the struggle that holds the key. ...
A few years ago, I sent a draft
of one of my novels to a copyeditor. I was shocked when, a week later,
I received an angry message from her. She couldn’t understand why I had
killed off two characters she had fallen in love with. “They escaped
slavery and finally found a place where they could live in complete
freedom, only to be brutally murdered. Their whole lives were ahead of
Then later, after she finished
the book, she apologized, saying she understood why they had to die and
explained how their experiences brought back a painful memory in her
own life. She even thanked me because she found healing through the
experience. “Your book even changed how I view God,” she said. I don’t
know about you, but I’ll take a comment like that from a reader (or
Conflict and adversity play a
critical role in what gives fiction that life-transforming quality.
Give me a novel with flawed characters facing some kind of terrible
adversity, where everything dear to them hangs in the balance. It
doesn’t matter if the protagonist seems to make more mistakes than
getting things right; it’s the struggle that holds the key. After all,
the only thing better than learning from your own mistakes is learning
from the failures of others.
When I was a kid, Superman was
my favorite superhero. Who wouldn’t love a guy that could leap tall
buildings, or was more powerful than a locomotive? But let’s face it;
even Superman would be super boring if it wasn’t for Kryptonite and his
complicated relationship with Lois Lane.
Conflict and adversity not only
make a story more interesting, but they add depth and a sense of
realism the readers relate to through the lenses of their own
experiences. Okay, so maybe the
reader has never rescued the
a group of terrorists bent on killing the population with a doomsday
virus, but they do know what it is to be afraid. In true life,
adversity shapes us into who we are as people, and in our novels, it
has the power to affect the reader in the same way.
Anyone who has ever read Redeeming
Love by Francine Rivers will testify to the depth of emotion
experienced by the reader as they follow Sarah’s tragic life beginning
with witnessing her father’s brutal rejection and the heartache that
followed. However, it’s the heartache and adversity of the story that
provide the backdrop for the novel’s powerful demonstration of God’s
If you haven’t yet read Redeeming
Love, I highly recommend it. It’s a first-rate example of
life-transforming fiction at its very best.