Monday, August 18, 2014

Writing a Story of Hope

It’s such a small word, but it carries HUGE influence.
Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary gave these references for ‘hope’
“to cherish a desire with anticipation”
“to expect with confidence”
“the chance that something good will happen”
“someone or something that may be able to provide help”

Basically hope is that constant glimmer of light in the darkness. The thread of joy in the sorrow. The possibilities in the middle of the pain.
It’s the belief that ‘all is not lost’.
And it’s what every memorable story has within the fibers of its tale.
Last week, America (and possibly the world) was hit with the news of Robin Williams’ passing. I don’t know about you, but I was a big fan of most of his work. What a talent, genius, and….kind man! He was well-known for giving to charities and physically showing up to help and encourage others, but something happened where he lost his hope…and when hope is lost, there is only darkness and despair.

It’s a horribly dark, sad, and desolate place – a place where someone MUST be rescued or they will sink further into their lostness or hardness. They will destroy themselves or others.

That’s why most of the best loved stories of all time are saturated with hope. The real world can be a painful, dark, and debilitating place some times and we all need glimpses of hope to make it to the next day. When we read books of hope, it reminds us of something greater than ourselves, something good and positive. 

We recognize the whispers of peace and happiness coming. We crave the promise that good will prevail.
It’s why we write (and read) the stories we do. There is hope in them. You know what I mean. You’re in the dark moment with your characters (or in the movie) and you think all hope is gone….but deep down you know help is on the way. A rescue is coming. A reunion of lost loves, a last-minute medical miracle, the one thing which makes you keep reading…and believing in goodness, light, and happily-ever-afters.

Why do we crave hopeful stories so much? Well, deep down I think it’s because we all recognize how dark the world can be and how vital hope is for survival. As Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings said, “There is good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”  The ‘good’ is indeed why we write, isn’t it? The good…and the Truth.

As Christians we can provide a bit of the true Hope into the darkness, and as writers, we can show that wonderful hope through STORY. Even many non-Christian authors show elements of Godly hope in their stories – because the Creator sprinkled a little bit of himself at the cornerstone of every human heart, so that we’re all searching for something greater than ourselves – a purpose.
Hope is a vital element of fairytales. All seems lost and then….a fairy godmother shows up, or a prince with a sword, or true love’s kiss. Most of the classics weave the thread of hope throughout their stories. Many times it’s the poor protagonist who has a hopeful journey to something greater than he/she could ever imagine. Modern day movies are splattered with hope too. 

Have you ever watched a movie or read a book where there didn’t seem to be a lot of hope? The movie The Other Boleyn Girl was that kind of movie for me. When the movie ended I felt this overwhelming sadness at the obvious decline of a king. Compare it to a brilliant movie like The King’s Speech, where you’re rooting for the protagonist to succeed, and I left the movie ready to take on the world.

Hope empowers, builds dreamers, brings joy, produces warriors, inspires beauty, evokes compassion, encourages creativity, and motivates perseverance. 

It is also a foundational tool for story building.

Last point: Jesus story is a prime example of hope.

When Christ died and his body was put into the grave, those who had been closest to him were devastated and confused, but if they had listened very carefully they would have heard the faint strains of hope lingering in the words Christ spoke. “I am the resurrection and the life”.
The ultimate hope was born in Christ, and with that same hope inspiring our creativity, we can share it through our stories.
One more quote from Lord of the Rings?

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” – The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers.


Pepper Basham writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She’s a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a mom of five, a speech-language pathologist, and a lover of chocolate. She writes a variety of genres, but enjoys sprinkling her native culture of Appalachia in them all.  She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she works with kids, searches for unique hats to impress her friends, and plots new ways to annoy her wonderful friends on The Alley. She is represented by the amazing Julie Gwinn.


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Hope is one of the most powerful things in the world. Coupled with love, it is practically invincible. :)

Pepper Basham said...

So true, Sherrinda!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

So beautifully said, Pepper. And quite timely. Thanks for being brave :)