Monday, August 31, 2015

The G.O.D. Factor in Fiction

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 :-)

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. Then, as the characters emerge, I ‘look’ at them and ask questions like:

“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?”

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?
As a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Pepper Basham enjoys sprinkling her Appalachian culture into her fiction whenever she can. She’s an award-winning author of both contemporary and historical romances, mom of five, speech-language pathologist, and lover of chocolate. She resides in Asheville, North Carolina with her family. She is represented by Julie Gwinn and her debut novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in April 2015. Her first contemporary romance novel, A Twist of Faith, released in December. You can connect with Pepper on her website at, Facebook- or Twitter at


kaybee said...

Thank you, Pepper. I find if we know our characters well enough, their spiritual threads will emerge naturally. And there always is one, isn't there? And it's always different.
Kathy Bailey

Unknown said...

This is confluence of concepts based upon some divine preference for the number of three. However, I agree that if we are children of God we will write stories with him in view. I write with that in mind most assuredly, however I would add to Genuineness, Organic and Dependable that Conflict is the glue of the three you mention. Sin is our explanation for the conflict between us and God and with others that God places in our lives. Conflict within our own heart, soul and mind wrestles with the conflict we ourselves experience with others or witness in others and jump to judge as wrong or evil. Without conflict in our story, our story cannot be truly genuine, nor will it have a truly organic foundation, nor be dependable (ergo believable). Without conflict man would not find a reason to seek out God, maybe that's why God allows us to experience trials and tribulation in this lifetime, which we prefer to read about rather than personally experience. Sorry for the tirade of thought but every character in our stories must wrestle with conflict to be real for the readers. By the way, in the bible the numbers 3, 7, 10, 12, 40 are all key numbers with significance. But also the number 1 is key too: One God and we should not play on his name as an acronym for our purposes if we claim him as first as foremost in our life. (You do not need to post this but felt inspired to share this with you after reading your post.)

Pepper said...

Good morning!
I'm with you! I've never written a story (so far) where I couldn't see the spiritual theme because I see that 3rd strand of the storyline as super important - God's story.

Thanks for sharing

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Pepper, what a great post. And, for me, figuring out the spiritual thread is always a bit tricky. Your post gives me some good things to think about. :) Thanks for sharing your insights about this aspect of inspirational stories. :)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

My worldview definitely plays a key role in my stories but then again I don't turn a blind eye to the realities of the world and let them unfold as they would in our reality...full of sin and yet saved by grace regardless. I don't tend to be as conservative about those realities of sin has some intend to take a more blunt edge in my writing. There are times when I wonder if those same Christians who gets so worked up about being offended have ever read their bible. Redemption prevails, Grace wins, but the journey there is never pretty. Love this!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

*as some and tend to take a more blunt edge in my writing* sorry!!! Speak to text fail!