Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What Is the Heart of Your Story?

Over the weekend I attended SCBWI New Jersey's regional conference. This was my second time at the summer conference, and I can't say enough good things about it!

One moment that really stood out for me was during a chat with agent Susan Hawk. We were discussing my manuscript, and she asked me what the heart of my story was.

Wait, what? The heart? Not the genre-elevator-pitch-setting-main-character-plot-query-marketability? I walked away really thinking about this question. What IS the heart of my story?

Within a few minutes, I narrowed it down to two basic thoughts. It's a story about:
  • a boy who forgot how to love people
  • a boy who needs to run away to find his way back home
Despite all the robots and steampunk and magic and climaxes and plot points, the true essence of the story, underneath all the storytelling, boils down to that. Bare bones!

So what about you? What is the heart of your story?


  1. Susan Hawk asked me the exact same thing! I'm so glad she did because I'm going to make sure it's incorporated into my query. This is such an important thing to think about when writing your story.

  2. The heart of the story. I love that. As I begin a revision on my new MS, I will ponder that. Great post, Gina!

  3. I think this is really important when you begin to revise. Boiling down your story can be difficult but so important!

  4. The heart of my story: a girl must lose her life to find it. Too bad no agent has ever asked me that...I've been waiting to tell someone. :)

  5. How funny that we both blogged about this! Having that theme/heart in mind while you're writing/revising/querying/etc. can really help keep you on track.

  6. Great post - thanks. I love this and now I know what my query is missing.

  7. Sounds like you really know the heart of your story, which is the first win in the battle. :)

    My heart is: Your are more than than the choices of your past.

  8. I love this. Now let me think...
    The heart of my story: a girl with anger issues who has to find her way out of the vicious circle of bullies and their bully victim.

    Now it seems you're working on a steampunk novel... if my deduction is right then I LOVE YOU THIS MUCH MORE!!! :D and yay for steampunk and robots.