BJH: Writing Grace
As Christian novelists, I think many of us are continually aware of elements we don’t want to include in our work. There are excesses and "freedoms" and improprieties that simply don’t belong in the writing of those who create from a Christian worldview.
Just as an artist has choices in the elements she chooses to paint, so does the writer have choices in the stories she chooses to develop, the words she uses, the imaginary worlds she creates, and the people who inhabit those worlds. Occasionally there may be some grumbling about the "restrictions" of fiction written from a Christian worldview, about too many "do’s and don’t’s." But the truth is that we have many more choices for what we can write than what we shouldn’t write: a world of choices, really–a wealth of resources from which to draw whatever we need in order to create and add richness and beauty to our creation. The settings in which we place our stories, the characters in those stories, the arenas in which they contend and struggle, succeed and fail, what they give and what they take: with such limitless material at our disposal, need we really be concerned about what we can’t do?
An element that I long ago committed to keep always at work in my fiction is that of grace. I want to write grace, to weave naturally but freely through my stories the grace of God .... to have story people who are not only touched by divine grace but who also extend it to others ... and to explore the ways in which grace makes a difference in our lives and in our world. I see this in the writing of many other writers as well, and it sets their work apart and makes it "shine."
One line of thought would have us believe that for fiction to be "realistic" it must also be void of redemption and tenderness and hope. But not only is that dishonest fiction, it’s also unrealistic fiction. For the Christian writer, to even make a pretense of writing a novel without hope, without grace, would be a lie and an affront to what we profess to believe. In truth, I don't think I would ever write another word ... I don’t believe I could ... if I had to work in such a bleak, desolate climate.
We spend much time in our fictive worlds among our story people. I want those landscapes to be fertile and rich, and no matter how troubling the times or severe the struggles or tormenting the pain, I want "my people"–and my readers–to know hope.
As Christian writers, may we always have the courage and the conviction to write grace.
BJ Hoff recently completed The Song Weaver, the final title in her Mountain Song Legacy series, and will now take a long breath and a not-so-long break before starting all over again.