Monday, September 27, 2010

A God's Eye POV of Character Development

Pepper here :-)

As many of you know, last weekend I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Indianapolis.
Leave a comment today for a chance to win Making Waves by Lorna Seistland - she was signing books at ACFW!!!!

 Tim Downs was the keynote speaker. His presentations were fabulous – filled with humor, insight, and enough gravity to weigh your heart down to your shoes. In a very good way.

Seriously. He challenged us.

So it got me to thinking. That’s right. Me. Thinking. Are you scared yet? ;-)

One of the elements which make for a fabulous story is the ensemble of characters in a book. The mesh of various personalities.

Is your heroine memorable? Your hero?

How about the way they blend together, your whole cast, to bring about the journey you started on page one?

Characters are important, vital, the heartbeat of a novel– a masterpiece of the author’s skill, creativity, and design. Each one serves a specific purpose within the grand scheme of your novel. You shouldn’t just toss in Cousin Melville unless he has something to contribute to the overall story. He’s strategically placed.

Just like you and me from God’s POV.

Each character He’s placed in His story is specifically designed to serve a purpose. All parts of the body of His best prose.

In the writing industry we hear so much about…

What editors want for their publishing houses?

Where publishing trends are heading?

Which rules to keep and which ones to break.

How to create memorable characters, page turning plots, and meaningful conflict –

And all of those hold important places in making us better writers who write compelling stories…

But at the bottom of it all, of our writing and our lives, there is one simple truth:

We are called to glorify God.

From the words of our mouths to the ones that flow from our fingertips – we have a unique calling. We are all characters in a massive story, a saga from the beginning of time. In this compilation of dramas, comedies, tragedies, and adventures, there is the scarlet ink of God’s redemption stamped on each page – within each soul. It marks us, motivates us, and modifies our thinking.

And we can’t help but express it. Not if we understand what that red-stained hope really means.

If we view ourselves from the vantage point of God’s creation, characters developed for a specific purpose in His story, then it changes the way we live AND the way we write.

The bottom line is that the attitudes of our hearts guides the direction of our pens


Our perspectives influence the choices in our keystrokes

Who we believe God is – and how we see ourselves within His world directs everything we do.

To say it from a Biblical POV, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks…” (or writes).

And this overflow may come out in an overt way, splashing onto the pages of our novels through Bible verses and conversion scenes – or it may weave its way subtly through the message of our books, barely noticeable except to a reader who is ready to ‘see’ it.

We are each uniquely gifted to make an impression on the people God brings into our lives in the flesh, or vicariously through our writing.

And in God’s story, no one is a minor character. Some may end up being recognizable names like David, Peter, Mary, or Paul – and others names we may never know, but they are strategically placed in God’s story to fulfill a mighty purpose in a quiet way. Just like the characters we write.

Stories are the same way. Some will SCREAM of God’s redemption – shouting for the sinner to find hope in Jesus, but others will woo with words and paint pictures through stories, without one overt mention of the salvation plan.

And God will use them both – for His glory.

God’s characters are all paged together for the perfect story, all moving the story forward to its climactic and glorious ending ;-)

At the ACFW banquet, author Janette Oke called our books “paper missionaries”. I like that, because missionaries know, as the rest of us should understand, the call to change someone’s character isn’t up to us – but the AUTHOR of that character’s life. Only the creator of that character can truly change him/her.

In the grand story of life –

We may write the words

but God writes the heart.

What's some of the best writing advice that's ever reprioritized your writing?


Regina Merrick said...

Thank you, my friend. What a great wrap-up of such a meaningful conference. I came away feeling like I knew my characters BETTER, if that's possible, and it's for sure I knew myself better. Great post, Pepper!

Pepper said...

Thanks, Regina.
It was meaningful - and made me realize how much more my writing was a ministry, not just a hobby :-)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Amen! I have nothing else to add. :-)

Susan Anne Mason said...

Wow, Pepper. You sure have a way with words! Good thing you're a writer. LOL.

Lovely post with lovely pictures. Thanks for sharing insights from your time at the conference. I really appreciated it, especially all the pictures.

Would love a chance to win Lorna's book - it's on my wish list! How wonderful that you got to meet her! Were you walking around star-struck meeting all the fantastic authors? I know I would be.


sbmason (at) sympatico (dot) ca

Casey said...

Writer for the Audience of One.

'Nuff said.

Well, except great post. Perfect way to start my rewrites today. :)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

That was a lovely that I needed to hear! You definitely have a way with words and are blessed by the One you write for!

Pepper said...

Susan & Sarah,
So glad to 'see' you here. Thanks for the kind words. I was incredibly humbled by my time at ACFW- it was a good reminder of why I do what I do.

Pepper said...

Thanks Case & Sherrinda

Laura Frantz said...

Pepper and gang, I always LOVE the FRESHNESS of your posts!! And you've recalled such meaningful, heartfelt things from Indy. Don't know where I was but I completely missed Janette Oke saying we are paper missionaries at the banquet! Love that:)I completely agree. You're so wise to remind us to keep God's glory at the forefront of every word we write. My head is still swimming from all the learning, connecting, and awe of all that the Lord was doing there. I'm going to spotlight you all here at TWA and another up and coming writer (soon to be author) on my blog soon so please stay tuned...

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Awww, aren't you sweet, Laura! We would be soooo honored to be mentioned by YOU! You are like...famous!!!!!

And isn't Pepper a wonderful thinker? You can tell God's Spirit oozes through her. :)

Pepper said...

LAURA!!! Oh I just love you!!
Thanks for stopping by - and that little phrase by Janette Oke really touched me. It made what I do as a Christian writer even more powerful and beautiful and humbling.
You do that through your writing, for sure.

Pepper said...

Sherrinda still loves me even though I freaked her out today.
You're awesome, Sherrinda.
Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Awesome post, Pepper. A word from Kenneth Copeland has stayed with me all my life from my nursing days thru my writing days. He talks about getting on a plane to go to a conference in Australia. He arrives..the conference has been cancelled. He flies back and on the plane chats with a fellow and there begins a divine appointment. Being obedient in my writing isn't about the destination or even about the's about being faithful and trusting that God has a plan and the one person you meet by divine appointment is just as important as a room full of writing fans or a line of readers waiting to buy your book.

Pepper said...

Amen, Tina.

And thanks for stopping by.

Cynthia Ruchti said...

What a wonderful post and great comments! Thanks for letting me read over your shoulders, everyone. The ACFW conference was incredibly memorable for me too.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I didn't catch your post on Monday...incredibly busy day from start to finish, but I made sure to stop by today and am glad I did.
Your post was an inspiration and pulled us back to a necessary focus.
Thanks :)

Patsy said...

Love the pictures you posted. I love flying anyway. Your article was very encouraging. Thanks for giving away a copy of Making Waves.Looking forward to reading it.

Renee said...

Your post reminds me of one of my favorite verses--"And in Your book were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them." (Ps. 139:16) That verse, too, makes me think of God as an author.

Long ago, He penned the story of our lives, choosing conflicts and themes and supporting characters to best suit each of us.

reneeasmith61 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Michelle said...

I'm not a "writer", but I enjoyed your post, Pepper.

Thanks for offering a copy of Making Waves! I've read so many wonderful things about the book!

scraphappy71 at sbcglobal dot net

karenk said...

pepper, i enjoyed reading all of your postings about your recent conference...thanks for sharing...and thanks for the opportunity to read this fabulous novel.

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Pepper said...

Wow, what a great turnout. I'm so glad this touched people. Cynthia, thanks for stopping by. Your presentation (and prayers) at ACFW were beautiful.

Pepper said...

So glad this ministered to you. I need to refocus at least 200 times a day. Life can really distract us from our biggest calling :-)

Pepper said...

Beautiful verse and lovely reminder. Isn't it nice to know the 'author' of our lives loves us so much that no matter what comes our way - we are safe within that love.

Pepper said...

Michelle & Patsy,
You're in the drawing.
It was a wonderful book!!

Pepper said...

Thanks, Karen
The trip was better than I imagined. I hope God provides a way for me to go back next year.
You're int he drawing to be announced on the weekend edition

Martha Eskuchen said...

I am not an author but I loved your sharing of perspective here. I try to always remember that what talents we have were provided by our wonderful Creator and we should all be serving others. I'm glad you had a good time at the conference. The photo is very cool.