Heart


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Heart

By Nandy Ekle

The heart, the center, the core, the theme, the main idea. This is a very important part of your story. The heart is what the story is about.

Look at anatomy. On the outside we see skin, hair, fingernails. But we don’t see what’s under the skin. We don’t see the bones, the muscles, or the blood in its vessels. But we can look at the skin and see the evidence of those deeper body parts. Our skin has a firm shape because of the bones under it and it’s warm and has a rosy color because of the blood being pumped by the heart through the blood vessels.

Our stories are the same. We talk about story layers all the time, and that’s another good analogy—the onion theory. On the topmost layer of the story you have what’s happening at the moment. The next layer might be what’s going on inside the characters’ heads, and there might be a layer of tension between the characters because of the relationship between them. You could even have a layer of discovery and healing when the relationships change. But the very center of the story, the heart, is what the whole thing is really all about.

The other definition of “heart” I want to talk about sort of fits parallel with this one. Heart equals feelings. One of the best ways to connect with your reader is with emotions. You have a main character that wants something so much they are willing to risk everything to get it. You want your reader to feel this yearning and hunger as much as the character. You want your reader to feel every struggle, every disappointment, every victory with your character. When that happens, the center layer of your story goes right into the reader’s heart and they learn the same lesson the character learns.

In my blog next week, we will look at ways to burrow down into a reader’s heart and make your story become their story.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

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Heart


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Heart

By Nandy Ekle

The heart, the center, the core, the theme, the main idea. This is a very important part of your story. The heart is what the story is about.

Look at anatomy. On the outside we see skin, hair, fingernails. But we don’t see what’s under the skin. We don’t see the bones, the muscles, or the blood in its vessels. But we can look at the skin and see the evidence of those deeper body parts. Our skin has a firm shape because of the bones under it and it’s warm and has a rosy color because of the blood being pumped by the heart through the blood vessels.

Our stories are the same. We talk about story layers all the time, and that’s another good analogy—the onion theory. On the topmost layer of the story you have what’s happening at the moment. The next layer might be what’s going on inside the characters’ heads, and there might be a layer of tension between the characters because of the relationship between them. You could even have a layer of discovery and healing when the relationships change. But the very center of the story, the heart, is what the whole thing is really all about.

The other definition of “heart” I want to talk about sort of fits parallel with this one. Heart equals feelings. One of the best ways to connect with your reader is with emotions. You have a main character that wants something so much they are willing to risk everything to get it. You want your reader to feel this yearning and hunger as much as the character. You want your reader to feel every struggle, every disappointment, every victory with your character. When that happens, the center layer of your story goes right into the reader’s heart and they learn the same lesson the character learns.

In my blog next week, we will look at ways to burrow down into a reader’s heart and make your story become their story.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Heart


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Heart

By Nandy Ekle

The heart, the center, the core, the theme, the main idea. This is a very important part of your story. The heart is what the story is about.

Look at anatomy. On the outside we see skin, hair, fingernails. But we don’t see what’s under the skin. We don’t see the bones, the muscles, or the blood in its vessels. But we can look at the skin and see the evidence of those deeper body parts. Our skin has a firm shape because of the bones under it and it’s warm and has a rosy color because of the blood being pumped by the heart through the blood vessels.

Our stories are the same. We talk about story layers all the time, and that’s another good analogy—the onion theory. On the topmost layer of the story you have what’s happening at the moment. The next layer might be what’s going on inside the characters’ heads, and there might be a layer of tension between the characters because of the relationship between them. You could even have a layer of discovery and healing when the relationships change. But the very center of the story, the heart, is what the whole thing is really all about.

The other definition of “heart” I want to talk about sort of fits parallel with this one. Heart equals feelings. One of the best ways to connect with your reader is with emotions. You have a main character that wants something so much they are willing to risk everything to get it. You want your reader to feel this yearning and hunger as much as the character. You want your reader to feel every struggle, every disappointment, every victory with your character. When that happens, the center layer of your story goes right into the reader’s heart and they learn the same lesson the character learns.

In my blog next week, we will look at ways to burrow down into a reader’s heart and make your story become their story.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Growing Up Friendly


Growing Up Friendly

By N. Bright

 

“Most people that are too nice are either very naive or have a hidden motive.” This comment posted on a blog was very troubling to me and has been on my mind for several weeks.

Seriously? Do people really believe this about kindness and manners?

Hidden Motives

When the coffee barista hands me my latte and says, “Have a wonderful day” with a friendly smile that shines in her eyes, does she have a secret motive? When the bank teller says that he really appreciates my business, obviously he must be naïve about the world. When a friend buys my lunch for no good reason, what secret agenda is she hiding?  And when the waitress tells us to come back again soon, what is she really plotting?

Living in the Texas Panhandle, I have experienced “nice” my whole life.

Good Manners

Good manners are  important in this part of the country. I think back to my grandparents who treated each other with nothing but kindness and respect, and I remember them showering the same over their kids, grandkids and neighbors.

My mother managed the cosmetic counter at Parsons Rexall Drug in my hometown of Dimmitt. I grew up as “Peggy’s daughter”. From her I learned that people love to talk about their life and the things that matter to them, and sometimes they just need someone who’ll listen. She had a steady stream of loyal customers and sold a lot of perfume and jewelry, but I don’t believe this was her hidden motive. I think my mom really cared about other people and their lives. She was a kindhearted, generous person.

I am continually reminded that nice and friendly are not foreign to the Texas Panhandle. When I walked across the campus of West Texas A&M University on my way to a meeting with writers, several young men held the doors for me usually with a friendly “Hello “ma’am”. These young gentlemen might sport a white Stetson and wrangler jeans, typical West Texas attire, and yet  another had a tattooed arm attached to fly-away locks and body piercings. The kindness expressed by these students makes me proud to know that common courtesy can be found even in today’s youth. After my meeting I made a stop at the local Braum’s for milk and eggs, only to be greeted at the door by a young man of about seven who held the door open for his mother and me.

I’ve traveled to numerous places to speak in Texas, as well as to Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Kansas, and I’ve found nice people in all of those places.  I attended a conference in Bakersfield, California and had a blast with several very nice and fun folks who rolled out the red carpet to welcome us.

Friendly People & Talented Writers

I don’t believe that acts of kindness and good manners are entirely absent from the human race, and I don’t think that nice people are stupid to the ways of the world. My heart goes out to the person who wrote that comment above, and to other people who truly believe it. How very sad to live every day in suspicion, cowering in alarm of random smiles or hellos, and wondering at any kindness that might come their way.

A New York City acquiring editor told me that she loves coming to this area to find authors. “People here have a clarity of emotion that is rare. You are sincere in your thoughts and actions, and writers have the ability to arrive at the heart of the story.”

Isn’t that a better way to live?  Growing up friendly and finding the heart of the story.

Or maybe I’m just naïve.