The Story Behind the Story Part 4
Part Four-Bringing Faith into the Picture
Many times, I think it's easy for a reader to form preconceived notions on what a Christian novel is supposed to be. To some, it might just be a "cleaner read" avoiding excessive violence, cursing, and sexual content. To others, it may require a specific gospel message or in depth spiritual insight, or perhaps just represent certain faith based principles without mentioning specific "religious" viewpoints. As I mentioned before, I've always been an avid reader. I've read a number of Christian novels of various genres, as well as secular, and even if I wasn't fond of the story itself, I always gleaned some type of insight. I did find myself wishing for more of a variety of exciting, realistic reads in which characters were real about their faith, or lack thereof, and the story still flowed naturally. I found in many of the more action based novels, the faith aspect was lacking, while those that incorporated in a more typical gospel message or were more blatant about faith in general lacked depth in the storyline or characters.
One of my goals when I first started writing The New Waiver was to not be mechanical in my incorporation of faith. Just like I designed each character to have their own story and personality, I wanted their faith and beliefs or lack thereof to reflect them as individuals. How one character shares his or her faith or views the world in the story may be totally different than another. I strove not to push a gospel message through the story, but instead let my characters share their faith and and beliefs as their personal stories were revealed. Consistent with my overall story development, I didn't choose a certain time and way characters would share their faith or get saved or even who would and who wouldn't, but again, I just let it unfold and happen with the story in the midst of all the other crazy events and mysteries going on. After all, isn't that also how it goes in real life?
Beyond salvation itself, I wanted to provide way more depth to each Christian character's journey in his or her faith. Often times I've found that Christian based works seem to center around and highlight salvation as the ultimate goal and end of the struggle. Don't get me wrong, it truly should be a major highlight as I believe it is the most important step in a person's life, but rather than using it as the climax or ending of the story, I wanted to highlight it as a new beginning in each character's life. Many of the trials and struggles, both internally and externally, that my Christian characters face throughout the story are encountered after their salvation. Each has his or her own set of problems and must determine how to appropriately deal with them, trusting and relying on each other and Christ.
Another thing I kept in mind was the personal backgrounds of each character and his or her own baggage and rough past. To just assume the ones that are saved or get saved suddenly understand biblical truths and doctrines and instantly know how to live out a perfectly Christian life would be absurd. They are left on their own to seek for answers about life, either through searching scripture or asking counsel of others. As a result, I incorporated in a number of scriptures and passages into the work as characters explored and learned in the midst of all the stress and turmoil.
Ultimately, it is my hope as a writer that I was able to create a realistic story that incorporated in thought provoking questions, biblical doctrine, and most of all encouragement to those struggling with various issues or past traumas in their own lives. The amazing part about it all, and the aspect of writing that I least expected when I began, was how it would affect and influence my own life. In my next and final post, My Personal Journey, I'll discuss how writing The New Waiver impacted my own life on multiple levels.