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Do Your Personal Virtues and Sins Affect Your Writing


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Following up on my question as to whether or not your personal life can affect shape your writing, I came across this quote the other day, and I wonder if you really believe it is true.

 

"Our virtues give us the clarity and understanding we need to write powerful themes.  

Our sins can prevent us from knowing how to best guide our characters through their stories."

 

So how about it?  Is this really true?  Do our personal sins really give us a blind spot to characters?

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1 hour ago, suspensewriter said:

So how about it?  Is this really true?  Do our personal sins really give us a blind spot to characters?

Gen. 6:5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

 

This has not changed. The only change that has come is that Jesus saved some from our punishment, and the Holy Spirit guides us to God.

 

There will be no sin in heaven ever. Not even a thought to sin. Picture that.

 

As someone who writes about living stuffed animals in Philadelphia, I think that suggests I have a good imagination, and yet I cannot imagine that. So, blind spot? Don't we all? And is it realistic to think we can write anything without that blind spot? (I also think it is bigger than a spot.)

 

As for virtues? I think we have none. Zip. Zilch. The only virtues within us are God's gift/strength/ability within us. Outside of Him, every intention of the thoughts of our heart is only evil continually. (In the words of Jack Miller, “Cheer up! You're a worse sinner than you ever dared imagine, and you're more loved than you ever dared hope.”

 

The one thing we can offer readers that no other group can offer is hope. Real hope. Christ's salvation. 😊

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3 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

Our sins can prevent us from knowing how to best guide our characters through their stories."

 

 

So how about it?  Is this really true?  Do our personal sins really give us a blind spot to characters?

 

“Our sins can prevent us from knowing how to best guide our characters through their stories."

 

I’m a little confused. I don’t know if I know how to word what I want to say. If there is a particular sin in our life, and we are working on it, wouldn’t that be helpful to a character? If we are not working on it, would that not add depth to a character?

 

Sorry. This is still confusing to me. Not sure what you mean by blind spot.

 

3 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

 

"Our virtues give us the clarity and understanding we need to write powerful themes.  

 

2 hours ago, Spaulding said:

As for virtues? I think we have none. Zip. Zilch. The only virtues within us are God's gift/strength/ability within us. Outside of Him, every intention of the thoughts of our heart is only evil continually.

 

I would agree and respectfully disagree.

 

“Evil continually” in the Bible is in the OT and spoken of degenerate mankind. Believers have been regenerated and with Christ living in us, we have virtue. We have worth and are worthy. We are a new creation. The old has passed away. However, some who have not allowed the Lord to be that newness in their life may not live virtuously.

 

“But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph. 4:20-24 NKJV)

 

According to the dictionaries, virtue is a good and moral quality, such as patience. Also, moral attitudes, behavior showing high moral standards, the good result that comes from something, such as hard work, conduct that conforms to an accepted standard of right and wrong. And character, goodness, honesty, integrity, righteousness, uprightness.

 

Virtue in the NT means any excellence of a person (in body or mind) or of a thing, an eminent endowment, property or quality, a virtuous course of thought, feeling and action; virtue, moral goodness 2 Peter 1:5, any particular moral excellence, as modesty, purity Phil 4:8.

    

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9 NKJV) Praises or excellencies means virtues.

    

“As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.” (2 Peter 1:3-4 NKJV)

 

Therefore, I would think "Our virtues give us the clarity and understanding we need to write powerful themes.” 

 

Unless I’m totally misunderstanding all this.

 

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9 minutes ago, lynnmosher said:

I’m a little confused. I don’t know if I know how to word what I want to say. If there is a particular sin in our life, and we are working on it, wouldn’t that be helpful to a character? If we are not working on it, would that not add depth to a character?

 

Not necessarily, Lynn.  Our own sin could mask our understanding of our character's sin.  Does that make sense?

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"Our virtues give us the clarity and understanding we need to write powerful themes.  

Our sins can prevent us from knowing how to best guide our characters through their stories."

 

I believe this is basically true; but on the other hand, we could use our sins to help prevent our characters from getting into the same sinful paths that we have encountered.  Interesting thought...

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1 hour ago, suspensewriter said:

Not necessarily, Lynn.  Our own sin could mask our understanding of our character's sin.  Does that make sense?

 

Hmmm...I'm not sure. To me, if I have a splinter in my eye, I would be conscious and sympathize with someone else, even a character, who has the same. Okay. That said, would I then want to basically ignore what's in another?

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1 minute ago, Toni Star said:

but on the other hand, we could use our sins to help prevent our characters from getting into the same sinful paths that we have encountered.  Interesting thought...

 

That's basically how I felt, Toni. Trying to grasp this.

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7 minutes ago, lynnmosher said:

Hmmm...I'm not sure. To me, if I have a splinter in my eye, I would be conscious and sympathize with someone else, even a character, who has the same.

 

This would be a physical anguish, would it not?  A mean a splinter in the eye would be painful.  What we're talking about here is sin, something that would not be physical, but subtle.  And that could indeed color our judgment, I think.  No?

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I once had a pastor say that the Bible is absolutely true even when describing absolute falsehood.  His point was that the Bible accurately records the actions of people, whether good or bad. 

 

Sometimes those actions were virtuous, but often not.  Abraham lied to Pharaoh about being married to Sarah.  David was brave with Goliath and a coward before King Saul.  Peter (the ROCK) denied knowing Christ three times.  We can all name hundreds of examples.  Paul wrote about the frustration of knowing the good he should do and not doing it.

 

It isn't our flaws that define us, but rather how we lean on God to help us be victorious despite our flaws.

 

Taking that as the foundation, I believe a writer can use the experience of sin in his or her own life to write powerful descriptions of falling under the influence of sin, recognizing the need for a Savior, and eventually becoming victorious despite the sin.

 

More importantly, I think our readers know they also struggle with sin and would rather read about characters who struggle just as they do and fight to overcome.  

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15 minutes ago, Nick Cole said:

Taking that as the foundation, I believe a writer can use the experience of sin in his or her own life to write powerful descriptions of falling under the influence of sin, recognizing the need for a Savior, and eventually becoming victorious despite the sin.

 

More importantly, I think our readers know they also struggle with sin and would rather read about characters who struggle just as they do and fight to overcome.  

 

This was my point. though I haven't had time to add those additional thoughts. Well, said, Nick.

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When I write, and I create a character, I write according to the character's personality.  When the character is at a crossroads, I write what the character would do in that situation.  My personal sins and biases, if they exist, are minimal.

 

I can't tell you the number of times I've changed narrative because it was outside of the character's preferences and personality.

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This is certainly a thought-provoking thread. 

 

With a bit more consideration, I can see how my personal virtues and sins could affect my writing, both negatively and positively.

 

Negatively speaking, I might be less critical of a sin that I personally struggle with.  For example, if I lose my temper often, I might allow a character in my stories to have extreme bursts of anger that are ignored or casually justified.  It might even be accidental on my part, not realizing that I'm giving my characters a free pass in this area.  

 

On the other hand, I might be so aware of my shortcomings in this area that I'm especially hard on the characters in my story.  It could be that my story becomes a form of self-therapy, in which I secretly chastise myself by treating the characters harshly for my own flaws.

 

7 hours ago, Jeff Potts said:

I can't tell you the number of times I've changed narrative because it was outside of the character's preferences and personality.

 

My goal as an author is to do what Jeff said ... I want to rise above the story high enough that I can see when I need to change the narrative to stay true to the character.  

 

Nevertheless, I suppose a personal virtue/sin could create a blind spot when it comes to our writing. 

 

But isn't that true of every author?  I can't tell you how many times I've read a story and immediately spotted the author's personal convictions.  Instead of spinning a tale for me to read, the author used the tale to "grind an axe" on some particular issue.  I've seen that far too often on the hot political topics of our day.  As a Christian, many authors have alienated me because their story offended my beliefs and cast Christians as villians.  I may do the same (alienating readers) when my stories cast Christians as heroes, and if that happens, I suppose it's a risk I'm willing to take. 

 

Philosophically speaking, if my writing doesn't make it clear that I'm a Christian, my writing isn't what I want it to be.

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2 hours ago, Nick Cole said:

With a bit more consideration, I can see how my personal virtues and sins could affect my writing, both negatively and positively.

 

Negatively speaking, I might be less critical of a sin that I personally struggle with.  For example, if I lose my temper often, I might allow a character in my stories to have extreme bursts of anger that are ignored or casually justified.  It might even be accidental on my part, not realizing that I'm giving my characters a free pass in this area.  

 

That's the point of all this, I think.

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On 11/23/2021 at 12:08 PM, lynnmosher said:

Therefore, I would think "Our virtues give us the clarity and understanding we need to write powerful themes.” 

I admit to being on a downward spiral, when I wrote that. (Didn't sleep well tonight, so no idea if I'm hyper, depressed, or within-reason mode.)

 

But my thought pattern is God has saved, is saving, will save us. We are saved, but that doesn't mean we are the people God will get us to be.

 

Morally, we're often corrupted like we used to be. For me, I notice it the most when I help someone. There are four motives, (that I can think of), for helping someone:

1. Making that person's life a little better.

2. "Love your neighbor as yourself."

3. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."

4. You feel good and proud.

 

Which percentage is number 4? And that's my problem. I tend to take pride and enjoyment for myself as the reason to help someone else. That's not all of it, but the I suspect, I'm back to the opposite of God's commands to us, "Love self." And I believe that is the crux of all sin. And the part of us that isn't virtuous -- ourselves.

 

The sin is my doing. The virtuous is all God's doing.

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