You Gotta Have Heart

When I came up with my title I was also playing with the Wizard of Oz line, ” If I only Had a Heart”. Okay, it may have been brain, but I know the Tinman needed a heart.

A story needs a heart, not just the characters, story and scenery. It needs heart. For the heart of the story is the dialog between the characters.

I once read a story that was the discussion between Mr. Spock’s human and Vulcan brain. You remember Mr. Spock? The original Star Trek super intellect and no emotion half human half Vulcan. I loved him. You could picture the human Spock and the Vulcan Spock from the words. The phraseology was key. Mr. Spock spoke coolly and without emphasis: ” Mr. Chekov, I believe you should not turn around”. That was the Vulcan non-emotional thing. ” Mr. Chekov! Run!” That was his human side. As the series developed, Mr. Spock learned to let his human side show more.

You need to let your emotional side show in your words as well as your actions.

Dialog can be difficult because we want to talk for our characters, rather than letting them talk to us. When you write, listen to your characters and talk with them so that you get their cadence and word usage down.  For practice in making dialog sound real, write down your most recent conversation with a friend. Or your husband at the breakfast table. It will look strange. You will have to tweak it to make it read like a conversation, rather than a grunting or hming concert.

Here’s to good conversation and great heart.



One thought on “You Gotta Have Heart

  1. I’d add here that the quality of heart varies somewhat depending on what genre you are writing, as readers connect with different sentiments. Great idea to write down a recent conversation as a sample for dialogue.


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