If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
Welcome to another Terrific Tuesday, where we take a look at God’s word, His kingdom or His people to see what we can learn about ourselves, Him and/or our relationships with Him.
The first verse of I Corinthians 13 says, “IF I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
This is a very familiar verse to most Christians. In fact, we fondly refer to Chapter 13 and “The Love Chapter.” It’s an extremely important chapter to us, and we learn much from it.
I’ve read this chapter dozens of times. I’ve studied it. I’ve written about it. And yet today I looked at it and found a valuable lesson for a fiction writer.
In the first three novellas in my Fancy series, I had little trouble making Fancy, my teenage protagonist, a likable character. Bad things kept happening, and it was easy to keep the reader’s sympathy with her. Her mentor shielded her from a lot of the tough things that needed to be done.
In the fourth volume, however, she has to stand on her own two feet for really the first time. In giving her the strength to fight her own battles, I neglected to show her as a loving person. As a result, my main beta reader, who had liked Fancy through the first three volumes, told me she had a tough time liking her or even caring about her.
That surprised me, since in my mind she was always a caring, loving person. I was unprepared for her critique. As I read what she had to say and reread the passages she referred to, it became obvious to me that I’d failed to convey my image of my star character.
Fancy had become a much stronger and more decisive person, but she’d also become a noisy gong and clanging cymbal. She needed to show a softer side. She had to show some love.
I had just finished editing my manuscript in light of these latest critiques when I happened across the verse cited above. It all clicked. Our protagonists—the characters we most want readers to like—have to have love, just like real people.
Hopefully, I’ve made Fancy a more likable character—and hopefully also, I exhibit love to others in my personal life.
Do you have a New Testament passage or concept you’d like to see discussed here? Maybe something you’ve never quite understood. I’d love to hear from you about that, too. I’ll try my best to explain it.
For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.
For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.
Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.
“Our protagonists—the characters we most want readers to like—have to have love, just like real people.” I can relate so much to this line and absolutely agree with you. Character development is incredibly difficult, especially in light of the subject matter. You need your characters to convey their humanity – their short comings, their strengths, their purpose, etc. Sometimes when we have a point we want to make through our characters, we lose sight of what makes or gives them character. Thanks for this reminder!
Looking forward to more of your blog posts (and hopefully more in the future!)!
Thanks, Susan. Glad my post clicked with you.
How neat that you could take the critique and figure out what you need to do for Fancy to still appear like the loving person she is. I sure wish I could get Fancy 3, much less Fancy 4 !
I wish you could, too. I don’t understand what’s up with Barnes & Noble. Since you reminded me, I’m gonna try them again.
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Hi, David. Great post.
Question for you: do you think love is always expressed softly – or can the noisemakers in our lives also be expressing love? I do understand the emptiness of spirit referenced in 1 Cor 13, and that’s not what I’m questioning; however, just generally speaking, can the expression of love – in your opinion – be a less-than-gentle thing?
Tough love is a subject that has been discussed and accepted more and more in recent years. I agree with the concept, but love MUST underlie the toughness. One wise person said, “I don’t care what you know until I know that you care.”