April McGowan

What I Learn From My Characters

Writers are a bit like actors.  Let me qualify that by saying I never wanted to be an actor.  Being in front of people like that isn’t something I yearn for.  However, I was a TV addict as a child.  I don’t think we needed a TV guide because I always knew what was on at any given moment–even re-runs.  If an episode caught my imagination, I would replay it in my memory, change the ending, or extend it out.   I guess I wrote fan-fiction in my head as a kid–but I had no idea that’s what it was!

My kids don’t know what re-runs are, really.  They don’t know that if we missed a show in our youth, my husband and I had to hope they’d run it again in summer and we’d live in anticipation of catching it later.  VCR’s were futuristic and expensive, so we didn’t have one.  Today, if we miss a show, we can catch it on the internet.  I find it ironic that now I have the capability to watch EVERYTHING that is on, I really don’t want to.  Nor do I have the time.

I digress.  Back to my original statement—writers are a bit like actors.  First we imagine a character, and get to know them by writing their backgrounds (family, friends, childhood experiences) to learn how they would act in certain situations.  Then we pull them on, step into their lives and move about, seeing how they feel, what they think, what they want from life.  It’s been said, although I can’t remember by whom, that in order to understand someone you have to walk a mile in his or her shoes.  (I could Google this quote, but that would sidetrack us).

I learn a lot from my characters.  Being a writer of faith, I often learn about God.  Verses I haven’t thought of for years come to mind.  Situations that my characters are going through might draw them closer to God and that gives me new insight into Him as well.  They grow and I grow.  Oftentimes my character will say something truly enlightening that I’ve never thought of before in that context, or maybe not at all.  Those are the wonder moments.

Right now I’m learning about walking by faith.  This happens at many stages in people’s lives, not just one.  I’ve been here countless times, and I will be again.  It’s about growing in my walk with the Lord, and I hope I never stop doing that.  I put one foot in front of the other and keep going, praying God will guide my steps.  I’m expanding a book I hope will pass muster and earn an interview with a publisher this summer.  I don’t know if all this effort will get me there, but I’m learning a lot—and anytime that happens, it’s not a waste.  All I know is that there is a possibility before me, and if I give it all I’ve got and pray, then I’ve done my part.

One of my favorite passages from the Bible is a large section on faith.  Rather than copying the whole section, I encourage you to read it yourself.  It’s starts off like this:

Hebrews 11

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. To read the rest of the chapter, please click HERE

What do you think? Leave me a comment :)

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