The author Gwen Hawes has a book that’s all about writing a romance, but I think a lot of her elements really apply to more genres than that.
One of those elements is what she calls, “whole-hearted.” It’s when the lovers are at the end of the book and you think, “Wow. Have they grown or what? Look at how big their hearts are now. Look at how different their lives are. Those are some whole-hearted people right there.”
And that’s what story (with a positive ending) is all about. It’s about making those characters whole-hearted, and allowing us readers to see their journey.
There’s a line in this song from Hamilton that always resonates with Carrie and it goes:
Look at where we are
Look at where we started
The fact that you’re alive is a miracle.
Just stay alive. That would be enough.
These lyrics get her because they are so true. Life is a process. We start at one point. We move on to another. And when we look back and take stock? That’s where those wow moments happen.
That needs to happen in books too.
And a really good way to bang that difference home is to set up a mirror image at this whole-hearted point of the book that reflects something that started happened at the beginning of the book.
What exactly are we talking about? It’s like this:
Beginning of a series: Wizard gets on a train and goes to magical school.
End of series: Wizard sends his son off on that same train to that same magical school.
Beginning of a book: A girl rides in her grandmother’s car on her way into the remote Maine woods and sees a man pointing at her.
End of a book: A girl drives her own car through those same woods and a man waves goodbye.
See what we mean?
But the thing is that this isn’t just true for our characters. It’s also true for us. A lot of times we believe lies about ourselves. We think that the opinion from a random critique or of a single publisher or reader means more than our process, our art, our our own understanding of self worth.
This is about letting a rejection or a criticism change our whole entire identity.
We stop believing in our creative purpose or our skill and in ourselves. Right? Instead of trying to improve our craft, we give up and internalize the criticism from “Hey, Arthur Levine didn’t like my story,” to “I am a failure. I suck. I should never write again.”
That’s not whole hearted. That’s not where your journey should be. Look at how much better you are now than when you were five, ten, 15, 20-years-old. Be proud of how much you’ve grown and accomplished and learned. Even if that’s just knowing that a lot is two words and not one. That’s growth, baby. Hold onto it.
Shaun is proud that he no longer spells quite – quiet.
Dog Hint For Life: Rejoice in where you are now. Luxuriate in it. Gabby and Sparty were both rescue dogs. Gabby was malnourished, constantly chained to a tree for the first year of her life. Sparty was roaming the streets of the South scavenging for food. Now they live on the coast of Maine and they get to frolic and feed. And be loved. They enjoy that every single day.
Writing Tip of the Pod: Write change. Write mirrors. Look at where your story started and have it journey somewhere else.
And when you do those things? That’s usually when your writing career starts to grow. By understanding the journey of your characters, you get to make your own journey even better! How cool is that?
Shout out: The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.
Our podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please like, share and subscribe!