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Zee

Tricky Character Development

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So in my new book, the main character is a guy who is a believer, but at the moment he's discouraged and not very serious about his faith. As the story progresses, I want him to get serious, but I want to go about it in a way that doesn't seem forced or superficial. Any ideas for how I could do this? Or examples of where you've seen this done well? (Including in your own stories.)

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You could drop hints. Or you could be very subtle about it. Mention God at times but not blast it in the reader's face. Think "Chronicles of Narnia." I haven't read those but from what I know there is a Christian message interwoven throughout the story.

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44 minutes ago, Zee said:

So in my new book, the main character is a guy who is a believer, but at the moment he's discouraged and not very serious about his faith. As the story progresses, I want him to get serious, but I want to go about it in a way that doesn't seem forced or superficial. Any ideas for how I could do this? Or examples of where you've seen this done well? (Including in your own stories.)

 

I have a similar arc.

 

I'm using the "promised one" trope.  Everyone tells him he's the "promised champion," and he only half-believes the assertion.  This opens up the door to talk about fate and faith throughout the entire saga, as the character reflects on all of the events that have transpired.

 

I have a moment where the main character expresses his true belief during a time of stress.  But this is bookended by dialog where the very same character claims he doesn't truly know what to believe.  My editor caught this, and flagged it as an inconsistency.  It wasn't.  I put that there on purpose to illustrate that, deep down, we always know what we believe, we just don't want to admit it to ourselves.

 

In another book I am writing, I use the main character's unshakable belief to overcome the cynicism of another important character.  You might say that Lee Strobel had a similar journey. 

 

I think in both cases, the impetus is external to the character having the conflict.  And more often than not, it is a Eureka moment, bracketed by stress, insights, and reflection.

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3 hours ago, Sarah Daffy said:

You could drop hints. Or you could be very subtle about it. Mention God at times but not blast it in the reader's face. Think "Chronicles of Narnia." I haven't read those but from what I know there is a Christian message interwoven throughout the story.

 

I'm not exactly sure what you mean. Could you clarify?

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1 hour ago, Jeff Potts said:

I have a moment where the main character expresses his true belief during a time of stress.  But this is bookended by dialog where the very same character claims he doesn't truly know what to believe. 

 

Hmmm, this gives me an idea of how I might manage...and it would fit very well with the plot as already planned. Thanks!

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Just now, Zee said:

 

I'm not exactly sure what you mean. Could you clarify?

Okay, I'm really not that good at typing out what I mean in my head. I meant your book doesn't have to inexplicably Christian, more of an underlying Christian theme.

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2 minutes ago, Sarah Daffy said:

Okay, I'm really not that good at typing out what I mean in my head. I meant your book doesn't have to inexplicably Christian, more of an underlying Christian theme.

 

Ok, I get it now. (Except I think you mean "explicitly.") Being subtle with the Christian themes is not really the issue, as it's a Christian series, and this particular book is written from the POV of a Christian character...but I want this character to move from a "lukewarm" to a "hot" faith through the course of the story.

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3 hours ago, Zee said:

As the story progresses, I want him to get serious, but I want to go about it in a way that doesn't seem forced or superficial. Any ideas for how I could do this?

Since your stories have suspense in them, you could use the suspense to accomplish this. When circumstances get rough, your character could realize that he needs to depend on God. Or you could have him inspired by a character who's already serious about faith.

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13 hours ago, HK1 said:

Since your stories have suspense in them, you could use the suspense to accomplish this. When circumstances get rough, your character could realize that he needs to depend on God. Or you could have him inspired by a character who's already serious about faith.

 

Yes, I think either of those could work...or both. Now you’ve got me thinking.

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48 minutes ago, Zee said:

Now you’ve got me thinking.

I believe that's the purpose of this group (at least, one of the purposes).

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I know a guy who was reading through the Bible and asked God to show him an example of whatever it was that he was reading. So he got to the plagues in Exodus, and laughed, thinking, "sure, okay, how is God going to show me an experience about this?" and at his work, a lady opened the door, and a whole bunch of flies flew in. So an open relationship where you actually ask God for something and expect an answer and one shows up can help grow your faith.

Also, like what HK1 was saying, depending on God is a great option. It can be EXCITING to be at God's mercy and wait and wonder how and where He will provide next, or who will say something to you that is JUST the right thing that you needed to hear. That can help turn your faith from lukewarm to hot. Maybe don't let him lose everything, but a few important things in his life, yet provision keeps coming, or doors keep opening.

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I also like @HK1's thoughts. Maybe put your character in a situation where they have to depend on God because there's nothing else. Maybe even have him make the mistake of doing the bargain: "Okay, God, get me out of this and I'll ..." And maybe God gets him out. So he's kind of doing the "vending-machine God" thing for a while until he learns that God won't always answer prayer with a yes, and that there's a reason for that.

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What if the main character is left feeling more and more separated from God, more independent of Him until he evidences that his life is getting out of control, and he is forced to ask God to reign him in?  How about if, at that moment, God introduces him to a special woman who shows him the way that she depends on God for everything in her life?

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21 minutes ago, suspensewriter said:

What if the main character is left feeling more and more separated from God, more independent of Him until he evidences that his life is getting out of control, and he is forced to ask God to reign him in?  How about if, at that moment, God introduces him to a special woman who shows him the way that she depends on God for everything in her life?

 

Great idea! In fact, I’m using this very plot in an upcoming story (just with the gender roles reversed.) But I don’t think it will quite work for this one.

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On 7/28/2020 at 6:45 PM, Sarah Daffy said:

...inexplicably Christian...

I was mentioning on Facebook about getting ideas from typos. Another one for the file!

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On 8/1/2020 at 1:45 PM, Zee said:

 

Great idea! In fact, I’m using this very plot in an upcoming story (just with the gender roles reversed.) 

 

You know, you might want to check out Alice Cooper's conversion story for ideas.

 

Yes, this is the same Alice Cooper who wears makeup, and is a shock rock star.  I saw a documentary on his start, descent into drugs and alcohol, and his conversion to Christianity.  Brian Welch from Korn is another.

 

You may think these seamy and raunchy (they are), but they are actually quite illustrative of what happens during a decline, and what it is that shocks them into belief.

 

 

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3 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

Brian Welch from Korn???  Who would have thought!

 

Yes.  His was the scariest, I think.

 

Alice Cooper's story is a mixture of tragedy and surreal comedy.

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On the subject of rock stars and conversion, there is also Kerry Livgren of Kansas (Carry On my Wayward Son, Point of Know Return).  He was one of those who was always searching, spiritually, before finding Christianity.  And he has stuck with it ever since.

 

Dave Mustaine is another interesting story.  He is probably the most hard-boiled of all the Rockstar rock-bottom-conversion tales.

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