experience lies and explore the truth, and through that humanity, I can connect with the reader and write a story that can touch human hearts. That is my goal.
I bid you hope for the future and light on your way. Thank you for joining me.
Project Status: Editing.
2 thoughts on “The Heart To Find”
Katie, I have learned in 12 step meetings that believing the lies about yourself and others may be called “denial”. Denial works as shock absorbers against emotional pain, the pain of truly accepting who you are. The truth does set you free, but the process can be painful at times. It becomes quite serene when you accept yourself and others are they are. I try to always look at situations and the players involved with the wisdom that people usually are doing the best they can at that moment. A person’s “best” is all that there is. It is good. Expecting more than just leads to resentments.
Katie, this poem is for you.
We begin as loners
fuelled by our passions
for the playfulness of the imagination.
We find ourselves in places we’ve never been
motes of invisibility are everywhere
amnesiac patches drift like clouds through our brains
yet, we will sit at the bottom of the pit
let the wild animals appear
take them into our bones, hearts, and muscles
and write them down
believing in the necessity of the ever-evolving mystical
believing in the wisdom of a thousand artificial borders
that a truth is there
Such is the faith of a writer.
© Carol J. Hughes
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