Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Psalm 73 and the Character's Journey by Marie Wells Coutu

Marie Wells Coutu
As a Christian writer, I often turn to the Bible for inspiration and encouragement. But recently I found that scripture also provides parallels for the structure of a novel.

While studying Psalm 73, I was struck by the similarities between this psalm and the familiar “character’s journey,” used by many novelists.

In the first few verses, the psalmist believes a Lie: “I was envious of arrogant people when I saw the prosperity that wicked people enjoy” (v.3, GW). He looks at those who have turned away from God and believes they have easy lives, without illness or trouble (see v.4-5). “Look how wicked they are! They never have a worry. They grow more and more wealthy” (v.12).

The writer believes that all his efforts to live a godly life have been wasted. His heart has deceived him (see Jeremiah 17:9). He suffers from exaggerated, faulty thinking. (Doesn’t that sound like most of the main characters in our books?)

You might consider this his Inciting Incident. He despairs (Is this his Black Moment?) of ever understanding the reason for his troubles when evil people seem to have great lives (see v.16). Even so, apparently he decides to go to the Temple: “Only when I came into God’s holy place did I finally understand” (v.17).

Then this man comes to his Mirror Moment. He sees himself clearly. “When my heart was filled with bitterness and my mind was seized with envy, I was stupid, and I did not understand” (v.21-22). And thus begins his Transformation, as God heals his heart. God shows him the end of the story for the wicked people: “You put them in slippery places and make them fall into ruin. They are suddenly destroyed. They are completely swept away by terror!” (v.18-19).

In the final verses, we see the psalmist’s New Life when he says, “My body and mind may waste away, but God remains the foundation of my life and my inheritance forever…. I have made the Almighty Lord my refuge” (v.25-28).

Now, this psalm doesn’t depict all key elements of the story, such as the Climax or Denouement. But I think if you read between the lines, those elements are there.
Since our stories are about Life and Truth, it shouldn’t surprise us that God’s Word reveals all the components of a good story. Because every life is a Story. And God wrote the original Book.

About the Author

Marie Wells Coutu’s newest novel, The Secret Heart, will be released in February 2017 from Write Integrity Press. Follow Marie on Amazon.com to be notified when it becomes available. The Secret Heart, loosely based on the lives of Bathsheba and David, is the third book in the Mended Vessels series. Books in the series are contemporary re-imaginings of the stories of biblical women, including Esther and the woman at the well. 

Her debut novel, For Such a Moment, won the Books of Hope Contest. Thirsting for More, the second book in the series was a finalist in the 2016 Selah Awards Contest and a semi-finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Awards sponsored by Florida Writers Association. You can find more about Marie and her novels on her Facebook page (Author Marie Wells Coutu), at her website (MarieWellsCoutu.com), or follow her on Twitter (@mwcoutu). 
Marie retired after 15 years with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and she and her husband now divide their time between Florida and Iowa.

The Secret Heart
by Marie Wells Coutu
The Secret Heart

Beautiful Shawna Moore married Hunter Wilson, the governor of Tennessee, after a whirlwind romance, only six weeks following her first husband’s death in Iraq. Now, she wonders if the governor loved her at all or only hoped to avoid a scandal.

An investigative reporter—and friend of Shawna’s—is asking questions. If he discovers the truth about Shawna’s baby, Hunter’s chances for reelection could be ruined. But keeping the secret is destroying their marriage. Will Shawna convince Hunter to choose his family and drop out of politics, or will he continue to put his career first?

The Secret Heart will be available for pre-order in mid-January. For a sneak peek, download the first chapter here.