A Question on Writing Part Two
Well, here I am writing about writing again. 🙂 For those who haven’t read the first post, a friend of mine recently asked me several questions on writing. In the last post, I answered the first question and gave advice for writing historical fiction. While I am definitely not an expert on any of this, I will try now to give my two cents worth on the next topic: “I’m trying my best to add some inspirational stuff in the story but I’m having a hard time doing so. I want the character’s faith to be a big part of the story.”
This one was very, very difficult for me. Why? Because, for me, the spiritual condition of my characters is the most important aspect of any work of fiction I write. But I do believe that there’s a fine line between including a character’s spiritual struggles and journey in your story, and over-preaching to the reader. The last thing I would ever want is for someone to be turned off to Christianity or repulsed by it after reading one of my books, but it is usually a big part of my story line.
I think the first step you need to consider when developing your character’s spiritual journey is this: Is my character starting the book as a Christian or not? If not, figuring out the plot line is pretty simple, and I will discuss it in a minute. But if your character is beginning and ending the book as a believer, careful considerations must be made.
For starters, no character can finish a book exactly the way he or she was when the book started. He must be changed in some way. So if your character starts of as a Christian, no matter how strong, he must be a stronger Christian by the time the story is completed. There are several different ways of accomplishing this that I can think of off the top of my head. First, maybe your character struggles with something during the course of the book that challenges his faith or causes him to stumble. There are so many things that could do this. Death, sickness, family or financial struggles… And after battling these obstacles for some time, the light of God’s word or the influence of godly Christians around him cause him to overcome these trials and grow stronger in his walk with the Lord.
Another way for a Christian to develop in a story is for him to grow in his own faith through witnessing to someone else. Maybe there is another character in the story who is angry at God or curious about Christianity. By helping lead that person to Christ, your main character may also grow stronger in his own convictions.
But if your character starts of the book as a non-believer, well, the only happy conclusion I can think of is for him to come to Christ! 🙂 Let this take place however you wish it. It can happen at the beginning of the book, and the plot can revolve around strengthening his new faith. Or it can be a long and hard struggle with the flesh, before he finally turns to God for salvation two chapters before the end.
Be creative, and think of your own personal spiritual struggles! In my book Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words (coming out next March!), my main character Allie is upset and resistant to God after the death of her mother. When I was writing the toughest scenes, immediately following her mother’s death, I kept thinking back to the way I felt a few years earlier when a close relative had passed away. I was a Christian and Allie was not, but I still felt and wondered a lot of the same things. Why did people have to die? What was God’s purpose in taking away those we loved? But through prayer and careful study of God’s word, my faith in His sovereignty grew stronger, and I was able to translate what I had learned into the development of my character’s struggles and spiritual walk.
Hope this helped, and check back for part three!