Pages

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Threading the Needle: Discovering the Author/Subject Overlap

By Bethany Hegedus

When crafting a biography—you aren’t just telling your subject’s life story—you are sharing a part of your heart. Yours. The authors. And you are working to connect that heart—your heart, your subject’s heart—to the reader’s heart. How can we do that?

By being in tune with your story, as much as the subjects, and tying that to the reader takeaway. We need to prick our own hearts. We need to bleed—just a little. We need to be sharing our own personal beliefs, hopes and pains.

Uh-oh, I hear you grumbling. Bethany, wait a second. Doesn’t that break all the rules?

Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe, it’s all a fine dance, where the steps laid in drafting and revision, do eventually become invisible. But that doesn’t mean, that we as the “dancers,” didn’t take them intentionally, planning every footstep and movement. We think about what the reader needs to know—and when? We change scenes with the move of a page turn. With pacing and sentence structure, we can weave story threads together. To be drawn to a subject there has to be a “why”—a deep “why” for ourselves and our readers.

And we must do all this AND stay true to the facts. Creative nonfiction, which almost all nonfiction these days is, simply means we writers can use the tools that all writers have at their disposal: voice, character, setting, pacing, repetition, refrain, subtext. We must consult our primary and secondary sources, listen to speeches, and read books, taking deep notes. But the real magic begins to happen, when we are able to connect the subject’s narrative through line to our own, and then to a deep need our readers may have. When that happens, feelings are felt. In us. In our readers.

How?

Subtext! And what do I mean by connecting the subject’s narrative through line to our own?
In biography—for me—a phrase to describe that subtext is a phrase I heard Libba Bray, the YA wunderkind, use when she was teaching a YA intensive with us at The Writing Barn, in thinking about character development—to “thread the needle” tying together your writer heart, the character heart, and then the heart of the reader.

So how does that work in nonfiction?

For me, I start with a deep connection to the subjects I am drawn to. Harper Lee. Mahatma Gandhi. Maya Angelou. Jimmy Carter. Each of these figures shaped the “me” I am. Their books. Their words. Their life’s work lived inside me and beside me, long before I decided to attempt to write a picture book biography of their lives. So, whose life and life’s work has always meant much to you? Some would call these figures personal heroes. Or maybe they were “influencers” before the term got attached to products and Instagram. Who are the scientists, artists, social justice figures that made you YOU? Start there, with a personal connection.


Next, dig in and do the research. We can’t decide the through line ahead of time. Through the research, we must discover and unearth it. How did they become who they became? What obstacles did they face? How did they distinctly persevere? And in doing so we must think about those things for ourselves—what obstacles have we faced, or are we facing? Where do we share the same beliefs? And as much of ourselves as we are investing, our blood, sweat, and tears--we must think of the reader. The child reader. What do they need in their lives—what about your subject’s life will speak to them, inspire them? What is the impact—the reader takeaway—the emotional “ah-ha” you want to leave the readers with. Perhaps it is even something you need. That you too have struggled with.

Grandfather Gandhi did not come together until I embraced that the book was about anger and shame. Arun was angry and ashamed about that anger. As a child I was often angry and made to feel ashamed of that anger—instead of learning how to transform that anger into action—as the Mahatma does for his grandson, Arun. In schools, I have powerful conversations with students about anger, about what happens when we don’t express it, among the learning about life at the Sevagram ashram and the work of Gandhi and its impact on our country through the work of Dr. Martin Luther King. Lightning or lamp? The book asks. Kid readers get to answer that for themselves.

Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird is not just the telling of how young Nelle Harper Lee wrote America’s most beloved book. It is a story about why childhood matters. Nelle’s childhood? Yes. My childhood? Where I merged Scout and Ramona into the same spitfire girl I wanted to be? Yes. But more than that, it’s a story for the reader, of how and why what is happening to them in their lives right now might be used in their futures as they work to “live a life of their own design.”

Rise: From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou is more than a birth to death narrative about the great Maya Angelou’s resilience and ability to process trauma. It is about discovering one’s voice, using it in times of deep despair. It is about community. The healing power of the written and spoken word. For me, the key takeaway is, “there is no safety in silence.” Maya Angelou’s books, her activism, her performances told us this—and today’s readers need to hear it. As a truth teller myself, I need to hear it.

Hard Work But It’s Worth It, The Life of Jimmy Carter's central through line embodies a question. Why does hard work yield strong results only for some people? When this realization dawns on young Jimmy Carter, as a favored white man in the deep South, he sets about to make changes in the statehouse and eventually the White House, working for justice and equality because it is “right and fair.” And in his continued humanitarian work—former President Carter continues to define what it is to be an ally—long before that word was a part of our society’s lexicon. Discussions about white privilege and allyship need to be had. By me. By our teachers. By today’s readers. We all need to do what is right and what is fair—and not just for ourselves but for our communities—large and small.

I have a few more biographies in the publishing pipeline—and though I can’t reveal the subjects—I can reveal that what I believe, what my heart needs to hear, and to heal—is threaded into each and every biography I write.

Not at the expense of the subject.

Or at the expense of the reader.

Or to glorify my own journey.

But as a way to connect us—to pull tight the thread of human suffering, human dignity, human change, human hope.

So go thread that needle!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bethany Hegedus is a novelist and picture book author who lives and works in Austin, Texas. A graduate of VCFA, Bethany is the founder and creative director of The Writing Barn, a writing workshop and retreat center, where writers study online and in-person. She speaks and teaches widely and is the host of the Courage to Create Podcast. Find her online at bethanyhegedus.com

ABOUT THE PRIZE

One winner will receive a signed copy of Hard Work But It's Worth It and another will receive free admission to Bethany's class on picture book range:https://www.thewritingbarn.com/class/picture-book-range-with-author-bethany-hegedus/ 

Leave one comment below about what struck you in the post.

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered NF Fest participant and you have contributed one comment below.


141 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bethany, thank you for your insightful thoughts on writing biographies. This quote from JohnGlenn is written on the wall of the Great Lakes Science Museum in Cleveland, Ohio: “We have an infinite amount to learn, both from nature and each other.”

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fabulous explanation of the need for that deep, resonant "why" at the core of the book. Fuels my passion for the process! Thank you Bethany.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love looking at the lens of bio subjects through personal connection. "So, whose life and life’s work has always meant much to you?" Yes! The first two bios I attempted were people I admired and found interesting, but only learned about relatively recently. The bio I am currently attempting is someone whose writing I have always connected with and that draft has been SO much easier thus far. -Sara Ackerman

    ReplyDelete
  5. Bethany, I love how you think and emphasized connecting the dots through a thread in our hearts. I've enjoyed your biographies and use them as mentor texts!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for those wise words, Bethany. A personal connection is at the heart of story. Thank you for pointing out the importance of connecting writer, reader, and character.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Threading the needle to connect us all...what could be better as a children's writer?! This is such a powerful way to look at what we do, all the way from brainstorming ideas, to researching them, to writing, revising, publishing...all the way to the final element: the child reader!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Tying it all together with your interest to get readers' interest is important to keep in mind. Thanks for this post!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love the idea of connecting the subject to the author to the reader. What a way to bring heart to the story. Thank you, Bethany, for your wisdom.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you for your encouraging words. I needed to hear that it is ok - it is good! - to have a personal connection to my subject. It makes sense - if I don't care deeply about this person or this topic, why would anyone else? Now to find that common ground where my heart and my subject's heart and my readers' hearts can all connect. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for inspiring the perfect note-to-self for today, Bethany: 'Find that common thread and use it to connect character (subject), writer, and reader'. What a beautiful definition for 'heart' in biography.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for walking that line with us for this post. I appreciate the emphasis on using the tools that all writers use.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Eager to hear about your "new" subjects. Thanks for your post.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wonderful inspiration here. Connecting the hearts of the writer, subject then reader really resonated with me this morning. I've been focusing on the details of the subject - which is appropriate, but doing justice to the subject seems almost one sided without making that connection though to the reader! Thanks for this post.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm at the beginning stages of a biography and love the way you frame and approach the whole process. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love the idea of how the author's heart interweaves with that of her subject and the future reader to the enrichment of all of them.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thread the needle with your heart and the essence of your subject's life and the reader will connect. How lovely. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Love that line ~ 'thread the needle'! I have added it to the list of quotes in my Panda Planner.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great post! Working in schools, I see so much anger in children that doesn't have an outlet. I'm going to find your Gandhi book. Without tools to channel anger, it manifests in so many negative ways. Thanks for sharing your heart with all of us!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Bethany, thanks for sharing each of yours! Loved hearing these behind-the-scenes insights.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Bethany, Thank you for your post. Loved this--in thinking about character development—to “thread the needle” tying together your writer heart, the character heart, and then the heart of the reader. Universal themes pull at all of our hearts.

    ReplyDelete
  22. So much to love and learn from here! The bio I'm working on now and my future ideas are all subjects that resonate with me deeply. How nice to be affirmed that I'm on the right track! And since I write at a sewing table that belonged to my beloved grandmother and recently dubbed myself a ”wordstitcher, ” the idea of threading the needle to link my heart to that of the subject and reader really resonates! Thank you for this post!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I love this visual Bethany of threading the needle. Thank you! Be Inspired, Nicki Jacobsmeyer

    ReplyDelete
  24. How lovely that you've so succinctly expressed what's at the core of every writer: heart and heart connections. You've affirmed what we should all keep in mind when searching for subjects and when writing about them. Ironically, I use the phrase "thread the needle" with my students to teach them how to connect their thoughts and analysis to their thesis statements! Thank you for your heartfelt post and examples - Priscilla

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thank you for sharing. This was very inspirational!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I love the comparison to "a fine dance," since the subject of my NF project involves the dance world. There's a deep "why" I'd like to explore, so thank you for highlighting that in your post, Bethany!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Bethany, as always, inspirational! I love how you explained weaving your own journey into the process. Thank you for your post!

    ReplyDelete
  28. This is a great way to address a non-fiction PB! I can already see the link between the one I'm currently researching and raising my own children-and my childhood. Thanks for the way to put a personal spin on the story!

    ReplyDelete
  29. I love the idea of picking a subject that matters to you and finding the "Why". Also what about this person will speak the child reader.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Wow! This post spoke to me immensely. I think my favorite line is: But that doesn’t mean, that we as the “dancers,” didn’t take them intentionally, planning every footstep and movement.

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I love the image of tying together the story, the hearts of reader, character, and writer. Thanks for the inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Wow! This is the perfect way to think about picture book biographies. I am sure many aha moments are happening among NF Fest readers today.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Great post, Bethany! Thank you for sharing your insights on writing biographies. I love the idea of threading the needle with one’s heart and connecting it to your characters heart and then to the heart of the reader.

    ReplyDelete
  34. The idea of threading the needle is so powerful--thanks for illuminating how it works for you in nonfiction pieces!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Bethany, this whole post is so poetic. Thread the needle to draw all the words, stitches, and hearts together so the reader feels it. It is a hard task, but so worth it when it happens. Bios are indeed hard to write if we can't find that connective tissue. TY for you wise words.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Having a deep connection to the subject does shine through to the reader. I've been cautious to consider how the subject relates to myself in the past and stalled on the projects. Your advice might be just the kick start I need. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Thank you for you wonderful words!!! "We need to be sharing our own personal beliefs, hopes and pains." That really touched me and makes me want to work and write on it in this same moment!!! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thanks for making me think through another way into a biography!

    ReplyDelete
  39. I loved your post, Bethany, especially the part about connecting the "deep why" of the subject, ourselves, and our readers. So important!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Can't wait to read your book about Jimmy Carter--such an inspiration! And I'm inspired to check out classes at The Writing Barn now.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Bethany, thank you very much. This post may have given me the in to the bio I've been struggling with. I like your challenge to find how & why the subject touches and matters to us so we can help them matter to our readeres. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Threading the needle mad so much sense to me. Your biographies are among my favorites. Thanks for sharing. Keep up the great writing!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Inspirational. Presenting the "big questions" to kids might be controversial but it is necessary. Thank you for writing those books and for sharing the process with us.

    ReplyDelete
  44. I so agree that when we pour ourselves even just a little into the story we are more invested and hopefully that emotion will be on the page for the readers to soak it up.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Thank you for this. Your discussion and questions relating to the through line will help me greatly with a subject I'm struggling with. I find identifying the through line is one of the hardest parts to writing, but once it is discovered I can create a road map.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Bethany! I am going to save and print this because it is all the things I want to ensure are in my NF PBs! You are so wise!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Interesting premise to 'connect your heart with the readers' by starting with a personal connection to your subject. That makes a lot of sense. I think we writers should 'bleed a little' every time we start tapping on the keyboard. Thanks so much for sharing your heartfelt methods of choosing to write about a person whose life and work meant a lot to you. I can see that was certainly true when you wrote 'Grandfather Ghandi'! I have some ideas brewing in my head (and my heart) that I would like to write about so I'll be applying this litmus to help me choose!

    ReplyDelete
  48. Connecting in as may ways as we can. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Bethany, thank you for this clear and insightful post on a challenging topic! I'll carry your words of wisdom into all my writing.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Thanks for the inspiration and tying it all together!

    ReplyDelete
  51. "To be drawn to a subject there has to be a 'why'—a deep 'why' for ourselves and our readers."

    This is a great line to drive choosing a topic and when furthering the focus of the narrative. How does it benefit the reader? Why is this story important? What's the universal message we will learn?
    -Ashley Congdon

    ReplyDelete
  52. Thanks for sharing. I have been wanting to visit The Writing Barn for some time!

    ReplyDelete
  53. Great post! I had thought about heart, but not about my heart, and certainly not about why that might be important to the story. Thanks for these insights.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Thank you the deep dive into writing biographies.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Beautiful explanation of the need to connect the heart of the subject of the biography with the reader's heart...and your own. In the biographies I have written, I start with wanting to know why these persons did what they did. Even Benedict Arnold, whom we view as a traitor, was the general George Washington trusted above every one else, having seen Arnold put superhuman effort into any thing he was asked to do. So why did he change? It's an interesting study in frustrations. Another time I turned down the project because I could not find the soul of that person. Brava, Bethany!

    ReplyDelete
  56. I have to "believe" in my stories about animals. I am not a scientist, but I believe animals have emotions and "communicate " with us. Life is amazing whether it's human, mammal, insect or whatever.

    ReplyDelete
  57. So glad you mentioned heart! It's a little like voice to me...hard to pin down exactly what it is but you know when it's there--and when it's missing. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  58. I need that passion and heart to keep me going through the project -- and it helps me define why it's important to me, and therefore (I hope) I can show why it might be important to the reader too.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Great post, Bethany. Connecting hearts - I love it! This is a wonderful way to describe writing.

    ReplyDelete
  60. The best stories are those that are personal at some level, whether for the reader or for the writer. Your post highlights once again that the as writers we must listen to the subject to find the heart of their story and connect to that heart at a very deep personal level in order to be able to connect it to our readers.

    ReplyDelete
  61. ". . . to “thread the needle” tying together your writer heart, the character heart, and then the heart of the reader."
    Finding the heart and threading it into the heart of your reader-beautiful! Thank you, Bethany, for this inspiring post.

    ReplyDelete
  62. What a great post, and what a lot to think about. Thanks so much for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  63. A great reminder to connect emotionally to our bio subject, so that young readers will connect emotionally, too. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  64. Thanks for your post Bethany, so much info I will need to read it twice!

    ReplyDelete
  65. I acquired new knowledge today about connecting the subject’s narrative through line to my own.

    Thank you, Bethany.

    Suzy Leopold

    ReplyDelete
  66. Bethany, I connected with your entire post and especially this line “We can’t decide the through line ahead of time” because I think this is what I’m struggling with on my WIP. Thanks for the advice. I’ll keep writing and researching.

    ReplyDelete
  67. Thanks for the great advice about finding the ways we are all woven together.

    ReplyDelete
  68. You put into words why I want to write about certain people1 And thank you for the reminder: We can’t decide the through line ahead of time.

    ReplyDelete
  69. Very timely topic, as I've been considering this in the concept of the PB bio I'm currently querying. I think the through line of that project is about resilience, because my subject was a woman and an activist whose ideas were well ahead of her time. With every setback, I remind myself of how she persisted despite naysayers, misogyny, and numerous other setbacks and it deepens my determination to continue telling her story.

    ReplyDelete
  70. This moved me on so many levels! I appreciate the heartfelt manner with which you approached this topic. I find myself thinking often of the way an author, the subject of a story, and the reader are so intimately intertwined. How our hearts are tied together by a narrative whose through line speaks to our larger desires, hopes, and aspirations -- both social and personal. The last lines of your post were wonderful: "What my heart needs to hear and to heal -- is threaded into each and every biography I write. So, go thread that needle!" Your words inspire me to keep pushing forward with my projects. Thank-you!

    Celia Viramontes

    ReplyDelete
  71. I like it when she describes using writing tools and then "the real magic begins to happen, when we are able to connect the subject’s narrative through line to our own, and then to a deep need our readers may have." A thorough process with a satisfying result.

    ReplyDelete
  72. “When crafting a biography—you aren’t just telling your subject’s life story—you are sharing a part of your heart. Yours. The authors. And you are working to connect that heart—your heart, your subject’s heart—to the reader’s heart.” What an inspiring post! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  73. Writers are often advised to write from their hearts. Your post went way beyond that advice and showed that we also need to consider the heart of the subject and the heart of the reader as well and find a way to connect them all. What powerful - and touching - advice! Certainly a profound perspective for us to consider. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  74. Threading the needle and making the thread of connection between hearts. Such a perfect metaphor! Perhaps I need an image of a needle and thread on my writing desk to remind me of the work that needs to be done with each story. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  75. What a great idea to start with a personal connection to our subjects! Thank you, Bethany!

    ReplyDelete
  76. Thank you Bethany for helping us understand threading the needle. Stitching our heart together with the reader and the subject is a great concept. You are so generous to offer one of your classes as a prize. I've heard great things about the Writing Barn.

    ReplyDelete
  77. Hi Bethany, I read and reread this column and anticipate doing so a few more times. The idea that you have to find a connection with them first is interesting, but I was struck by this section, "How did they become who they became? What obstacles did they face? How did they distinctly persevere? And in doing so we must think about those things for ourselves—what obstacles have we faced, or are we facing?" The idea that you try to find an emotion, cause, challenge that impacted the person you are writing about and that resonates both to you and to the children who will read your book is a great way to make your story relatable.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Fantastic, uplifting and encouraging post. Being vulnerable as a writer can bring great results. I continued to need to work on this! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  79. Oh, Bethany, what a wonderful post that I need right now! I'm on a rewrite of a biography per professional suggestions and felt stuck until reading this. I hadn't thought about about having faced some of the same obstacles as mc. Thank you, thank you for helping me thread the needle and prick my own heart first.

    ReplyDelete
  80. This post is pure poetry! Threading the needle - What a beautiful way to describe the heart you put into your books, the intent you have with every word, and the truth you want to share . Thank you Bethany!

    ReplyDelete
  81. Thank you for the "thought" full post, it is helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  82. Oh my goodness, what a beautiful post -- and I almost missed it! Thanks for the encouragement to put more of my heart and my caring into the bios I am working on. I think that ingredient is definitely missing. Back to work!

    ReplyDelete
  83. What a delight to find this after having been to Highlight with you! And very helpful as to what connections I need to make next. thnx-

    ReplyDelete
  84. This is a wonderful post Bethany. I so connect with writing from the heart and am struck by the fact that 'heart' is why I write, but not necessarily how I write. I'm going to revise my favorite manuscripts with your advice in mind. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  85. This moved me. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  86. There's so much to think about here. I'm going to have to come back later to read it again. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  87. What a brilliant way to explain your process. Thank you for sharing, Bethany.

    ReplyDelete
  88. I absolutely love, "go thread the needle." I will remember that takeaway for years to come. Trying to write my first creative nonfiction piece this year so this post was very meaningful to me.

    ReplyDelete
  89. Of course this makes so much sense! We have to select information to include (which means unfortunately not including a great deal more) and what better way than to seek out those details that resonate. My best writing tends to be on subjects that "speak" to me in some way. I think this may help explain the why.

    ReplyDelete
  90. Thanks for sharing! I visualize your post as a quilt-- the heart (of the story) is the applique, the structure is the quilt top, the batting, or "fluff" is the stuff that makes "story" flow and the stitching is like you're own imprint, or way of keeping it all together (your word choice etc).

    ReplyDelete
  91. I love the direction picture book biographies are taking -- deeper, more intimate portrayals of the people who have paved the way before us. They put a face on history, something all children (and adults) need to see more and more.

    ReplyDelete
  92. Thank you for tips on using all means to glean information.

    ReplyDelete
  93. I love the idea of threading the needle - to pull tight the thread of human suffering, human dignity, human change, human hope. Thanks for sharing, Bethany!

    ReplyDelete
  94. Thank you for this very inspiring, insightful post. I will save to read again as I revisit my drafts.

    ReplyDelete
  95. I so admire Bethany's body of work and was touched by her comment that we need to prick our hearts and bleed a little. Threading the needle to knit together the author's heart, the subject's heart and the child reader's heart was a new and inspiring way to look at the craft of writing.

    ReplyDelete
  96. Bethany, I keep hearing your words about connecting the subject's heart,one's heart and the reader's heart. You, books,and the all the courses I've taken at the Writing Barn have enriched me in more ways than I can say.

    ReplyDelete
  97. That's a lovely idea - "connect the subject’s narrative through line to our own, and then to a deep need our readers have" - true in nonfiction and fiction, I think.

    ReplyDelete
  98. A deep connection to and heart-feels for the subject of your bio is a must! I think that comes out in my debut biography, so I can attest to what Bethany said.

    ReplyDelete
  99. Bethany,
    You are one of my favorite children's writers. My granddaughter reaches for Alabama Spitfire every time I ask her to pick out a favorite for us to read at bedtime. I love, love, love your approach to making sure the Heart is in the topic you pick. Melanie Vickers

    ReplyDelete
  100. A vey timely post, Bethany! I love the "threading the needle" analogy. I had not heard the author/subject/reader connection described in that way before. Always looking out for those connections!

    ReplyDelete
  101. I like how you explained your process. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  102. This is like a commencement speech--makes me want to go out and make the world a better place. I think finding this through line is the key to lasting nonfiction. Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
  103. I like the idea of trying to find the connection between the subject and yourself to find the book take away.

    ReplyDelete
  104. Bethany- I truly enjoy your books and use them as mentor texts, thank you for your valuable contributions. And I love the idea of "threading the needle," genius!

    ReplyDelete
  105. You have struck a chord in me. I do have that deep connection with my current subject. I am a quilter and understand threading a needle. Thank you for laying out the pieces.

    ReplyDelete
  106. I love your description of the thread connecting us to the narrative and reader. A beautiful harmony. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  107. This resonates greatly! A post to keep for continued reference. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  108. I love the line of threading the heart from the writer to the subject to the reader. Perfect! Thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
  109. Thanks for this excellent post, Bethany! I love how you talk about the thread that runs through the writer heart, the character heart, and the heart of the reader. I look forward to reading all your upcoming books!

    ReplyDelete
  110. Thanks for your excellent examples and tips on heart and connecting. I love your biographies and can feel the heart!

    ReplyDelete
  111. Thanks for this reminder to find and develop the author/subject/reader connection and for the examples.

    ReplyDelete
  112. I find my deep identification with the subject of the book sustains me through all the research and writing, and helps me find that salient point: why is this story worth telling, among the millions out there? Conversely, I ask myself before starting: do I care enough to spend months, maybe years on this? Or would it be better in someone else's hands?

    ReplyDelete
  113. I am so grateful you taught me this early in my nonfiction work. These details resonate even more and help me keep diving deeper and deeper.

    ReplyDelete
  114. Excellent post. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  115. A reader can feel the heart in each of your books Bethany. Thank you for sharing your process of finding the through line by connecting your subject, yourself as a writer and your audience. This post is a keeper!

    ReplyDelete
  116. “ Who are the scientists, artists, social justice figures that made you YOU? Start there, with a personal connection.”
    This is so true! Thank you for the reminder!

    ReplyDelete
  117. I like where you say, And we must do all this AND stay true to the facts.Thanks for the post. I love PB biographies.

    ReplyDelete
  118. As a person who enjoys sewing and creating art with fabrics, the image of "threading the needle" to pull together the heart of the story, the heart of the author, and the heart of readers really rings home. Thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  119. Thanks for making this easier than finding a needle in a haystack!

    ReplyDelete
  120. I think that writing a NF book requires a lot more "heart" than fiction. In the sense that as the writer, one must really be married to the subject, which includes a lot of love & dedication! And if the marriage is strong, that love & heart will definitely shine through the words & art.

    ReplyDelete
  121. Bethany, this post hit the bullseye, connections of the heart, especially to the reader's heart, is power in nonfiction work. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  122. "The child reader. What do they need in their lives—what about your subject’s life will speak to them, inspire them? What is the impact—the reader takeaway—the emotional “ah-ha” you want to leave the readers with." Sidenote... I had you sign your Harper Lee book at an SCBWI conference last year for my friend who named her daughter, Harper, after Harper Lee. She was so excited when I gave her your autographed and personalized book for Christmas. It was the perfect gift for them. Thank you soooo much!

    ReplyDelete
  123. I loved learning this "thread the needle" idea. I will try to use your advice and think about my heart, my subject's heart and the reader's heart as I write!

    ReplyDelete
  124. Wow, Bethany, you explain so beautifully how to get to the heart of a story and the need to tell it from that place where all the hearts interconnect.

    ReplyDelete
  125. Beautiful explanation! Thank you for sharing how you connect with your stories in order to help readers connect as well.

    ReplyDelete
  126. Bethany, your passions for writing, teaching, and connecting people shine in this post! Thank you for all you do to build a creative community.

    ReplyDelete
  127. Thanks, Bethany, for these ideas. They echo my feelings in writing narrative nonfiction as well. Thank you for expressing it so clearly! Your passion shines through!

    ReplyDelete
  128. Wow, Bethany, thank you for this inspirational post! I love how you've talked about threading that needle and also showing how stories are about so much more if we look deeper.

    ReplyDelete
  129. So true that connecting with our subjects on an emotional level may not come easily for nonfiction writers. Thanks for your insights.

    ReplyDelete
  130. Connecting the writer, character, and reader through heart! Brilliant!!

    ReplyDelete
  131. So much goes into researching a nonfiction bio, finding a subject that speaks to the heart must be the avenue to falling in love with the project.

    ReplyDelete
  132. Thank you for breaking down how to make real magic happen. Maria Johnson

    ReplyDelete
  133. Thank you for such a thoughtful post about connecting your heart to the people you write about.

    ReplyDelete
  134. Beautiful. Thank you Bethany. Your post touched my heart.

    ReplyDelete
  135. Thank you for your post. I loved your line..."there has to be a "why"—a deep "why for ourselves and our readers!

    ReplyDelete
  136. A wonderfully thought-provoking post. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  137. Wow, now this I printed out to keep retreading. Thank you so much for your wonderful post on connecting heart to your manuscript! This definitely the piece that holds subject, author and reader together!

    ReplyDelete
  138. Things that stood out for me...finding that deep connection, then researching, but finding the "ah ha" moment. THank you!

    ReplyDelete
  139. Very nice post. Great thoughts about being immersed and passionate about your subject.

    ReplyDelete