I was listening to the radio today after dropping off my kids at school and heard the DJs relating a celebrity blunder followed by a “bless her heart” filled commentary. If you live in Texas (or in lots of places in the South I imagine), you have probably heard this phrase more than a time or two. And you’ve probably said it. “Oh, bless her heart.”
“Bless her heart!” (or his heart, their hearts, etc) crops up a lot when someone has said or done something we think is kinda dumb, like that crazy friend who can’t resist saying every thought that comes into her head, however foolish. You might just shake your head and say, “She told that police officer she was only speeding because she was late, bless her heart.” Or you might hear what your brother told his wife during a fight and say “Bless his heart” since you know he isn’t getting out of that doghouse anytime soon.
Of course, saying “Oh, Bless Their Hearts” isn’t limited to doing or saying something not so smart. In truth it can be used to cover all manner of sins or to avoid revealing how you really feel. I’m not a hater, but there is plenty of hating over the Twilight star, Kristen Stewart. I’ve described to my oldest son a reason I have heard for why people don’t like her. She only has one expression, bless her heart. When Grandma tells the same story for the hundredth time, but you smile and nod anyway, you might tell you sister about it later. “She told the spaghetti and meatballs story again, bless her heart.” When I heard what happened to Jimmy Fallon (his ring evulsion accident – beware if you google that), I felt awful for him. “Bless His Heart” that he is having to go through that but also for having to explain that it happened tripping on his rug.
You get the point, blessing someone’s heart is a thing. What does that have to do with writing you might ask? I started thinking about how common the saying can be, but also why it comes up. We are all flawed. We are human so we all make mistakes. Our characters should have some “Bless his heart” moments.
Maybe our characters accidentally say or do something kinda stupid. Maybe they witness other characters having a “Bless Their Hearts” moment. Perhaps the blunder causes the conflict. Maybe a leading man’s “Bless his heart” moment makes him more relatable to the reader or to others in the story.
I would issue a word of caution in using these moments too often or in too big a way because we wouldn’t want to make our character “too dumb to live” as our fearless leader, Amanda, might say. We need to know the character has some sense enough to make it interesting and believable.
A fun writing prompt might be to create a scene where your main character or a side character or a new character experiences of “Bless his heart” moment. It should be fun to play around with and maybe will lead to something you can use!
Have you written a “Bless her heart” moment for one of your characters? What was the purpose? Plot? Humor? Relatability? Or do you just say this all the time and want to share a time you used it? Please feel free to share in the comments.
Thanks for reading & have a great week. 🙂