Girls Write Out
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
We, as people, have been faced with the same temptations as those characters of the Bible. One time, I remember having a conversation with a writing teacher, and she said that I couldn't write a Bible story set in a different time because people of 1850 California weren't the same as Biblical people. Times were different. I'll admit, times were different. Rules were different. But that is setting. People don't essentially change. 

We can identify with the characters of the Bible because their emotions are timeless-- How would you like to be the dull-eyed sister married to a man in love with your hot sister? Yeah, being Leah doesn't get any easier with time. If you put it in modern times, your husband is cheating with your sister. Think of the betrayal there, the emotions. They don't get easier.

 I like to ask the question of my characters, what would make her act out of character? What could break her?

 This weekend, I watched "Jude the Obscure" -- Thomas Hardy is my favorite writer, but if you don't know this story, it is pretty dark. Jude Fawley (Folly) is a religious man of character -- who falls prey to the neighborhood harlot, then ends up living with another unconventional woman he loves, without the benefit of marriage. He does all of these things because he's a man of character who wants to do "the right thing." 

For years, he and his false wife are chaste, though no one believes that and Jude knows it -- he doesn't care what people think, only that God knows his truth. Hardy makes us believe in the character of Jude and his slow demise is believable because of the small steps that lead one into sin -- even when done with the right intentions.

 If you're writing your current book, what would make them do something totally against type? How do you get them there? A lot of times it's the way God gets us to a different place. Life breaks us apart, and we must build back up.

 My current book I started with the feeling that so many young people have today. They don't want to be married because they've watched their parents divorce. Marriage scares them. I wanted to take that a step further. What if you grew up in an abusive household? What if your parents never did divorce, but your mother thought God hated divorce, so she kept you in dire circumstances? How does that shape your view of marriage? Your view of God?

 Don't be afraid to tear down your character to show what they're made of. Break it down into emotions. What is her biggest fear? What would make it worse for her? cruel to your characters. They're made of more than you think.
posted at 11:28 AM  
  Comments (18)
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At 11:37 AM, Blogger Diann Hunt said...

Wow. Great post, K!! I have trouble making my characters so flawed, and yet it not only makes for a great story, it reflects humanity.

Thanks for the reminder!

At 12:15 PM, Blogger Kristin said...

Thanks Di. I'm sorry the paragraphs aren't showing up. I'm going to try from another computer. It's not easy to read all bunched up like that!

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Kristin said...

Yay, I fixed it. Sorry you had to read it like that Di, you're a good friend to do so. LOL

At 12:24 PM, Blogger Timothy Fish said...

One of the reasons I like putting Bible stories in a modern setting is because of the differences between then and now. People are pretty much the same, but the way we do things is very different. When I wrote For the Love of a Devil, one of my big challenges was figuring out how to take a middle class housewife in modern day America and turn her into a slave. If you can ever work through the things that are different, it gives a better understanding than if we just assume that was the way things were back then.

What you said about your current book got me to thinking about the other side of the coin. Rather than questioning how the children are shaped by the situation, I’m thinking, what about the woman? Of course the Bible does say that God hates divorce. Of course there’s that stuff that Paul had to say about a believing spouse staying with an unbelieving spouse in the hope that they will be able to win them to the Lord. But what would a believing spouse do to stay committed to that approach and protect their children at the same time, if the other spouse is abusive?

At 12:40 PM, Blogger Kristin said...

This woman is married to a "believer" -- a false one, that's what makes it so much harder.

As far as a housewife being a slave? Uh, that's not a far cry from many a housewife's POV.

At 12:40 PM, Blogger Rachel Overton said...

Your current WIP sounds exactly like what a friend of mine is living. She's so messed up spiritually, emotionally. She knows truth but because of her upbringing, she runs so hard in the other direction.... I hope your characters can find a way to deal with this realistically. It's a very hard thing. I'd love to read your book when it releases.

At 12:43 PM, Blogger Kristin said...

I had the luxury of having a good friend married to a schizophrenic who was also a popular preacher. He was someone else outside the home, so that's sort of my character study.

At 12:54 PM, Blogger Timothy Fish said...

I suppose it depends on where you’re going with the story whether it matters whether he admits he is lost or not.

As for the housewife comment, I’ll just say that if those women who think that would just stop to think about how much their husbands are doing for them every day, they would have a completely different perspective.

At 9:44 PM, Blogger Kristin said...

I think most women appreciate what their husbands are doing -- but it's still true that a lot of women work and are responsible for the kids/household.

The stats don't lie there.

At 12:48 AM, Blogger Iola said...

"As far as a housewife being a slave? Uh, that's not a far cry from many a housewife's POV."

My thoughts exactly. Many a true word is spoken in jest.

At 10:17 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

GREAT post, K! I've always said that people never start out believing they could actually do something as horrible as they end up doing. They get there in little steps.

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Timothy Fish said...

Trust me, I know all about spending all day at work and going home to housework that needs to be done. I’m not saying that women don’t work and work hard. But at the same time, most husbands aren’t living the life of Riley either. I do find, however, that many women don’t appreciate the work that their husbands do and they resent being the enabler for the responsibilities the Lord has given their husbands.

So, maybe they both work and come home tired. But really, does it matter that she’s the one fixing supper and getting the kids ready for bed if he’s busy preparing to teach a Sunday school lesson? Or if he’s gone to a committee meeting? One of the great images from the Bible comes from Proverbs 31, where the virtuous woman is doing all this work, so her husband can go meet with the city leaders.

I used to go on visitation with a guy who would meet me at church after he got off work. We would go visit a few people and then he would rush home so he could kiss the kids as they headed off to bed and spend a little time with his wife. I’ve never met anyone who was better skilled at visitation than he was, but he wouldn’t have been able to do it if his wife hadn’t been taking care of things at home. As individuals, they would’ve done okay. As a couple, they accomplished great things for the Lord.

At 11:16 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Timothy, this argument is fruitless. This is Kristin's story and everyone sees life and has experiences different from someone else. You'll have to write your story and let Kristin write hers. :)

At 11:42 AM, Blogger Kristin said...

I don't know these wives you speak of, Timothy, and I"ve been a stay-at-home mom for nearly 20 years. To be a stay-at-home mom in SIlicon Valley is nearly impossible, it's so expensive here, but most all of my friends have been able to do it thanks to their husband's good salaries.

I know BOTH of them have truly appreciated the freedom that brings. To not have to get off work for a school function is appreciated by both. I LOVE to drive kids to track/soccer and get to know the kids my kids hang out with -- and I know my husband appreciates that he can work free and clear.

At 2:23 PM, Blogger Timothy Fish said...

Kristin, see, that doesn't sound very much like slavery.

Colleen, of course, I wouldn't have it any other way.

At 2:16 AM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Girls, I think we may have a story here. A man is speaking about something that seems to be disturbing him a great deal, and is using Kristin as a counselor-confessor. Unfortunately, men don't tend to spill all like we girls do. It's a shame, really, because it can be very cathartic and helpful. I think the subtext--something else we need to discuss sometime--is that here is a man struggling with a painful situation in his life. Where we girls don't use as much subtext, we just come out with the problem. Care to share, Timothy? Are you struggling with something you want us to pray for you about?

At 11:48 AM, Blogger Kristin said...

You know me, Cheryl, this doesn't change my mind. My fake Christian character is dying like he lived: without kindness. LOL

At 6:37 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

I know, Kris. That's what happens to fakes.


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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