Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Inspirational Romance

This is a repeat from an earlier blog post.

We're talking inspirational romance today. This is really a tough genre to write for but really one that is in hot demand if it is done well. Writers can be extremely successful with inspirational stories if they know what they are doing. Too often, when I see inspirationals come across my desk (which up until recently were accidents) I see stories that are really forced and lack that "umph" necessary to really be competitive in this market. Let me explain.

As I point out in the title of this post, writing inspirationals involves much more than simply having the characters pray about everything, remind themselves what they are doing by throwing scripture out every now and then, and eliminating the sex. Writing inspirationals really goes back to the same things I keep screaming about time and time again - what is the theme and thesis of your story?

When we look at the basic elements of this genre, we are looking at how one or more of the characters are transformed over time through inspiration and religion. Because it is also a romance, along the way, we are watching the growing attraction and emotion occuring between the charcters. All of the plot and character development through the story is guided by a single theme or idea that you want the reader to walk away with.

If, for example, you wanted to build a story around John 4:48 "Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe," you might set up the story where the heroine, involved in say an underprivledged education program has to bring the corporate hero down to her level just to see where the money is going to. Basic, straightforward but a theme that can guide the entire story.

Now, does this mean that the characters can't quote scripture or pray? Absolutely not, but this is not the only thing they should be doing. What we should be seeing in the story is very similar to the ideas that the Apostle Paul talks about with his idea of "justification by faith." The thing that comes first is the faith and then the actions follow, not the reverse.

I am currently reading Carla Capshaw's The Protector and I believe this does a great job with showing how the inspriational message is really guiding the characters. Why does it works so well here? It is set in ancient Rome so the characters are really lacking the ability to run around and quote Bible passages. It is strictly the faith issues that are guiding the characters.

The key to all of this is to be subtle. Use the Scripture and use the message as the theme to build the story around. It takes talent but you have to trust yourself to do it. Don't force the story.


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