Here at Geneva College, we emphasize that possessing a Christian worldview affects how we approach culture and creative callings. I guess I’ll add to the chorus and explain how Christ and Gospel shape the way I approach character creation in my story.
I’ve always been drawn to stories of redemption, and the Bible as well as the Gospel are chock full of them. Peter, the same dude that denied Christ back-to-back-to-back, was the one standing before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4 along with John, refusing to cease preaching about Jesus.
Plus, I always think about the depths of sin that I’ve been dredged up from. It’s humbling to be redeemed by Christ—to know I’ve been rerouted from hell and brought into the kingdom of God. That’s the common story of Christians: on our way to hell and diverted by God’s grace.
Before I start sounding too preachy, I’ll tie this all into what this means for writing. I think, that as Christians, we more than anyone else should know how to construct complex characters, because we’ve seen what we’ve been redeemed from.
A good short story casts characters that are nuanced and have conflicting qualities. Readers gravitate toward these characters because they reflect human nature. No one believes a reader who strolls through tragedy or challenges without blinking. As writers, we want to get rid of the caricatures and introduce the complexities.
Reading the Bible helps me develop complexities in characters, because its pages are stacked with the records of people, both good and bad, in terms of how they served God. Heroics and blemishes are on display, and reading stories of characters reminds me that I have to remain faithful to human nature when I write.
For example, the protagonist in my story, a Navy SEAL is not cast as a stone-cold stoic hero. Rather, I have him make mistakes, keep secrets, and suffer. Because that’s what real people do. SEALs are human like anyone else, and to whitewash the complexities and consequences of combat would be a disservice to them.
But I remember to include redemption. I won’t give away the story’s end, but I will say that the protagonist finds his reroute from hell and back.
The Bible hosts these kinds of stories—stories of betrayal and forgiveness, valor and cowardice, suffering and salvation. Those are the kinds of stories I want to write about, because there’s nothing better than seeing that, most of the time, there are no heroes, just survivors.
It’s the survivors that have the best stories, because they may have caused their own downfalls, or suffered some tragedy, or stepped into some untapped courage. Whatever the story is, you can probably find it tucked away in the Bible somewhere.
So not only is the Bible the inspired Word of God, but it’s also a testament to the creativity of God. And it reveals its characters as they are rather than what they should have been.
Since the Bible doesn’t whitewash human complexity, neither should we.
Author’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing series of articles that will chart the progress I’m making on writing a short story. The story will be part of a larger Geneva College project in which students from Dr. Williams’s ENG 344 Publishing compile their short stories into a published collection for the campus. Check us out on Facebook under “Geneva Inklings.”
Kevin Cochrane is a writer and college student. Like what you read? Follow him on Twitter @RunFree_KC, find him on Facebook, or click the follow button at the bottom of the page to get Town Crier’s latest updates. Want to read more? Visit his blog at restandrefuge.wordpress.com which offers a Christian perspective on the surrounding culture. You can contact him with comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.