Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I Should Be a Reverent Writer

by Marsha Ward

Last Sunday I gave the Relief Society lesson, filling in for the teacher, whose mother died. The title was: "We Should be a Reverent People." As I pondered this subject, preparing to introduce it to the sisters in my branch, I wondered what kind of example I set?

Personally, I hope I'm doing okay. Professionally, I have some questions about how to remain reverent and still write my characters so that they are true-to-life.
  • When I'm writing about a profane and no-good character, do I use his language?
  • Can he refer to other characters in coarse terms?
  • Do I allow him to swear and take the Lord's name in vain?
  • How many times can a character under duress cry out to God before it becomes a vain repetition?
  • Is even considering using the name of God in a novel an indication that I've sunk into an irredeemable pit?
I still don't have good answers. I hope you'll help me with your comments.


Stephanie Humphreys said...

Those are things I have wondered about as well. I always figured that if I could describe a sunset in such vivid terms that a reader could see it, without resorting to cliche, I should be able to describe a character and a situation without resorting to the "cliche" bad language, etc. It is something I challenge myself to do.

Marsha Ward said...

Good for you, Stephanie. Since I sometimes write about really bad people, I struggle with how to depict them, yet hold true to my standards. It's a hard task.

Stephanie Humphreys said...

I think you do it really well.

Tristi Pinkston said...

I loved having that lesson in our ward, as well. It is indeed a fine line we walk as authors -- we want to stay true to our beliefs but how to do that and write fiction that sells. This is one that takes a lot of prayer, but my best answer would be for us to go with our guts. They'll lead us right.

Marsha Ward said...

Thank you, Stephanie. As I work on the third novel in my series, I find myself getting closer to the line. I need to jerk myself back and think about how to to do this job I've set up for myself.

I agree with Tristi. Prayer and gut feelings.

Janette Rallison said...

It's a difficult line to walk--great blog, Marsha.

Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...

There are always many ways in which to portray evil and coarse characters without swearing or reducing yourself to vulgarity.