Posted in Christian Fiction, Writing

Actions Make or Break Your Characters


Actions speak louder than words, in life and in the characters that we write about. Isn’t it ironic that even though our readers will only know our characters through our words, that it is truly through the actions that our characters take that our readers will come to know them?
There are so many different ways to approach and develop a story. Some people have all their major plot moments mapped out before they begin to write. Others have a general idea and sort of let things grow organically as they work through the first draft, taking later drafts to fine tune and give cohesive direction to their stories. But most all of us, I think, have to have a pretty good idea about the characters we are writing about before we begin. If we don’t, we can easily slip into the fallacy of the character’s actions not truly reflecting the person we are trying to represent.
I cringe any time I am reading a story and I discover that a character who had curly hair in the beginning is suddenly moaning over her straight locks. Usually, the gaffs are minor like this, evidence that the writer got caught up in the larger story and somehow missed the minor details on the re-run through. But what about when the thing that the character does, especially in those twist-at-the-end kind of stories, goes entirely against what the character has been throughout the story? When the twist becomes the main reason for the story, the characters fade to the background and, frankly, my interest in the story fades with them.
When you’re writing Christian fiction, your characters actions become even more important. Not that your characters should be perfect, because we live in a flawed world and we, presumably, want to create stories that will help people live better in that flawed world. However, the characters in a Christian story should match their actions to the words that define their faith. When they stumble, they should eventually recognize the stumble, confess it to their Maker and do the work it takes not to make the same mistake again. Their actions should seek Christ-like living as much as we are able in this flawed world and with the Holy Spirit’s assistance.
For a Christian, words should be married to action. When we are best at accomplishing this, surely we are closest to living as Christ would have us live.

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Author:

I am a 40-something Texan with a feisty cat and a supportive husband of 20 years. With a Master's degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing, I have taught creative writing at Texas Tech, won awards for my writing and been blessed to be mentored by Horn Professor and poet Dr. Walt McDonald. I earn a living by helping my husband's family run a health food store, but my avocation is writing. I hope you enjoy reading about some of my triumphs and tragedies as I continue to work on figuring out what life is all about and on growing my ability to share my writing. May your own journey be a blessed one.

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