Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Bible Study, Anyone? By Marie Wells Coutu

Regardless of the genre or the structure we follow for writing a novel, telling a story means taking our characters on a journey. Our protagonist must have a goal and motivation to achieve that goal, whether the goal is tangible or abstract.

In Christian fiction, the spiritual journey of our characters is just as important, if not more important, than their physical and emotional journeys.

A friend recently shared with me a method she’s using to explore her main character’s beliefs, learn more about her, and understand her spiritual journey.

She’s putting her through a Bible study.

Many writers give our characters personality tests—at least, I do. We “answer” questions for them about their backstory, favorite foods and flowers, and the happiest moment and darkest moment of their life. Perhaps we journal as our character in order to tell part of the story and find the character’s voice.

My friend decided to take this discovery process one step further. She was starting a new Bible study related to the theme of her novel. Instead of reading the book and answering discussion questions as she normally would, she adopted the persona of her main character and went through the study from that perspective.

This revealed aspects of the heroine’s personality and mindset she hadn’t realized and helped my friend gain insight into the character’s faith and struggles.

The “answers” she writes may or may not wind up in the book; heavy-handed biblical teaching is not desirable in today’s fiction. Ultimately, though, the process will deepen the spiritual elements of the story and increase readers’ ability to relate to the character.

This appeals to me as a great strategy, and I plan to use it for at least one character in my next novel.

Have you found other unusual methods to help your characters come alive in your mind? Sometimes the less obvious approach leads a writer closer to the “truth” of the story. Share your ideas and help all of us go deeper with our characters.

Sometimes a less obvious approach leads a writer closer to the “truth” of a character and a story. #amwriting #writingtips @mwcoutu @MaryAFelkins #seriouslywrite

The author adopted the persona of her main character and went through a Bible study from that perspective. This helped her gain insight into the character’s faith and struggles. #amwriting @mwcoutu @MaryAFelkins #seriouslywrite #writingtips

Marie Wells Coutu finds beauty in surprising places, like old houses, gnarly trees, and forgotten treasures. When she’s not writing about finding restoration and healing through God-designed journeys, she enjoys taking broken things and making them useful.
She is currently working on historical romance novels set in the 1930s. One manuscript won the 2019 Touched by Love Contest and the 2019 Sheila Contest, and a second novel also won in the Sheila Contest.
Her published novels are women’s contemporary fiction. Her debut novel, For Such a Moment, won the Books of Hope Contest. The Secret Heart, her newest release, and Thirsting for More, the second book in the series, were finalists in several contests.

You can find more about Marie and her novels on her Facebook author page and her website, MarieWellsCoutu.com,
Follow her on Twitter @mwcoutu or on Amazon.