I love this quote. I found it on Facebook. And it’s truth resonates.
Writing a novel, or any story or article, is hard. And a bit scary
It demands our mind, our will, our determination and yes, even our hearts!
All of my creative juices and emotional energy is demanded when I’m writing a novel. Especially in the final stages when I’m polishing and weaving all of the threads and plot lines together.
The spiritual thread can be one of the hardest and most difficult threads.
It’s easy to quit on this one. Write something that doesn’t scare us a little.
We just have the characters say a few prayers, bow a knee, maybe whisper the name of Jesus, and we’re all good.
Not so much.
The spiritual thread can be the most powerful thread in our story. The depth at which you drive your characters toward spiritual truth impacts every other truth and lie, plot thread, romantic thread in the book.
But we can’t take our stories and characters where we’ve not gone ourselves! #truth1
While at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Indianapolis, I had a quick chat with an agent. “Rachel,” she said, “how can writers deepen their spiritual thread?”
Great question. There are so many spiritual truths that come after salvation. #truth2
The challenge for us as writers is to take the characters to a deeper place.
Salvation is a glorious experience. But really it’s just the beginning. #truth3
Writing a character who already knows and believes in Jesus allows us to take them on a journey of a new truth beyond salvation.
Here’s where we might run into trouble. The idea of a flawed Christian character. They don’t lie. They don’t steal. They don’t hurt people. They live pure and chaste lives.
Yea, makes for boring fiction.
I don’t know about you, but I stumble and sin. As an immature Christian, I denied my sin at times. It took maturing in life and in God to let go of my sin, surrendering my weakness to His strength.
So, can our characters know Jesus but just be immature about their walk with Him?
Could they learn a new truth in the course of the book?
What truth? Well, that has to come from you. And your own walk with God.
We cannot take the characters where we won’t go ourselves.
As we grow spiritually, gain new understanding of God’s Word and truth, then we can weave those elements into our characters and stories.
How do we do that?
1. Hang out with other Believers and ask spiritual questions. Dig deep. Ponder.
2. Ask the Lord deeper questions. I do this a lot. I read something in the Word and I ask, “Hey, help me understand this…” And He does.
3. Be devoted to prayer and the Word, and worship. Widen your worship music repetoire. I get a lot of understand through singing my prayers and singing scripture.
4. Allow yourself time to ponder a more complex spiritual layer. You’ve done it in your own life. It’s there. Just take time to think about it.
5. Think outside the box. Weave in something supernatural. God is after all, supernatural. He’s not restricted to time and space. Write about HIM rather than your character!
What does that look like? Well…
Let’s say your character is a solid Christian on a journey to the planet Isis. Just made that up, right here and now.
While she’s flying through space, she begins to see close up the splendor and majesty of the universe. She’s convinced more than ever of a Divine Creator and she sees God’s care and detail in His creation.
Meanwhile, she is wondering if her journey to planet Isis will be fruitful. Will she be able to bring the supplies to the people in time?
The ship suffers from engine trouble and she, along with the crew, float in space, about to go off course.
But God is a God of detail and administration. (Eph 1) So she takes a day to pray. Or fast. Or voice her belief that God has a direction for them.
The crew rails against her leadership and she’s relieved of her command. Now what?
Dealing with her pain, she looks out the window and sees God’s order. There MUST be an order to her world also and to her mission. She is encourage to fight the good fight.
Now we have a deeper but believable spiritual thread that is not just “salvation” but a growing reality of the majestic God’s presence in our lives.
Just some thought to challenge us all, me included, to walk close to the Lord and hear His voice. Then demonstrate it in our stories.
So, back to the quote picture. Write something that scares you a little. Ponder a spiritual truth that bothers you… see where it leads.
Here’s some advice from agent Amanda Luedeke from MacGregor Literary:
1. Create a spiritual thread about one of the fruits of the spirit.
2. Study the Beatitudes. What spiritual journey can be developed out of Jesus’s message?
3. Don’t assume that a character’s inner arc needs to be huge, or life saving or even eternal. It really can be as simple as the character learning that love is patient and kind, that it does not envy, etc.
4. Take a Sunday morning sermons and then brainstorm how to apply those principles into a spiritual arc for a character. As we go through life as a Christians, many lessons are touched upon during Sunday morning sermons or small group times that make great themes for books.
Love those ideas!
With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novel. A worship leader, board member of ACFW and popular writing teacher, Rachel is the author of over 17 novels. She lives in Florida with her husband and dog.
Contact her at: Rachel@mybooktherapy.com. Her latest release is Once Upon A Prince. Go forth and write!
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