Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Story You Need to Write

by Hilarey Johnson

When I was a kid, I asked my dad, “Why is it every song a girl sings is about a guy and every song a guy sings is about a girl? It’s always about love.”

He said, “What else is there?”

Romantic love.

I was married with a baby before I discovered Christian fiction. As a nursing mom (no money, lots of time) I devoured every book my grandma and mother-in-law bought.

After awhile, I grew tired of romances. Happily-ever-afters made me feel like I had received my quota...I was already married.

I started to write stories about other loves women experience. I wrote about adoption and healing after an affair. This was also about the time I started to attend conferences and discover most people who buy books really want romance in them.  

Romantic love.

What else is there? (Well, as Christians, we know.)

Susan Bell writes in The Artful Edit, (p. 10-11) “Write the story that needs to be written—not what you want to write. Refrain from imposing an inorganic idea in it or turn it into something it isn’t meant to be.
To write falsely is to not write at all.”

Although actually, that kind of writing usually means you have a job. If you are a ghost writer/blogger or write for newspapers, you know what I mean.

When I started Sovereign Ground I began it as a traditional romance with her perspective in the first chapter and his in the second…

But it mysteriously disappeared one day. It wasn’t the first partial book I’d lost or saved over, so I simply said “OK God, how should the book start?”
God answered, but it wasn't what I expected. It was the kind of story I wouldn't have attempted: spiritual suspense, the sex industry, vulnerability, and the innate need women have to be desired. It was the story that needed to be written.

I am a different person because of the experience, and because of the finished story. Follow Bell’s advice and do not impose your ideas on your story.

But go ahead and add a little romantic love.


Hilarey Johnson’s first novel, Sovereign Ground released May 2014. Connect with Hilarey on Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads Author Page or sign up for her newsletter to hear about freebies. 

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