I had a discussion the other day with a darling CP of mine, all about the concept of Heart and Soul projects.
Dividing books into categories isn’t exactly new, I know. Even Neil Gaiman has said he feels his books have genders. But my stories seem to stem from one of two places: Heart or Soul.
The first book I ever wrote was a Soul book — it had to be, since I spent 10 years of my life writing it — but the one after was a Heart book. I didn’t love it any less, but it didn’t take a piece of me. It was almost MUCH quicker to write! It didn’t require me to bleed into the pages, or encompass my every bit of being. It took me half an hour to outline it, and then about 12 months to write it, on and off.
Soul books drag me into their depths and refuse to let me out til I’ve written them. Even when I get the idea they haunt me, giving me slivers of information at random moments. I could be eating my dinner, suddenly be gripped by a plot solution, and have to find some paper to write it down (this happened recently).
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy writing or reading the Heart Books any less! Heart books tend to be an important story, one I want to read as much as I want to write. I knew that particular Heart books could live happily on shelves and in reader’s hands. It’s just different in feeling as I’m writing them.
Soul books, of which I am currently writing two, require a bit more from me. I usually dwell over their concept for 6-12 months. They require deeper concentration, twistier plots, settings and characters and dialogue which, if you held it up to anyone to view, would be an accurate preview of what I’m made of. Yes it might be dark, and twisty, but it can also be bright, humorous, alluring.
Not that I’m saying I’m the most alluring person when I’m nibbling my 20th jaffa cake and sobbing over edits, but you get the idea.
I find it easier to put the ideas I have into these two camps because then I know what to reserve more of: time or energy. Heart books require more time than energy, as I can force myself to sit down and write them even if I feel a bit tired.
With Soul Books, they require a lot of both.
It can also prepare me for the content–am I about to write a dashing adventure with themes and emotions that mean a lot to me? Or am I about to write something seeped in atmosphere and character that I simply can’t stop thinking about?
I’ve had Heart books which made me cry. The ending of the last one still gets me. It means so much to be able to read the end of the MC’s journey.
I’ve had Soul books which I laugh at and absolutely enjoy writing. The current WIP brings me joy with one character and the absolute one liners he delivers, and the friendships thrill me.
But they will always be different. One side will always be that touch more personal, and scoop out a slice of my soul to bare to the world.
In short: my Heart books tend to be lighter – my Soul books tend to be deeper.
Do you have any way of categorising your stories? I’d love to know!
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