Monday, September 10, 2018

Building Hope

By Peter Leavell @peterleavell

The ground around us rumbled as his anger shook the building. “It’s all against us.” He bemoaned so loudly, people at the writer’s conference dove under tables and ducked under sturdy door frames.

“I don’t understand.” I gripped a nearby support beam.

“Only romance is published!”

“Ah.” I rubbed my ruptured eardrum. “You write action, lots of violence. Right?”

He told me about the attack jet F-15’s new forward cannon that fired silver bullets to tear demons to shreds.

He stomped the ground and the building nearly collapsed. “But the whole industry is sexist. They won’t publish it.”

"No, it's not sexist." I warned him not to throw around false accusations. Then I read the first chapter of his work.

It wasn’t going to sell. The tone was angry and bitter, and a quick glance at the end showed no difference. 

I’ve read hundreds of unpublished bits of work like his, and I've noticed this:

A writer's attitude and emotions are reflected in the characters.

What message is the fundamental takeaway that not only sells, but that will best serve this world? 


Your work must have hope. A hope of a future, a hope of happiness, a hope of an absence of pain. Donald Maass said in his must-read The Emotional Craft of Fiction, “Hope is the current running through fiction that we love…It’s experienced through a need not to avoid what’s bad, but to seek what’s good. It’s felt not in a series of setbacks, but in a rising curve of yearning.”

If a writer's emotions are reflected in our characters, and our characters should have hope, then how do we fill our hearts with hope?

—We are spiritual. Don’t suppress your curiosity about God. Spend time in meditation and prayer, reading about the Creator, and learning His character. There's hope for today and tomorrow in God's character.

—Cultivate thankfulness. Science and history say, yes, things can be worse. Don’t close your eyes to the glorious freedom of perpetual gratefulness that's akin to hope.

—Challenge yourself. You’re more resilient and smarter than you think. Read books that are hard to understand, listen to lectures that you have to think long and hard about, make friends with a philosopher. Knowledge is experience the easy way, and experience shows there is hope.

Instead of frustrated or angry, be that person who is hopeful, who takes their hope out on the people around them.

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history and currently enrolled in the University's English Lit Graduate program, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. A novelist, blogger, teacher, ghostwriter, jogger, biker, husband and father, Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at