Monday, February 8, 2010

Your Heartache, Your Story by Tricia Goyer

This Manuscript Monday, we're excited to welcome back author and friend Tricia Goyer. Today's topic: how to turn your pain into good writing.

Your Heartache, Your Story
by Tricia Goyer

The themes for my novels have a common thread. They center around ordinary people plopped into extraordinary situations (mostly centered around war), and with the guidance of God these people rise above ... and help and save others in the process.

Also, all my novels have some level of abandonment by a parent that leads to internal struggles. I never planned this, but looking back it's in all my books! Even my third (and final) novel in my Spanish Civil War series.

As I was writing book #3 a light clicked on and suddenly every element of the story came together as it was revealed to me that one of my main characters was abandoned by a parent ... and WHO he really is.

I didn't plan that in Book #1, but it seems as if I did. It makes the whole story work and takes the whole series to a deeper level than I anticipated.

Hmmm ... as someone who didn't meet my biological dad until my late 20s and who got pregnant and was abandoned by my boyfriend as a teen I WONDER why I keep writing about this issue?!

This reminds me about something I read this morning from the book Loving God by Chuck Colson:

One Easter morning, as I sat in the chapel at the Delaware State Prison waiting to preach, my mind drifted back in time ... to scholarships and honors earned, cases argued and won, great decisions made from lofty government offices. My life had been the perfect success story, the great American dream fulfilled.

But all at once I realized that it was not my success God had used to enable me to help those in this prison, or in hundreds others like it. My life of success was not what made this morning so glorious--all my achievements meant nothing in God's economy. No, the real legacy of my life was my biggest failure--that I was an ex-convict. My greatest humiliation--being sent to prison--was the beginning of God's greatest use of my life; he chose the one experience in which I could not glory for his glory.

Confronted with this staggering truth, I understood with a jolt that I had been looking at life backward. But now I could see: Only when I lost everything that I thought made Charles Colson a great guy had I found the true self God intended me to be and the true purpose of my life.

It is not what we do that matters, but what a sovereign God chooses to do through us.

Consider this in your own writing. Do your historical novels have elements of your greatest loss and humiliation? If not, my suggestion is that you prayerfully mine those areas, because it is there you can write with passion, pain and conviction. It is from those hurt places that you will touch the soul of a reader in ways you never expected.

Tricia Goyer

For more than a decade, author Tricia Goyer has drawn from her experiences as a teen mother and leader of today’s generation, to be a voice of hope and possibility for all teen girls, pregnant teens, mothers and wives. To learn more, visit:


  1. It's amazing how much of what goes on inside can be revealed through our fiction.

  2. Great advice. I know that someday, I'll be using some of the pain of my growing up years in a novel - though I'm hesitant to do so until I feel that I've also received healing for those. Then again, writing is often catharsis and may help me work through my own pain to help others work through theirs! :)


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