Friday, February 15, 2013

Don't forget the HEART of your story!

It's heart month!

I LOVE February!

I LOVE love!

I LOVE hearts!

My love of this month quadrupled upon the birth of my daughter, Annabelle, who was born with only half of her heart in 2010. In 2011, we spent heart month in the hospital, praying for a NEW heart. In 2012, it in the hospital ER with RSV and being diagnosed with failure to thrive. In 2013.... well, we spent it at home, eating WAY too much chocolate as a way to celebrate her FIRST Valentine's day at home!

Through the last few years, I've learned something pretty big in my writing.

And it's about hearts too. (and no, not just because I write romance!)

It's the the value of WRITING FROM THE HEART!

The heart is the seat of our emotions in our culture today. (Wasn't it the bowels in Bible days or something??? SO SO thankful we use the heart...)

So when we say, "write from the heart" it means that we are digging deep in our souls and splattering that on the pages. In order for us to evoke strong emotion in our readers, we need to pull from strong emotions as we write.

A tepid book is just not very fun to read.

That emotion will vary upon the author, upon the genre, and upon the plot.

The emotion can be fear, happiness, sadness, joy, passion, anger, anxiety, uncertainty, the list goes on and on.

A GOOD book will hit several of these emotions. YOU as an author should experience several of these while you write!

Writing, good writing, is a soul-seeking, bloody process. Even though I write funny romance, I still have to dig deep in me, in my experiences, and put my heart on the pages. Some of the reviews of my first novel reflect that... such as this endorsement from one of my FAVORITE authors.

"Don’t let the light-hearted cover and title fool you. Krista Phillips’ spunky, rough-around-the-edges heroine may be “tickle me” funny, but her faith journey offers more than a cute read. There is depth here, made all the more satisfying served up with a generous side of romance." - Tamara Leigh, author of Restless in Carolina and Dreamspell

Use your life experiences, the emotions and deep feelings you've had, when you write. You don't have to "write" your experiences, but you write to evoke emotions. That emotion will be vastly different depending on what genre you write and your voice. But it should still be there.

Annabelle's first valentine's day...
my blue baby decked out in her red!
(And yes, we DID bring her swing to the hospital ICU for her!
The last few years have been difficult, I'll admit. My family has gone through more than I'd ever wish on anyone. Congenital heart defects are awful, and they kill. (Did you know heart defects kill more children a year than all childhood cancers combined??) Seeing your child laying in a crib, their heart beating in an open chest, is life-changing.

My hope is that God can use the things I felt, the things I LEARNED, helps someone else when they read my books.

My books aren't about "heart" defects.

But they are definitely about the heart.

Discussion: What life experiences have you had that shape how you write? How do you show your emotions on the page?

(Note: this is a slightly adapted/updated repost~~ so if it seems familiar, that's why! But I thought it an important reminder and a great time of the year to post it!)


Anonymous said...

Krista, thanks for sharing a bit of your story. :) I think walking through infertility deepened my heart, so to speak. I'm still learning to convey emotion on the page. I keep an emotion journal, but I need to be more consistent in entering thoughts and descriptions into it for future use. :)

I also try to get into my character's head to figure out how s/he would respond on an emotional level in the situation. How do you get emotion onto the page?

Mary Vee Writer said...

Hi Jeanne and thank you Krista.

To answer your question, Jeanne, I saturate myself into the person. I take on the role of an actress, becoming the character and then living the situation. Hope that helps a little.

Krista Phillips said...

Agree with what Mary said. I really try to put myself in the characters head, try to feel what she would be feeling and figure out how she would react. If I'm at an emotional part of the book, and I'm not feeling emotional myself, then I know that I'm not doing this well.

And it's not just about wordsmithing to show emotion. Our story itself should be emotion evoking in some way. If not, it might be a sign that you need to dig deeper into their goals and motivations and that your storyline needs to be tweaked.

Anonymous said...

THanks, ladies. Your words make lots of sense. :)