Tuesday, June 10, 2014

True Lies: Writing Stories that Resonate

Myra & friend at a recent book signing
Writing fiction is easy, right? We just make stuff up!

Wrong!

For anyone writing either historical or contemporary fiction, I don’t expect any arguments about the necessity of research. We gather information about places, customs, fashions, careers, historical events, and much more, all because we want our stories to reflect the truth about the setting and era we’re writing about.

Even fantasy, sci-fi, and speculative writers can’t entirely escape a certain amount of research. At the very least, they must plan carefully so that the “facts” of their imagined worlds remain consistent and believable.

But today I’m not talking about research or fact-finding. I’m talking about a different kind of truth, the kind that will resonate with your readers long after the story ends.

We’ve talked in Seekerville before about theme and Moral Premise (see links below to a few of those posts). These are the “big truths” your story portrays. As Dr. Stanley Williams states in his book The Moral Premise: Harnessing Virtue and Vice for Box Office Success,
“Good stories tell us something that rings true about our experience as human beings.”
This truth is what readers are hungry for, even if they don’t consciously realize it. It’s the truth that gets them in the heart, revealing aspects about themselves, their relationships, or their worldview, possibly in ways they may never have considered.

How do we, as fiction writers, incorporate the kind of truth that resonates?

Three-dimensional characters. By making our characters fully human, not just stereotypical cardboard cutouts, we give our readers someone “real” to connect with. Think about your character’s fears, dreams, mannerisms, or likes and dislikes. For example, Sandra Leesmith’s Skye Larsen in Love’s Refuge dreads the changes coming to her peaceful island in Puget Sound. Resistance to change in something many readers can relate to.

Universal emotions. Lisa Wingate’s novel The Prayer Box resonates on several emotional levels: a mother’s constant worry about her children’s wellbeing; fear of one’s past catching up; yearning for real love; searching for God. Even something as simple as describing a rainy day or the smell of new school supplies can strike a chord of emotional truth in your reader.

Shared experience. In Ruth Logan Herne’s Running on Empty, Anne Kellwyn carries a painful secret that destroyed her marriage. Readers who have experienced anything similar to what Anne went through can easily empathize with her anger, shame, and determination to create a better future.

Challenging beliefs and perspectives. Tamera Alexander’s historical romance To Whisper Her Name explores attitudes in the South following the Civil War, particularly the convictions of one man who was branded a traitor when he chose to fight for the Union. The growth he and the other characters experience can shed light on how each of us responds to cultural pressure.

Difficult choices. In my novel When the Clouds Roll By, Samuel must choose between remaining loyal to a friend or pursuing the woman he’s falling in love with. When there are no simple answers, such as when either choice could hurt someone the character cares about, what core truths will the character draw upon to make important decisions?

Wise mentors. Tina Radcliffe covered this topic in depth last week. If you missed it, check it out! Mentor characters can illuminate truth by pointing out our central characters’ bad choices or skewed values. Mentors are often the “accountability police” for our stories, guiding the hero or heroine toward the right path.

Can you think of other examples of how stories reveal truth, whether through the “big picture” or in smaller, more immediate ways? Share from your own writing or from a favorite book or movie.

Read related discussions in the following Seekerville blog posts:

Melanie Dickerson: Theme: How can I use it for a more powerful reading experience?
Theme: How can I use it for a more powerful reading experience? - See more at: http://seekerville.blogspot.com/2014/03/theme-how-can-i-use-it-for-more.html#sthash.AUhEi2D7.dpuf
Theme: How can I use it for a more powerful reading experience? - See more at: http://seekerville.blogspot.com/2014/03/theme-how-can-i-use-it-for-more.html#sthash.AUhEi2D7.dpuf
Theme: How can I use it for a more powerful reading experience? - See more at: http://seekerville.blogspot.com/2014/03/theme-how-can-i-use-it-for-more.html#sthash.AUhEi2D7.dpuf

Stan Williams: Seekerville welcomes Dr. Stanley Williams, "The Moral Premise Guy"

Mona Hodgson: The Truth in Fiction

Missy Tippens: Charting Your Way to a Story--The Moral Premise

~~~~~~~~

Mention your interest in a comment to be entered in a drawing for an autographed copy of Myra’s latest release, Whisper Goodbye (Till We Meet Again, book 2), from Abingdon Press.

Crippled both physically and emotionally by his war injuries, First Lt. Gilbert Ballard struggles to find himself again in civilian life. After breaking his engagement to Annemarie Kendall, he has found solace in the arms of Mary McClarney, a spunky Irish immigrant nurse he met at the Army and Navy Hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Yet Mary’s love for Gilbert goes unreturned.

If it’s not Gilbert’s insane jealousy over his former fiancée’s new marriage, it’s his addiction to pain killers and gambling that thwarts Gil’s own happiness. Worse, Gilbert’s mother, Evelyn, continually reminds him of what he lost when he pushed Annemarie away. Under Evelyn’s critical eye, Mary fights to believe in her worth, wondering if she will ever be enough.

 As Mary longs for the day when Gilbert will finally let go of the past and learn to love her as she loves him, she realizes that the only way to open Gilbert’s heart is to whisper her goodbyes . . . and pray God will bring them back together.

87 comments :

  1. Hi Myra! Great post. I absolutely loved When the Clouds Rolled By. Please enter me in the drawing - cant wait to read the next book!

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  2. “If truth is the switch that turns the lights on, then wisdom is the illumination itself. Enlighten your readers with wisdom. Show the universal hiding in the singular. Let readers uncover these insights on their own. For wisdom gained in solitude will resonate the deepest.”

    …or something like that. : )

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  3. *trying to sneak back in here and hope nobody remembers I've been AWOL for months*

    I've been busy. Really I have. I had a short story published in February, then my contest novella was released last month. I'm still working at the law firm plus I do virtual assistant work for an author who started self-publishing. And I have some big news I'm not quite ready to announce yet.

    Life's good despite my ex hauling me back to court to modify alimony. I work for my attorney, so she's giving me a discount since I also do as much of the leg work myself as possible. My sons are upset with him.

    But I did visit my younger son in Asheville, NC over Memorial Day weekend and met his lovely girlfriend and her parents. We had a wonderful day visiting the Carl Sandburg home, Connemara. It was so inspiring to see his actual books and typewriter and even his shoes beside his rocking chair. I needed that weekend as long-overdue food for my soul.

    I'll try not to be such a stranger. I'd offer muffins but I started Weight Watchers yesterday and I'm off baked goods. ;-)

    Writing is easy. Yeah, right. Some sports writer said all you have to do is sit at the typewriter and open a vein. So true, so true.

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  4. Coffee is here! And I've got a huge box of pastries from Jackson's Bakery, an iconic little bakery that turns out more food/square foot than most huge counterparts could dream of! Grab a Danish or a sweet bun or some breakfast pie!!!!! It's virtual, so no harm!

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  5. Great post Myra! I love posts that have links that refer back to something similar. It's sort of like sitting at a table with books all around and your trusty laptop doing in depth research.

    I would love to win a copy of Whisper Goodbye. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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  6. Myra, first, thank you for using Running on Empty as an example and it fits beautifully.

    I've gotten more facebook messages and e-mails on that book than any other and it's because the topic of childhood abuse is far too prevalent. So you're right, the story touches readers and not just those who've had some kind of unfortunate experience in that realm, but mothers, daycare providers, coaches, teachers... So many have written to me and there are anti-abuse organizations like "Stop it Now" that have promoted the book on their websites for awareness and healing.

    When a story reflects people's reality, it touches hearts and souls.

    I find that with Lisa Wingate books. Whether it's her newer books, Bethany House, NAL or her old Texas Cooking series (all on my keeper shelf) I find she touches me in a way that makes me pause, think and commiserate. LaVyrle Spencer did that to me, too. And Karen White and Deb Smith... For some reason their work resonates, and I think it's the reflectiveness you talked about. And they tend to do tougher heroines, and I'm a pull-yourself-up-by-you-bootstraps girl so maybe that's part of it?

    Must go back to the prairies of Nebraska, almost done with that sweet look at yesteryear... I love how delving 150 years into the past cleanses any whining I might be inclined to do. Those women were tough as nails or they didn't make it... I love it!!!!

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  7. Hmmm...just finished reading Brenda Anderson's debut novel, Chain of Mercy and would have to say that it definitely made an impact on me. It's truth revolves around mercy and raises all kinds of questions. Very real, very gritty. Really made me examine how I apply mercy not only to myself but to others. Very worthwhile read.

    Thanks for making me think deep this morning, Myra.

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  8. Myra, excellent post on writing stories that give readers a truth they're hungry for. A heavy responsibility for sure, but the reason we write. Thanks for the examples of how we can use craft to get it done.

    I brought hard boiled eggs, yogurt and apple fritters for breakfast.

    Janet

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  9. Great to see you, Marilyn B! No need to sneak in. Have one of my boiled eggs with salt and pepper. Or is that off WW's list?

    Janet

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  10. Easy? Ha! Writing's tougher than any job I ever held. And, friend, all of your books have left a lasting impression on me. Can't wait to see you on Saturday!

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  11. Thanks for a good post, Myra!—great information! I appreciate the links referring back to more of the subject—I do sometimes get side-tracked.

    But that's okay too! :-)

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  12. Books that reveal truth.

    My brain is just sort of stalled this morning.

    Hoping with a little more time to wake up I can contribute to this because I think it's great.

    The books that really touch us are the ones that tap into truth.

    And yet, due to morning brain fog, I can give you NO EXAMPLES!!!

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  13. KAV...I was just thinking the EXACT OPPOSITE!!!

    MYRA STOP MAKING ME THINK DEEP THIS MORNING!!!

    It's possible I've pulled a muscle in my brain.

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  14. this is a great post Myra. I'm going to look at my characters to double check to see if I have created them to possess anything that resonates with people.

    I also appreciate the links to previous posts. my brain is still a little fried from the writing frenzy i just finished, so I can't help with examples right now.

    as always, i just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your book covers. my first thought each time is : Wow!

    i'd love to have my name in the drawing for Whisper Goodbye

    p.s. Mary your comments need a spew alert. especially the Yoda one.

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  15. LOL, Myra, LOVE the title of this blog today, not only because it's the name of one of my favorite movies, but because it's SOOOO true!! There's a little bit of truth (or a lot) in every single novel we write because humans relate to human tragedy, trials, and joys, and where better to get that vital connection than from our lives or the lives of others?

    LOVE this statement: "This truth is what readers are hungry for, even if they don’t consciously realize it. It’s the truth that gets them in the heart, revealing aspects about themselves, their relationships, or their worldview, possibly in ways they may never have considered."

    That's really what great fiction is all about, isn't it?

    You asked: "Can you think of other examples of how stories reveal truth, whether through the “big picture” or in smaller, more immediate ways? Share from your own writing or from a favorite book or movie."

    The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner actually did that for me, nailing me between the eyes at a certain point in the story with a spiritual revelation that rocked my world.

    As far as my own work, I found that happened on my last book in the Heart of San Fran series, which releases in Oct. I incorporate a lesson the hero refers to as "The Abraham Factor," which basically is the concept of putting our hearts desires on the altar to let God do what He wills with them. Not only did the hero and subordinate hero have to learn (and apply) this lesson, but I found that I did, too, while I was actually writing it, so it became a revelation for me as well as the characters.

    Great post, Myra!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  16. Hi Myra,
    What a good way to start the day. I JUST finished "Whisper Goodbye." Mary's part of the story was so emotionally gripping, to see her torn apart by her feelings for Gilbert but determined to stay true to God. To me, that was a real-life issue and a painful one.
    I got the book from my library -- our library director has excellent taste and keeps me supplied with inspirational books -- but I would really like to have my own copy, so enter me in the drawing.
    Kathy Bailey
    Resonating in New Hampshire

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  17. Good Morning, Seekerville!!!

    Yes, I am extra-happy this morning because I had been summoned for jury duty today but found out late yesterday that I'd been "randomly" excused. I've served on juries in the past and was glad to do my civic duty, but this time--besides being my day in Seekerville--the timing just wasn't great.

    So here I am--yay!!!

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  18. LOVES TO READ, I'm so glad you enjoyed WTCRB--thank you!

    VINCE, what a cool quote! Where's it from?

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  19. MARILYN, welcome back! The great think about Seekerville is that the door is always open and you're family no matter how long you've been away.

    Congrats on the short story and the novella release! So sorry about the other problems, but it sounds like working in an attorney's office, you have people looking out for you. Hang in there!

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  20. Hi, Myra, I loved this post. Please enter my name in the drawing.

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  21. RUTHY, we knew we could count on you for some delicious goodies!

    Hi, CINDY! Glad you found the links helpful. There's always more to absorb on any given writing technique. What's great about different bloggers discussing the same or similar topics is that everybody brings a slightly different perspective.

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  22. Thanks, RUTHY. In my opinion, you can count yourself among the outstanding authors who write books with resonance.

    You're also not afraid to tackle challenging emotional subjects. Yep, just like your heroines, you are one tough cookie!

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  23. In Stuck Together Vince Yates is dealing with his mother who has early onset Alzheimer's, of course in a time that no one knew what that meant.

    What Vince really struggles with is his usual ability to handle EVERYTHING. And with this, he just can't fix it, can't understand it, can't do anything but accept it. And that goes against his most basic nature.

    Maybe learning to accept that which we cannot change is a basic truth.

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  24. KAV, thanks for the book recommendation! I love stories that engage my emotions and make me reexamine my own attitudes and opinions.

    Although thinking this deep this early in the morning isn't usually my modus operandi. :-/

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  25. JANET, your stories are also always thought-provoking and emotionally riveting--lots of truth in them!

    Thanks for providing us with some healthy, sensible breakfast fare! I've been trying to work out more lately--too many winter pounds to shed before RWA!

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  26. DORA!!! Great to see you here! And thank you for your sweet words. Yes, writing is a tough job, even the "making stuff up" part.

    See you soon!

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  27. MARY HICKS, glad you found some help in today's post. Thanks for stopping in!

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  28. Hi Myra,

    Your posts are always so thoughtful. In my Regency, The Duke's Dilemma (after changing the title 5 times, this is it), the moral theme is sex trafficking. I wanted this to show the two sides of society--one that treated women as pampered pets and the other that used them in horrible ways. I came away realizing women and children have been used this way throughout history and still are.

    Would love the chance to win your book.

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  29. Hey Marilyn, have a coffee on me. They are calorie free! Good to SEE you!

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  30. MARY, I agree--too early in the morning for deep thought. That's why I always work on my posts after I've been awake and active (relatively speaking) for a while.

    Okay, Yoda. Yes, he definitely is a truth teller.

    And Vince (the character, not our Seekerville bud). What a great hero. (Okay, the real Vince is a pretty cool guy, too.) I would agree that learning to accept what we can't change is a basic truth we all eventually have to confront.

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  31. This is a very subtle yet, insightful and powerful post, Miz Myra. If we don't hit on some of these factors our books will not resonate. I dare to say that when we get reader letters they always reflect the fact that a reader somewhere identified with our words.

    Reader Identification is what makes our stories resonate.

    Excellent post.

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  32. DEB H, if I've inspired you to look more deeply to see if your characters resonate, then my work is done here. :-D

    Seriously, sometimes the resonance comes when we aren't really trying that hard, when we just give our characters room to come to life on the page. Somehow the emotional connection follows.

    Thanks for your comments about my book covers! Abingdon has been so great to listen to my input and turn it into something gorgeous!

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  33. JULIE!!! I loved the movie True Lies, too! Arnold and Jamie? An incongruous pairing, but they were so cute together! (My favorite scene was Jamie's pole dance--LOL!!!!)

    "The Abraham Factor"--love it. What a perfect example of laying our desires at the altar of God. And isn't it amazing how sometimes the truths our characters are learning are also exactly the issues we need to confront in ourselves?

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  34. KATHY, thank you! I'm so glad Mary's story resonated with you! When I was first writing When the Clouds Roll By and Mary walked onstage, I had no clue she'd become such a pivotal character and eventually have her own book.

    This is why I love being a seat-of-the-pants writer so much!!!!!

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  35. Hi, WILANI! Glad you enjoyed today's blog. You're in the drawing!

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  36. ELAINE, your book sounds riveting. You're so right about the sex trade being prevalent in every century. Hard to believe how women continue to be used and abused even today, and even in enlightened societies. I like your idea of presenting two different aspects of the issue.

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  37. TINA, you're right. Reader letters usually mention some aspect of the story that rang true with them. It's that point of connection we're always hoping for, and it's always so nice to get those letters, isn't it?

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  38. Morning Myra and thanks for sharing about Skye and her fears in Love's Refuge. She was a fun character to write and it humbles me as to how much she affected readers.

    You write characters like that also. I think many readers will relate to the trust issues Mary faced in Whisper Goodbye.

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  39. Thanks, SANDRA! I haven't experienced the kind of trauma that led to Skye's fears, but I do relate to her preference for a quiet life away from the noise and confusion of big cities.

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  40. Do I see huge smiles on the faces of all those determined writers who finished their manuscripts and made their Killer Voices deadlines?

    Congrats to all of you!!!!

    Such an accomplishment! You should feel proud...we're proud of you!

    Hugs!

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  41. Lovely post, Myra! Very thoughtful and important.

    I like to think the stories that resonate with readers also provide healing for those still troubled by issues in the past. Hopefully when our heroes and heroines conquer their own fears, misconceptions, mistakes, our readers are given the tools they need to heal as well. For some, it's a been there, done that experience. For others, the story shows them steps they can take to become whole again. At least that's our hope as authors.

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  42. I still remember reading a children's story to my daughter when she was in elementary school. The book was about three girlfriends saying goodbye to one of the group who had to move to another state with her parents.

    As an Army brat, I moved often. Those goodbyes were hard. As the characters bid farewell to their dear friend, I relived my childhood separations and started to cry. Not a tear or two, but big sobs. My daughter didn't know what was happening to Mommy, but I knew. I was revisiting my past and feeling the pain of all those farewells.

    I still think about that bedtime story that touched me so deeply.

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  43. Marilyn,
    We've missed you! Good to see your smiling face today.

    Hugs!

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  44. Hi, DEBBY! Yes, congrats indeed to our intrepid Killer Voices crew!

    I believe that as we write about heroes and heroines overcoming their deepest issues, we're not just hoping to touch readers' hearts but also somehow healing ourselves.

    And goodbyes are hard at any age. I cried for days after we sent our missionary kids back to Ethiopia. Our other daughter recently sent her firstborn son to Navy basic training. Knowing she couldn't even talk to him on the phone for the first three weeks was really, really hard.

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  45. HI Myra! As always, your post is thoughtful and particularly timely for me. I actually read it last night and came back this morning to reread it more carefully with my current WIP in mind. It made me zero in on some things that my characters can do to connect with readers. Thank you!

    Congratulations on the new book and I'd love to be in the drawing.

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  46. Thanks, LYNDEE! Glad you found the post helpful for your wip. We don't always have to focus onthe "big truths," either. Little things that make our characters seem more human can help readers connect with the story and make them care.

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  47. Myra, I loved this post. I haven't thought a lot about how to challenge perspectives and beliefs of my characters, and even using things happening in the culture to do this. What a great suggestion! Of course, all your suggestions were great. :)

    I'm definitely going to consider these as I dive into my next wip. Thanks for this!

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  48. Thanks, JEANNE! There are so many possibilities related to cultural beliefs and attitudes. For instance, women's role in the home vs. workplace. Single parenthood. Treatment of war veterans. Animal rights.

    So many issues like these are not clearly black and white, so there's room to explore all the aspects.

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  49. Myra, I love that the characters just walk onstage with you, too....

    I LOVE THAT SO MUCH.

    A cool add-in can offer so much more depth to a story. I'm working on novellas right now, so I have to be careful (even more careful than with my sweet Love Inspireds!!!) about air time for walk-ons, but it's part of that reality-based romance... Or as my buddy Vince calls it "Romance Realism"... Apt!!!!

    I find this is a little different in the historicals. Their reality was so different from ours (like Mary noted in her EXTREMELY LONG-TITLED POST last week) that tragedies like Alzheimers, brain tumors, mental illnesses, death by childhood illness and/or malaria/pneumonia/tuberculosis... Oh my stars, it's a wonder enough of them LIVED.

    And the lack of knowledge is a huge differential when I'm writing historicals because they were shooting in the dark sometimes... and often missing.

    So this is great info to carry into those stories from a lack-of-knowledge perspective, too.

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  50. So right, RUTHY. Writing historicals as as much about what people didn't know back then as it is about what was going on in the world. In my Till We Meet Again series, I addressed things like mental illness and post-traumatic stress--problems the medical profession of that era really didn't know much about or how to treat.

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  51. Well, y'all, hubby is nudging me to run over to the health club with him for a workout. Believe me, I need it desperately!!!

    Chat amongst yourselves, and I'll be back in an hour or so!

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  52. Great post, Myra, and timely as well. I just wrote the ending scene of my murder mystery novel (no, not THE END, but just the closing scene, as it had been pounding around in my head for days and I just HAD to get it out), and was thinking about what I want my character to learn through her adventure. I have some ideas, but this post will help me examine it further.

    As for an example of truths in fiction or movies, I just watched the remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. So good! I loved the original, but this was thought-provoking and made me smile. Basically, Walter just kind of drifts through life, not making connections, until he has an adventure. The movie shows us the need to connect with LIFE and others. Check it out.

    I'd love to win a copy of your book! Sign me up!

    Have a great day!

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  53. What a fantastic list, Myra! All great ways to deepen the story. Thanks for sharing the ideas! My brain is already clicking for the wip. :)

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  54. Marilyn, it's great to see you back!! We missed you.

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  55. VINCE, what a great quote! Is that from Stan's book?

    By the way, we just got back from Orange Beach! Had another wonderful vacation there. :)

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  56. Vince, I love that quote... and I agree, the more that the reader infers and identifies, the greater the impact of the crater on the lunar surface of the heart.

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  57. STEPHANIE! We just rented Walter Mitty recently! Cute movie! Fun how he started getting involved in life and had all those great adventures!

    Congrats on discovering your final scene! I always write in a linear fashion, but I do usually have an idea of how I want the story to end. Knowing the destination helps keep me on track as I write the beginning and middle scenes.

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  58. Enjoyed your post, Myra, with tips on writing stories that ring true in the heart. I'll use it as a checklist for my own stories.
    For an example, I'm thinking of the film I saw last night called Ordinary Miracles. In a nutshell, a judge takes in a troubled teen while she's struggling with the chaos in her own life. While trying to help the girl this woman faces the truth about herself and finds ways to help both of them. Thanks for all the other examples mentioned They've been bookmarked.

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  59. MISSY, glad you had a fun getaway! We enjoyed our time in Hot Springs the end of May. Nice to have a week with no pressure and no schedules to keep.

    I'm starting to get caught up again, but now hubby has talked me into these workouts at the health club. We rode stationary bikes this afternoon. I think I went a little over three miles. I DON'T think I burned enough calories to counteract my daily piece of chocolate, however!

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  60. Stephanie and Myra, I enjoyed Walter Mitty too.

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  61. PAT JEANNE, that movies sounds interesting! Where did you see it? I must be sure to look it up!

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  62. Hi Myra!

    I love this topic. The whole concept of portraying truth in fiction was why I started writing. I've seen how fiction can deeply affect people and how they think about God, the world, themselves, the future....

    You gave some great examples.

    I can't think of any myself - I'm brain dead from writing all day - but please put my name in the drawing anyway!

    Thanks!

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  63. JAN, I totally relate to "brain dead," but great that you had a productive writing day!

    I just thought of another movie that resonates truth. Have y'all seen Gifted Hands with Cuba Gooding Jr.? It's the story of Dr. Ben Carson and his journey from an underprivileged childhood and poor grades in school to becoming a groundbreaking pediatric neurosurgeon. There is so much truth and inspiration in his mother's commitment to her children and her efforts to push and encourage them to fulfill their highest potential. I'd say she succeeded!

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  64. Myra, your list of issues was good. :) I forgot to mention, will you please put me in the drawing for your book? Thank you!

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  65. Truth in fiction. Well, I'd say we are really fortunate to be writing during a time when publishing wants, and readers are hungry for books written in a Christian world view that portray normal walks.

    That is normal culpable, imperfect people who are Christians.

    It hasn't always been that way. It used to be Christian fiction portrayed some Barbie doll Christianity.

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  66. So true, Tina.

    I didn't like Christian fiction much in those days.

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  67. Absolutely, JEANNE!

    TINA, I agree. It's so nice to be able to portray real Christians facing real struggles and real faith issues. Jesus didn't come to save perfect people. He came for the rest of us.

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  68. Myra Johnson said...
    Seriously, sometimes the resonance comes when we aren't really trying that hard, when we just give our characters room to come to life on the page.


    Oh my yes! It's wonderful to lean back from the computer, look at the words on the screen, and wonder, "Where did that come from?" I always hope that if it touches me, it will touch the reader.

    And so many times I have looked up from reading and paused in recognition of some truth tucked away in the simplest of words.

    Thanks for such a thoughtful post, Myra. No need to enter me in the drawing (I already have the book).

    Nancy C

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  69. Myra, I just read that book, "Gifted Hands".... and I've got Ben's "One Nation" here, but people keep borrowing it! So I grabbed a Mary Connealy book to read this week because I am SORELY behind!!!!

    I didn't know they made a movie out of it! And I love Cuba Gooding, Jr....

    Stinkin' adorable!!!

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  70. Tina and Jan: Me, either.

    I'm so glad we're verging on "normal" now, at least way more normal than was true twenty years back.

    YAY.

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  71. NANCY, I know the feeling! It's really fun to reread something I wrote and be surprised to find it works on levels I never consciously planned.

    RUTHY, the movie is great! So inspiring! It was really done well.

    Just watched another Netflix movie, Parental Guidance. Silly, but some real truths about family relationships. Some movies and novels are definitely more memorable than others, but there's usually a grain of truth there somewhere if we're watching for it.

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  72. “The smell of new school supplies..” Oh, you zinged my heart with that one! I loved being a teacher!
    Lesson learned today: Write to connect!

    For this prayer guide/workbook/bible study I am writing, I already had a big list going: get the readers emotionally involved, provide motivation, give them ownership of the process, and promote community. (Part of that will have to be face to face at the meetings.)

    What I was missing was a Personal Connection to the writing!!
    Thank You, Myra!!!

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  73. Oh & please put me in the drawing!
    Thanks Again!!

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  74. Myra, great points! Aren't we trying to touch people in the secret places of their hearts where they need the most TLC? Your post is so eloquent in its reasoning for our books and the passion that pushes us to write them.

    Thank you, Myra!

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  75. Great post, Myra!!

    I admit the whole theme thing has always stumped me, but these tips are really helpful! Thanks!

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  76. Wonderful post, Myra. I'm going to have to reread this one to make sure my mind absorbs it.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

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  77. Hi Missy:

    No, that quote came from reading Myra’s post late at night. It’s pantsered all the way. BTW: we are an end of summer Orange Beach couple. Top floor this time! Next trip up is Branson. : )

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  78. A very interesting post thank you.

    I'd love to read WHISPER GOODBYE thanks.

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  79. Compelling post. The novels you mentioned shined wiht realism. Put my name in for the drawing.
    Cindy Huff

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  80. JANA, so glad you found something helpful in today's post! Oh, yeah, who can forget the catch in the chest at the smell of new school supplies? I remember that feeling every time I walk into an office supply store.

    I'm sure your Bible study will be great! All the best with it!

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  81. You're welcome, AUDRA! Our personal passion for our stories is a huge factor in how well readers will connect with them.

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  82. NATALIE, I don't always consciously know the theme or Moral Premise of my story until I'm well into it. In fact, with a ms. I'm revising right now, I had a HUGE "aha moment" about what it's really about. It changed my whole approach!

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  83. TERRI, isn't it nice that we have all these fabulous posts in Seekerville to look back on whenever we need a refresher?

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  84. VINCE, you seriously made up that quote on the fly? You rock, man!!!

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  85. MARY P, thanks for stopping in during (for me, anyway!) the wee hours of the morning!

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  86. CINDY, glad you could stop in. I hope my examples prove helpful!

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