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writing from the heart


Do you practice writing from the heart, or even plan to?

Romance writers practice writing from the heart, even when their stories take a turn for the worst.

Action writers do it, writing from the heart, just to remind you they’ve got one.

Adventure writers fill pages with writing from the heart to make you join with them in the excitement of new places.

So what is writing from the heart, and how do you know it when you read it?

One of the basic rules of writing, to either use or ignore, is ‘Write what you know.’

Sometimes it’s a good idea.

If you’re a heart surgeon writing from the heart, let your readers know whose heart it is, yours or your patient.

No one wants writing from the heart when it comes from the bad heart you just switched out for a better one.

Do that and your work will feel congested, fibrillated, or diseased in some way.

If you write a love story, which one is better, a take on Romeo and Juliet where feuding families are an obstacle for the young lovers, or your own.

If you steal story ideas, be sure to steal from the best.

Romeo and Juliet have been around longer than the story about the boyfriend/girlfriend who dumped you at sixteen.

Maybe Shakespeare could make sense of your story, but only if it had someone telling you how wonderful your girlfriend is, how special they seem, just before stealing them away and impregnating them.

That’s a burn you don’t want to feel, but your readers do. Why? Because it’s a universal theme of discomfort.

Good readers need validation for their own feelings, and reading is safer than acting out.

For example, The Great Gatsby is great because it shows how far a stalker will go to recapture the love that slipped away.

“She loves me, not you,” Gatsby tells his married girlfriend. In front of her husband.

“But I love you both,” Daisy said.

Then Daisy sticks with the money husband, not the broken heart, and we’re all better for her choice.

Spoiler alert: She evens things up by accidentally running over her husband’s girlfriend, prompting the dead woman’s husband to do some killing of his own.

Does it sound like romance in the Roaring Twenties?

An action writer gets our blood pumping by putting their hero in situations we can’t image escaping.

After everything else, The Martian is an action story. It would have Romance writing if the hero had written a diary about everything he’ll miss by dying on the red planet instead of trying to survive.

Have you read The Martian?

I would have been dead the first day. Second tops.

But the hero is inventive and funny, two characteristics you don’t always find together in one engineer/botanist.

The late, great, Kurt Vonnegut wrote a story about a good soldier on a foreign moon who finds a diary of hope. They read it and discovered themselves.

It was a reminder to stay true your heart even after an operation to install an antennae in your brain.

One of the great feats of writing comes from Elmore Leonard who said, “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.”

Again, steal from the best unless you have a better story.

A young man overcomes time, space, and social standing to hitch hike across America for the love of his life, only to find she’s the love of many lives. And pregnant by one of them.

If the adventure story of Moby Dick stands as The Great American Novel, or Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, you’ve got some deciding to do.

Before you twitter up your writing feelings with #writing, #amwriting, or #written, know your story.

Was Moby Dick a fishing story? Was Huck Finn a boating story? Is your story either one, or more.

Let’s say it here: Make it more.

Imagine embarking on a military adventure just to add context to those promoting military ideas without experiencing the adventure part.

How could that go wrong? It won’t if you do it right, if you do it from the heart.

“Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

Who would know better than E. Hemingway, 1899 – 1961.

About David Gillaspie
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