Telling Your Story

Write with your heart

Image by Kev Howlett
Image by Kev Howlett

Why do we like to read other people’s stories? Because we want to know how other people tick. We want to know that they have flaws, just like us, and that these flaws don’t make them (or us) any less human or likeable. Aren’t the most flawed characters the ones we like after all? This is true for fiction as well as biography because even in fiction the characters need to be true to life. Otherwise, who cares?

For a lot of writers, there is reluctance to go deeper, to expose the person behind the words. This usually stems from fear. Fear of rejection, fear of ridicule, fear of failure.

What usually happens though, is that the deeper, more authentic the writing, the more it resonates with the reader. This results in a greater connection and the reader applauding the writer for their work.

So how do you go deeper? How do you access that part of you that will expose your true self? It’s a bit like peeling an onion. Each of us is multi layered, multi dimensional.

So where do you start? Write without thinking about it too much. Just get your story out. Get out of your head and into your heart. Don’t think about what anyone thinks or if there are issues with spelling or grammar. All of those issues can be dealt with later. Don’t skim over things, get to the heart of them. Don’t write ‘I was devastated’, tell the reader what that devastation felt like. Did it make you (or the character) physically ill, pained in the stomach, unable to sleep? Don’t write, ‘he was angry’, tell the reader what that person did to convey anger. Was he red in the face, was he aggressive, did he raise his voice? Don’t worry if some of this comes out as clichés. This is normal and if you worry about it too much, you will lose the flow. Grammar, cliché, spelling and details can all be fixed in the rewrite.

Essentially, to get to the heart of the story, you need to ask yourself, ‘how does it make you feel?’ If you’re truthful about this in your writing, the rest will fall into place.


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