Faith, part 3

» Posted on Feb 28, 2007 in Blog | Comments Off on Faith, part 3

One of the things we must be careful about is being too preachy. You don’t need to hit the reader with a 2 by 4 to get your point across. This is where you want to show your characters living their faith in a natural way. They need help, they pray to God for help. They are wrestling with a problem and they ask the Lord for guidance. Something good happens, they thank God. They live their faith. This can speaks volumes to a reader and cannot be stressed enough. A note here, however. That does not mean your characters are perfect. Christ is the only one who walked this earth who was perfect. You need to show a Christian struggling with his human flaws. How does his faith help him when he falters? What about temptation? It’s natural to be tempted and have to make a choice whether to give in to the temptation or to stand firm. My hero in Vanished buys a bottle of liquor and contemplates taking his first drink in five years in his hour of need. In the end it’s his faith in the Lord that keeps him from taking that drink. That enables him to go on and solve the kidnapping case. What I love about Christian fiction is showing how we can use our faith to overcome our shortcomings and make us a better person. Exploring the flaws and temptations add depth to your character.

So how do you show the character’s spiritual growth? One way is through internal thoughts. This can be in the form of a prayer, a struggle where he/she comes to grip with a problem, especially one that involves the character’s faith.

Another way to show a character’s faith journey is through conversation. When you get to know another, you will talk about things that mean a lot to you. Or you will talk about a problem you are having. This can lead to a discussion about the Lord and how He can affect your life. This is often between the hero and heroine, but it doesn’t always have to be. It can be two friends sharing a moment or a concern. The protagonist turning to a mentor can be another way. It can be a parent and child. The key is to integrate the Lord’s power, wisdom and love into the story. Using them to resolve the conflicts in the book makes the faith an integral part of the plot, so that if you removed it, the story
wouldn’t work. It would lose its richness that make our books so unique and touching. Our stories are a celebration of the Lord. Our books are a celebration of the power of His love.

I believe the key here is to weave in the faith element in a realistic, natural way. Look at your own faith journey to guide you. There is a little bit of me in every book I write. I think we are the blessed ones because we are able to use our faith to strengthen our characters, enrich our stories and add depth to our heroes and heroines.

To summarize an inspirational romance must deal with the faith journeys of its hero and heroine and occasionally a secondary character. Each character can be in a different place in that journey, often at odds over where they stand in their relationship with the Lord. That doesn’t always have to be the case, though. A writer can show how the hero and heroine’s faith helps and guides them through their problems, through the doubts that assail a character when he deals with a conflict that test his faith. The faith element should be intertwined with a character’s goals, motivation and/or conflicts. When coming up with your hero and heroine, don’t forget to think through and develop their faith and how it will affect your story and interactions with the other characters as well as each other. You can show the faith journey in your story through conversations and internal thoughts. But be careful not to be too preachy. Make it a natural and realistic part of the character’s life.