Monday, June 24, 2013

The G.O.D. Factor - A Three Chord Strand

Three is a pretty special number. 
In fact – it’s used a LOT

3 Stooges

3 Little Pigs

3 French Hens

3 Blind Mice

3 points on a triangle

A trilogy

3 is important. Even for God.

The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit J

But how does it play out in our novels? 
Well, in most of our novels there are two main characters, but in Christian fiction there is an ‘invisible’ third.


So I’m going to chat today about the God factor in your fiction.

Since we are Christians, our worldview tends to be different (or it ought to be) so that difference automatically comes out in our writing. But how?

Here are some aspects of this G.O.D. factor in your fiction.

Does your story have G.O.D. in it? J

1.       Genuineness – or plausibility. Is the spiritual thread believable? Have you created a spiritual arc which presents the truth of the Gospel in a believable way with your characters? Your story?

This one will go hand-in-hand with #2.

Siri Mitchell does this extremely well in her historical novel, Love’s Pursuit. In the beginning, the Puritan heroine would not just up and leave her community to go with this heretical man – but the pull of faith and wealth of questions posed to her along the storyline, makes her end choice believable. Are you characters making believable spiritual choices?

2.       Organic – Does it flow naturally from your story? From your characters?

The way God works with his people is a beautiful conundrum of generically-the-same and mysteriously unique.

Not everyone has the same ‘story’ of salvation. Not every relationship or sermon connects to our hearts the same way. Why should it with your characters?

Because God’s gifts to his kids are specific to THEM, then His way of touching and shaping their lives will be different too. God’s whisper to a quiet, more timid character may shake in complete opposition to his ‘shout’ in a bolder, more extroverted character’s life.

He may have asked both Andrew and Saul-turned-Paul to ‘follow him’, but the way in which he called them was uniquely set for their circumstances and their personalities. Paul needed a slap, not a nudge.

3.       Dependable – or consistent? Do you keep the amount of your spiritual thread consistent throughout the story? Is it all housed within one area? The middle? The end? Do you keep it light throughout? Subtle throughout or is your thread deeper and more overt?

I’ve been surprised in books before where God’s name emerged on the last page, but he wasn’t mentioned (or even alluded to) in any other part of the book. Whether overt or covert, the spiritual thread should be consistently interwoven.

Some of us are going to write the Christian thread in an overt manner. Some in a more subtle manner; And others will weave it in with barely a hint. None of them are right or wrong, but each is as unique as the way God touches our own lives.

In my novels, the spiritual thread is my focal point. 

Characters start dancing in my head along with a story question. I think of internal/external motivations, but, as the characters emerge, I ‘look’ at them and ask these questions too:

“What does God want to do in your life?”

“What is a need in your life that only God can fill?”

“How can God use the hero/heroine to be His fingerprints in your life to meet your need or heal your wounds?”

But not every Christian writer takes this focus. Their spiritual thread may shock them as they write the novel, or readers may tell them later of the spiritual thread they didn't even know they had written about in their stories. Again, God is a BIG God – he’s using us for our good and his glory, right?

So…what do you think? Is the G.O.D. factor important to you in your writing or in the books that you read? Everybody has a worldview – does yours make a difference in your novels?


Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Awesome stuff here, Pep! As usual!

Angie Dicken said...

This is GREAT, Pepper! I am one to be more overt with my spiritual message...although, I like reading subtle threads and hope to achieve that in a book or two! :) I get very turned off when a book is not consistent with the spiritual thread, or when it seems to be an afterthought.

Unknown said...

Awesome stuff!! That organic piece especially...I love it when a spiritual theme is woven in so seamlessly it doesn't even necessarily stand out at first as a theme as much as simply an outgrowth of the story and the journey the characters are on...if that makes any sense.

Love all three G.O.D. tips. :)

Ruth Douthitt said...

Great stuff! I tend to be more subtle with the spiritual things of God since I write fantasy adventure, however, I do plan on writing a Christian contemporary romance soon and this post will help. Thanks!

Pepper said...

Thanks, Ames!

Pepper said...

I think I might write with a more extroverted flare, but not 'preachy'. What do you think?

Pepper said...

You just described the perfect scenario! Organic is my main focus when I write, or at least I hope it comes across that way! :-)
Thanks for stopping by

Pepper said...

I'm much more subtle in my fantasy and spec fic novels - though my spec is more obvious than my fantasy.
clapping hands for the fantasy writers!! :-)

Pepper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angie Dicken said...

Definitely not write with a passion and it is presented in a powerful way! Wow, I have been into alliteration lately. ;)

Ashley Clark said...

Pepper, I SO love this post! Chills. Really, I think the three strand thing is such a powerful idea. Often we just sweep the Christian elements of our books under the mat, when they should be organically driving the whole story. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Wow! What an insightful post. I like the God Factor in a novel - and you don't have to beat people over the head to employ it.

Tiffany Jane said...

loved this! The unique or organicness is what I aspire to in my writing

Mary Vee Writer said...

Love your post, Pepper.
I especially appreciate writers who allow God to flow through their words.
It doesn't take a master.
Simply one who is in tune with the Father.

Elaine Fraser said...

Thank you so much for sharing this post. i love your description of the GOD factor. You have nailed it!