I broke someone’s heart today, I’m proud to say.
On reflection, when you look at that sentence, it’s hard to know which half of it is more offensive – the fact that I broke someone’s heart or the fact that I’m happy to announce it with pride.
Let me give you the context behind that statement: the person whose heart I broke is one of my characters, real to only me. And I’m happy to do it, because it has revealed a whole storyline that gives my character depth, accessibility and a challenge to overcome. Something for a reader to root for.
It’s a question I’ve asked of a number of people who are also writing Christian fiction is “where is the line between the Christian expression and the reality of life” and the best answer I’ve heard back is there is none. I’ve read a number of Christian stories which come across as preachy after a time, as if the author had a devotional book rattling round in their heads but decided at the last minute to turn it into a novel.
I’ve also read Christian stories whereby it’s not until after reflection on a key chapter that the moral or theme of the author is revealed and forces me into deeper thought.
To me, as I’ve entered this genre, I’ve seen a number of dissenting views of what actually makes characters in Christian fiction real. What is real? Would these characters be prone to moments of pride, jealousy or anger? Would they point out hypocrises they see in their world?
To me, a good story is a good story. The fact that it’s written by a Christian author just gives it a spiritual edge which forces thought or conversation.
My pastor once sagely noted that being a Christian doesn’t Teflon-coat you from life. Rather, your faith and trust in God enables you to manage trials and tribulations in a different way. I’ve taken that comment on board with my writing, particularly in contemporary fiction – where my characters live in a world where they are let down, disappointed and frustrated; along with joyous, overcoming and free. Each trial is matched with a tribulation.
Which brings me back to my character. I broke his heart by introducing a love interest who turned down his marriage proposal. And now he’s got to find a way to both overcome and deal with it, through experience, faith and friends. It will leave him wondering where God is in all of this. But I’ll be there to help him through it. And it’s my hope that readers will take those questions and wonder, just a little bit, how that question relates to them as well.