QUESTION: What is the one piece of writing advice that has stuck with you and why? (Something other than ‘write what you know.’)
Embed your passion into your books. A long time ago, an author friend explained that writers can add depth and meaning to their work by infusing what matters to them. Naturally, there are universal passions – we all care about our families, friends, health, safety, etc. But we also have our individual interests and concerns that evolved based on our experiences or just how God wired us up. What brings you joy? What stirs your heart? What makes you angry or drives you to take action? Having characters mirror these passions, even briefly, can ignite a spark in your writing.
I write Christian fiction, because my faith is important to me and I want it reflected in my books. I care about human trafficking, so there’s always a reference to it or a character that shares that concern. I believe people should encourage and help each other, so my heroes tend to be those kinds of people. And I love nature and worry about our environment. But…my plots do not center on those issues, they are simply reflected in my characters’ personalities and motivations.
In Healer, 17-year-old Shilo Giannelli discovers she possesses the spiritual gift of healing. This revelation turns her life inside out, leads her into danger and an unlikely friendship, and takes a toll on her relationship with her boyfriend. When bad things happen – she can’t heal someone she loves, her relationship falls apart, a gang seeks revenge – the gift feels more like a curse. But, she still trusts God and makes sacrifices to help others. My second main character, Misty Morning, has spent most of her life just trying to survive. When she gets pregnant at 16, her survival instinct expands to include her baby boy. Once she gets into a better situation and survival isn’t her main focus, Misty wants to become a person who can make a difference. One of the first stirrings we see in her happens when she watches a television show about human trafficking. I’d like to think there are a few readers who will read that scene, become aware of the human trafficking crisis, and decide to investigate further. Or better yet, act on it!
These are just a few of the ways I’ve incorporated my own passions into my writing. I’m grateful that Vinspire Publishing liked it enough to give me a contract!
As for loving nature and photography, I used those passions to write and indie-publish a children’s book titled Pawprints in the Snow: How God Protects Animals from the Cold. It is a melding of faith, science, wildlife, poetry and photography geared for children ages 3-9. Each poem is followed by a full-page photo and “fun facts” about the animals. Co-writing it with my sister, Patt Nicholls, truly made it a labor of love.
What stirs your heart? And what might happen if some of your characters were stirred by the same things? See how the passion you feel while writing adds color and intensity to a scene, and depth to your characters.