Heart and Soul, by Kait Carson

Tonight is the full moon. What does that have to do with hearts? What does anything have to do with hearts? Love blossoms under the full moon. So do werewolves who strike fear in the heart. The heart is the seat of love, yet it is a muscle that is subject to attack. Does love go away when the heart fails and is replaced. I think not.

We say someone has heart. We all know people who have good hearts. People who put their heart into the family. People who put their heart into their work. We’ve heard of full hearts. And most of us have suffered heartbreak, and survived. What does it all mean? And why is the heart the seat of so many emotions and phrases?

To get to the heart of the matter, and this is only my two cents of course, I think it is because the heart is more or less the center of the body. It is the mechanism that makes everything else work. If the heart stops…

In the movie Dirty Dancing. Patrick Swayze tells Jennifer Grey that the tango is like a heartbeat. He takes her hand and places it over his heart and together they count his heartbeats. “Ca chung, ca chung”, Like a heartbeat,” he says. To me, that was the sexiest scene in the movie. I felt my heartbeat right along with his.

That’s my definition of heart. If someone can make you feel an emotion, they have heart. The character can be in a movie. A character you know is created, but for that brief moment, they have you. You are in the palm of their hand. It can happen in a book. I recently cited the Little Prince on another blog. My copy of that wonderful book is so annotated and dog-eared that the pages are practically parchment. In it, Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s fox tells the Little Prince the secret. ‘It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’

What is essential is invisible. That is heart. The best of us. The inner voice, our sixth sense. If we try and fail, but did our best, we have heart. If we try to measure our lives by acts of secret or overt kindness, we have heart. If we have empathy with friends and strangers, we have heart. Heart is the fourth dimension of our characters. It’s what keeps readers interested in them and what brings them back to a series or an author.

Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden had heart. Sky King had heart. Miss Kitty and Marshall Dillon had heart. Heart made each of them real, even though we knew they never existed. For us, they did. Gandhi and his daughter both had heart. Jimmy Carter has heart. My best friends, Darlene and Judi have heart. My boss, Richard, has heart.

What characters, real, literary, or cinematic have heart for you? Are you more inclined to follow characters and friends who have heart?

You can reach Kait at facebook.com/kait.carson.1, twitter at @kaitcarson, or on her webpage at http://www.kaitcarson.com.

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Author: kaitcarson

I write mysteries set in South Florida. The Hayden Kent series is set in the Florida Keys. Hayden is a SCUBA diving paralegal who keeps finding bodies. Underwater, no one can hear you scream! Catherine Swope is a Miami Realtor with a penchant for finding bodies in the darndest places. I live in an airpark in Fort Denaud, FL with my husband, six cats and three birds. And oh yes, a Piper Cherokee 6 in the hangar!

14 thoughts on “Heart and Soul, by Kait Carson”

  1. Great post. My list is way too long: Zoe Chambers/Pete Adams, Jane Ryland, The Jackal (Frederick Forsyth’s book – even though he’s the bad guy), Westley from The Princess Bride, the main core of Harry Potter — so many.

    I think you’re really close. The heart was always the center of the body. The brain was always described as detached, logical. But the heart *knows* – somehow, working on instinct maybe.

    And yes, that was a terribly sexy scene. 🙂

  2. Thanks Mary. I know what you mean about the list – I could take up pages citing characters with heart! It’s so hard to describe, but something you know immediately.

  3. I love all the responses, and that heart comes through in the best and longest lived of fictional characters (although I personally have no doubt that Holmes and Watson roamed the landscape – but then, I believe in dragons! I wanted to get a photo of the Swayze/Gray scene – I only found one and it wasn’t free rights. Can you believe it, the hottest scene in the last 20 years, and there’s so few photos!

  4. Love this so much. I’d read Le Petit Prince many years ago and had forgotten the saying. Thank you for the reminder. When the character has heart and that emotion is conveyed to the reader, the reader steps into the character’s shoes and feels.

  5. This line resonated with me: “If someone can make you feel an emotion, they have heart.” Isn’t that the point of fiction?

    Just watched “Into the Woods,” and the confrontational scene between the witch and Rapunzel was brilliant with heart. I felt so sorry for the witch!

  6. Two Days, One Night? Netflix? We have similar taste in movies. I’ll have to check it out. I love it when the fourth wall goes away in books, plays or movies and I’m living with the characters.

  7. Oh yes! That scene from Dirty Dancing says it all! And there are so many folks in our lives that indeed have heart…

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