Last time, we looked a bit at writing faith-filled fiction. Today, I want consider the idea of Truth in Fiction. Of course, in today’s world (as well as when Jesus walked the earth), many people ask along with Pilate, “What is truth?” (see John 18 for more on that interchange) As Christians, followers of the Christ, we know that He is Truth. His Words, His teachings, are the essence of all that is real, that is pure, that is true. Within the context of fiction, though, we can consider it at different levels.
First though, consider this truth:
All fiction has some grain of truth, and from this grain, the story grows.
Even the most outrageous, creative, out-of-this-world story starts with a grain of reality. An idea of the author, a circumstance he or she saw or experienced, perhaps a dream or some other place of inspiration. But for all that we as writers create, there is nothing made apart from what God has already made. Sure, as we live in a sinful world, our creative efforts are also tainted by sin. But His redemptive work covers that, as well…so we keep writing, keep praying and adjusting and seeking His guidance as we write. And we write to tell the Truth for which He suffered and died, and rose again.
All Christian fiction has some grain of Truth, and from this grain, the story grows. Let’s consider this now.
- In my book, Penelope’s Hope, there is a true, historic place in which the story is set. Some of the minor characters or people mentioned might be real, and while I (obviously) would have no personal experience in what they might say or do, I can extrapolate a general response to a situation (such as Penelope being looked down on because of her brother’s poor behavior). The fiction comes in with the characters and places I made up (Wyndmere, Penelope, Ashbridge, Violet, and so on). So in a broad sense, the truth of the place in history is where the fictional story grew.
- In a more narrow sense, stories can grow from true experiences of the writer. Violet and I have a good number of similarities: we both are shy, we both have a younger sister, we both when we were at similar age had a strong sense of self in Christ, but a weak sense of self in the world. (ie where do I fit? What can I contribute?…questions most people ask at one point or another in their lives, if not more) However, our similarities end there. I have loving, supportive parents, a sister who is also a friend, and a good, secure upbringing. I drew on the feelings I had and sometimes still have of feeling shy of people and so on, but had to create new reasons for her shyness and new experiences for her that would shape how she grows as a character throughout her book.
- Finally, as a Christian writer, there is a Truth from which my stories grow. In Penelope’s Hope, I chose to write about finding Hope in Christ, in God’s promises in Him. In Violet’s Daybreak, it was the light that God’s Salvation in Christ brings to our lives and to our hearts. With all of my writing, I strive to have God’s action in people’s lives be central to the story, as it is in the lives of people.
It is His movement and His grace which brings us to places of rest, which grows us, and which brings us ever nearer His heart. This is what I pray is reflected in my writing.