Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Building Characters by Using Their Life Verse by Patty Smith Hall

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

I remember the day I chose this piece of scripture to be my life verse. I was back in high school, at the end of my sophomore year and still new in my faith in Christ. My best friend, Donna had signed my yearbook and wanting to know what she’d said, I went to the space I’d reserved for her. At the bottom just under her name, she had written a verse.

Her life verse.

Then and there, I decided I needed one. Better yet, I’d just borrow Donna’s. I’d always liked Romans 8:28, and I certainly loved the Lord so that meant everything would work out okay in my life, right?

It took me many years and a few hardships to truly understand that piece of scripture, and even more to trust in what it meant. But I’ve recently begun to wonder how important a life verse would be in the development of our characters. How do we as writers show how scripture plays out in the everyday lives of our hero and heroine? How important is it for them to have a life verse? So how do we do this?

Be in Prayer
I have to tell you, I get really involved with my characters when I’m writing, so much so, I asked my Sunday school class to pray for my hero one time. I quickly caught myself, but now, I’m wondering why I didn’t ask for prayer more often. Because our writing is a ministry, our characters are the messengers—they are the ones sharing God’s love and His redemptive grace through your story. So, praying for and studying the right life verse is foundational to your story.

Be Vulnerable
This one is tough because it’s difficult to share those hidden parts of ourselves. Yet, how many more people could we reach if we let down our guard and be who we truly are? The same goes for our characters. For example, I’ve noticed that more readers connect with my hero/heroines who have a physical disability. They share their own stories and feel encouraged when my characters get their HEA. I’m able to write these characters with authority because I myself have been physically disabled for almost thirty years.

So how does being vulnerable work with your character’s life verse? Use it as the theme of their life. Recently, I took a book launching class and one of the exercises was for us to recognize the theme of our lives. It sounds a bit daunting but what I realized was this: my life verse is the theme of my life. If we ask that same question of our characters, we might be surprised to find out the same is true for them.

Be Ready for Where the Story Might Take You
I’ve always rushed through the Life Verse question on character charts I fill out before I start a book. I’d just jot down a verse, because I knew what direction my story would go.

Boy, was I wrong!

Over the past few years, I’ve had to change the back-cover copy to my books every single time. That’s what building a character through his/her life verse does. It makes your characters three dimensional, more believable and relatable which means readers connect with you and your writing.

I’ve recently begun to wonder how important a life verse would be in the development of our characters. via @pattywrites #SeriouslyWrite


Patty Smith Hall lives in North Georgia with her husband of 36+ years, Danny. Her passion is to write tender romances based in little-known historical moments. The winner of the 2008 ACFW Genesis award in historical romance, she is published with Love Inspired Historical, Barbour and Winged Publishing, and is a contributor to the Seriously Writing blog as well as Journey magazine. Patty is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. 

Hearts in Flight

Serving her country as one of the Women's Army Special Pilots is Maggie Daniels's dearest wish. But there are obstacles to overcome above and beyond the enemies in the Pacific, including her overprotective family, skeptical fellow pilots—and handsome, distant squadron leader Wesley Hicks. Whatever it takes, Maggie will prove herself to Wesley, until she succeeds in winning his admiration…and love.

Wesley can see that Maggie's a first-class pilot. She's also too fearless by half. The war has cost Wesley so much already. Can he let go of his guilt for a chance at happiness—and can he learn to trust in God…and Maggie…enough to believe in love for a lifetime?