A Words of Faith story written by Beth K. Vogt
I ask a lot of questions as I prepare to fast draft a manuscript. Questions like:
· Who are my main characters?
· Where and when does this story take place?
· Who are my secondary characters and how does my subplot tie into the main story?
· What Dark Moment in their past shaped my main characters’ emotional makeup?
Here’s one additional question I ask:
· Where are my characters in their relationship with God?
Yes, my characters are fictional. But as I plot chapters, I often wonder: If these were real people, what would they need to learn about God?
As the author of my books, I know that my characters have made choices that have hurt them and others. This is all backstory. I also know that in the story I’m writing they’re going to make other wrong choices – or be affected by the wrong choices of others. All of this influences their (fictitious) relationships with people … and with God.
I weave my worldview into my stories, and so my characters struggle with their faith. Sometimes my characters struggle to even accept there is a God who loves them and wants to have a relationship with them.
When I ask the question, “Where are my characters in their relationship with God?” that question echoes back to me.
Where am I in my relationship with God?
God has used each one of my novels and e-novellas to deepen his relationship with me. As a newbie writer, I thought I was merely plotting, writing, and rewriting stories. But God doesn’t waste anything in our lives. As I’ve scripted the spiritual journeys of my characters, God has woven this “where are you” question into my own faith journey. I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, he is the author and finisher of my faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
Oftentimes, God works with the spiritual thread I’ve woven through my characters’ lives. When I wrote my upcoming release, Almost Like Being in Love, I knew that Caron, my heroine, struggled with feeling significant. She sought approval from a certain someone in her life, rather than setting her heart on God’s assessment of her.
God’s “where are you?” prompted me to reexamine my past tendency to seek approval from others, rather than to trust who God says I am – and to be content with that.
However, when I wrote my 2014 release, Somebody Like You, God surprised me with the spiritual journey He took me on. Somebody Like You deals with two twin brothers who are estranged. This was a carefully thought out plot point on my part. Never did I imagine that during the time I wrote this novel that I would become estranged from my own family of origin. Experiencing emotional separation from my family truly broke my heart and made it difficult to write. But because God is sovereign, he was not surprised by this upheaval in my life. I had to trust God as never before during this time as my characters’ struggles became my own.
Now whenever I start mulling over a new story, I anticipate the story unfolding; meeting new characters, devising challenges for them to face, and discovering how they change from the beginning of the book to the end.
But I also know God will use the process to ask the question, “Where are you, Beth?” And by the time my manuscript is finished, I will be changed, too.
Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” Beth is a 2016 Christy Award finalist, as well as a 2015 RITA® finalist, and two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist.
She continues her destination wedding series with You Can’t Hurry Love (May 2016) and Almost Like Being in Love (June 2016). Visit Beth at bethvogt.com.