If you’re a writer with publishing ambitions, I’m sure you’ve heard agents calling for ‘stories with lots of heart’. I’ve heard this term tossed around but what does it really mean to give a novel heart?
I came across one of the best explanations in Donald Maas’ The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface, where he says:
Heart is a quality inherent not in a manuscript but in its author. It is not a skill but a spirit. Spirit may seem mystical, but it’s not an accident. It can be cultivated and practiced. Every day it can seep into the story choices you make. The spirit you bring is the spirit we’ll feel as we read, and of all the feelings you can excite in your readers the most gripping and beautiful is the spirit of hope.
How can we infuse more heart into our stories? By building empathetic characters the reader can root for. By adding more emotional layers to our characters and dig deeper into how our characters react to their changing world.
We can infuse emotional depth to the central conflict and create an emotional reading experience with a story that leaves the reader satisfied, hopeful and maybe even inspired.
How do you add heart to your stories?