Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How A Writer's Vulnerability Can Change the World

"It was a long day. Stressful. My boss, yeah, she criticized me. I went home after five to an empty apartment and threw something in the microwave. While waiting for my food, I picked up this book..."

"I read the first page because the story looked good."

"After finishing the story, I realized I no longer felt the same about...."

Vulnerable in our writing:

Writing story is so much more than enabling the reader to feel the same emotions you once felt or taking the reader to the place you once went.

Writing story creates a metamorphosis. In a well written story, the writer allows their past and present to morph into power-infused words spilled on the page. These words, saturated with emotionally heart wrenching, exhilarating, humorous, and transformed experiences have proven to change lives. 

Well written stories: 
Rouse resolves. 
Create and enhance fears. 

This can ONLY happen when a writer is vulnerable with readers. 


1. Transparency 

Yes, transparency is risky. The doors of our heart have restricted access, no admittance without prior approval. Writing the truth can set us up for criticism. But in story, we can give these genuine feelings to other characters. The what ifs can happen. The MC can go there, knowing the risks and commitments involved.

Transparency allows for expression of bizarre ideas. The ideas, oddly enough, have turned into actual inventions. For example:  
   *Rockets to the moon (Jules Verne, Journey to the Moon and Back). 
   *Cell phones (Star Trek). 
   *Computer virus (Shockwave Rider, by John Brunner, 1970's author) not the best invention, eh?
   *Atomic power (The World Set Free, by H.G. Wells)  
   *The TASER  (invented by Jack Cover, a huge fan of the Tom Swift novels.  It actually stands for Thomas A. Swift Electric 

2. Be assertive about which story you write

Writing a story takes passion. The story in your heart is the seed that will blossom into the story that can change many people. Change, BTW, can mean something as simple as soothe, preparing the reader to face another day at work, etc. Trust yourself to be the writer God has called you to be.

3. You need strength to suffer

Days of misery come. Sometimes it doesn't seem like the situation will end. Stories can can give the strength to suffer through another day. Sometimes knowing someone else (real or fictional) is going through a similar experience, or has overcome a similar trial helps empower us to try or endure another day. Characters MUST suffer real hardships. Their feelings MUST be, not just seem to be, real. Their dilemma, consequences, victories MUST ring true.

4. Be real--then readers will listen

Carol Kent, author and speaker, said, "If you are vulnerable with readers, you will give them the courage to do what they couldn't do." Inundate story with showing. Jesus showed truths in so many ways. First, he lived out loud. Second, he used stories the people would understand to convey the truth. These are written that we may believe, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. John 20:31 Choose intentional actions in your story. Actions that are powerful even in simplicity.

A fictional male character went to his apartment alone. He didn't bother to turn on the light. She was not there. Her dresses would never be worn again, not even his favorite. Her perfume would remain in the bottle forever. She'd never laugh or touch his skin again. His head lowered, supported by his hands, his elbows wedged on his knees. Fire pounded in his head like lightening piercing, stabbing, ripping everything he was. Her tears would never moisten his shoulder. They'd murdered his wife, the only one he ever loved.

The above is my retelling, a condensed version of a masterpiece written by a male author who clearly poured his heart on a page through the eyes of his male fictional character. I don't know what inspired the author, but after reading the three-page heart wrenching response to hearing his wife had been murdered, I understood his experience and can now better know how a man feels. The character was an agent, who spent the rest of the story solving the crime. The author's choice to include the character's response before solving the crime truly made the story real. 

Our hardships are not hidden. God sees them. He provides so many ways for us to show His love and compassion to each is vulnerability in story which can sometimes display a combustion of emotions.

Consider how you can be vulnerable to your readers. What has happened in your life that has given you a first-hand understanding and a unique ability to convey that moment through story?

**Top Photo by Mary Vee, taken at Mt. Hermon, California

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Rock climbing, white-water rafting, zip lining, and hiking top Mary's list of great ways to enjoy a day. Such adventures can be found in her stories as well.

Mary writes young adult mystery/suspense, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and tell Bible event stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids. She has finaled in several writing contests.

Visit Mary at her websiteblog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter

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Anonymous said...

All SO important. :) So love this post--and I just have to send a thank you shout-out to all the Alley Cats for exhibiting vulnerability in what you all share here. It impacts more than you know. <3

Kelly Liberto said...

Great post Mary~ thanks for the lift you gave me today!

Robin E. Mason said...

as writers we have to be transparent and vulnerable. it shows in the writing if we're not and weakens the story, it's contrived instead of real—even if it is fiction!

Mary Vee Writer said...

What a kind thing to say.
This is a calling, and we take it seriously. Sure is nice when others can tell.

You are an encourager.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I'm so glad you joined us. And to be told a post helped someone is a high compliment. Thanks!!

Mary Vee Writer said...

I agree. Completely. We may try our best, research our best...but being open is genuine and shows. Thanks so much for joining us today. Love chatting with you.