I love reading about small kindnesses. Grand gestures can have a profound impact on a reader, but I hold a deep soft spot for the little touches, the small moments of shared humanity.
Even in dark plots and darker events, moments where I can see characters do well by one another pull me more fully and happily into the story.
In my own life, it is not always the grand gestures that I remember, but the small moments where someone gave me a meal or helped me with a heavy load or explained something that confused me.
I treasure these moments in my own memories and whenever I see something like this in the story, it creates a moment of empathetic remembrance in my head.
I love writers who recognize the importance of small kindnesses and the profound or not-profound impact they can have on characters.
There is no need to dwell on these moments, and indeed they are often more powerful as a passing event.
Surely if we can fantasize about dragons and time travel and worlds without shrimp we can imagine more worlds where there are people who can gift a moment of unthinking kindness?
I enjoy stories where characters treat one another with respect, even if one of the characters comes across as foolish or silly.
While I enjoy sarcasm and witty comebacks, there is something profoundly refreshing about seeing people talk to one another as if they care about one another’s thoughts and feelings.
I do not think that fiction always needs to be a perfect model of the world we live in, although I think that fiction is tremendously valuable as a sideways mirror to our own lives and values.
However, when I escape into a world of mystery or fantasy or far-flung planets, sometimes I like to hope that the good has followed as well as the bad.
I have a great weakness for fundamental decency. I am always looking for more stories that involve fundamentally decent characters.
I play around with kindness and its expectations and problems in my own writing. If you’d like to see those ideas, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, is available here.