Writing in a straight line from one heart to another

Unless the writer is in love with love, no one else will feel the emotion of love.

We who write know the accepted basic themes for a story.

Life and death.

Love and death.

Loss and love.

Struggle and failure.

Struggle and triumph.

But what is the essence of good writing?

What is the basis of good storytelling?

We try to make it difficult and complicated.

But it’s really quite simple.

We write best when we’re telling a story from one heart to another.

That’s all it is.

She’s lost and nobody can find her.

She’s in love and he isn’t.

Someone’s dead and someone else is on the run.

He’s innocent but the judge says otherwise.

He’s in danger, and nobody knows.

A life is filled with fear.

A life has hit a dead end.

A life hangs in the balance.

Our life or someone else’s life.

It doesn’t matter.

Unless the story touches the writer’s heart, it can’t touch another.

In Bad Side of a Wicked Moon, I wrote the following love scene between Doc and Eudora. For me, the act of love was not as important as the emotion of the encounter:

Hail danced on the tin roof.

Rain frolicked across the yard.

Thunder cavorted with the lightning.

And the sky draped a Cimmerian curtain as soft as a pillow, as gentle as a blanket upon them. The floor trembled below him, and not even the beats of thunder could drown out the faint whimper rising out of her throat. The hail kept time with the beat of his heart, and he felt the twisted curls in her hair against his face as the rain and the storm reached deep inside him and cleansed the demons that tormented his soul and warned him to cut and run, that no one with his past deserved any morsel of the good life, and he was a thief for trying to take it.

All that was good and all that was bad echoed like cracks of rolling thunder in his brain, and he felt like a condemned man begging silently for a reprieve, and only Eudora could lead him from the darkness and into the light, and he held her against his chest as though he would never let go, and the image of another time and another place taunted him and dared him to stay, and cursed him because he had already stayed too long.

Only the rhythm of the rain, and the rhythm of her breathing, and the rhythm of the pulse inside his throat promised him any hope of redemption. He tried to crawl into her skin, and she had already crawled inside his, and the lightning broke the silence and screamed like an animal in the wild.

He had never heard lightning make a sound before.

When he awoke, Eudora was gone, but the empty place beside him still bore the faint scent of fresh-cut primroses.

The restless beast inside him remained.

Someday it would bury him with all his sins inside a muddy hole dug beside the highway, and he would be no more important than the autumn leaves rotting atop his grave.

He had no doubt.

But today would not be the day.

For a time, the beast had been calmed.

Unless the writer cries, no one else will shed a tear.

Unless the writer is in love with love, no one else will feel the emotion of love.

Unless the writer is frightened, no one else is scared to death.

Unless the writer feels compassion, the story falls flat.

Unless the writer is devastated by the tragedy, it’s just a cold statistic in the obituary column.

A novel can have many twists and turns.

A novel can head off in one direction, then turn sharply and head off into another direction.

A novel can have as many stops as starts.

But a novel, in order to touch someone, must go in a straight line.

It must travel from the writer’s heart to the heart beating inside the reader.

There are no shortcuts.

There is no other way.

Please click HERE to find Bad Side of a Wicked Moon on Amazon.

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  • ‘There are no shortcuts.’

    I have recently had the pleasure of talking with two different fans in person, and both are awaiting the next, middle, book in the trilogy.

    Each had a different take.

    But the man told me, flat out, that the ending that will eventually come can’t happen.

    It made me smile inside (and no, I didn’t correct him or even give him hints – he missed a whopping huge hint in the prologue, and maybe he’ll catch it if he re-reads before the second book). Because in a way, if you look at it sidewise, he was saying that the way things were at the end of the first book there was no forward motion for several plot lines. Critical ones.

    And he’s right – because there is major change, motivated change ahead without which the story cannot move. He just doesn’t know yet that I’ve peeked over the barrier, and put in the labor of making that growth possible within the story universe.

    Life forces changes. Why not fiction?

    And the answer is: of course fiction forces changes.

  • Caleb,

    Comments seem to have disappeared from the newer posts. I understand if this is policy – there were never many commenters.

    But if you didn’t do it on purpose, something’s wrong.

    Curious here.

    A

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