Where Readers & Writers Connect
Some call it ‘edgy’ but I’ve come to prefer ‘authentic’. Just what am I talking about, you may ask? I’m referring to characterization. Whether I’m reading a book or writing one, I want the characters to be authentic. If the characters are believable, then chances are the whole story will be too. I try to develop as much background information as possible for my characters so that I understand their motivation, their inner workings, and their reasons (or lack thereof) for acting and reacting the way they do.
I’ve found, however, that as an author who also writes from a Christian worldview, I have sometimes been faced with a dilemma when developing realistic characters. You see, human beings in general are innately flawed. We’re sinful, selfish creatures and even after conversion, most people still struggle with what the apostle Paul called ‘the flesh’. Admit it. You know it’s true.
And therein lies the problem. Some readers prefer their Christian fiction to be squeaky clean, while others, like myself, prefer the characters – even the good Christian ones – to be realistic in their struggles with the flesh. I’ve been dubbed part of the growing ‘edgy Christian’ camp when it comes to my writing style, which is okay with me since I think it best suits my work. Although my writing is not graphic, it does portray a somewhat more realistic view of the struggle that many people face with their old sinful natures, Christian or not.
My latest book PLAY IT AGAIN is the story of a young woman caught up in the 1980s rock and roll scene who has an unexpected encounter with an older, ‘respectable’ man. Both come to the relationship with lots of baggage, hers because of her upbringing as well as past abusive relationships, and his because of a failed marriage and what he sees as hypocrisy within the Christian church. The real crux of the story is the fact that God doesn’t expect people to come to Him after they’ve already cleaned up their lives. He takes people just as they are, and for many, change doesn’t come over night – it’s a process. This realistic portrayal of the two main characters is one aspect of the book that I think readers appreciate. They have not been airbrushed with the gospel, but continue to wrestle with God and with each other.
Most of this article was originally posted as a ‘guest post’ on ‘All-on Writing’, a blog by author Shawn Lamb.
You may also read it in its entirety at http://www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.com/2012/04/believable-characters-in-christian.html