Deeper Than Frosting: Character Journeys

Sometimes the best part of a cake is the frosting. You know that 1/4 inch of pure sugar and fat on top of a spongy, moist cake. Sigh. Just thinking about it makes me hungry.

Cake without frosting is like smores without a chocolate bar in the middle, all wrong. Or how about Twinkies without the filling, or strawberry shortcake without the strawberries.

What if it was only frosting and a 1/4 inch of cake? Some of you are like, bring it on, but most of us like more cake than that. We want the contrast of the moist cake and a straight shot of sugary fat.

Our Character Journeys are the same way. Sometimes we have lots of frosting, but it doesn’t go deep enough to hit the moist and decadent layer below. In other words, it lacks depth.

There are some stories where we are intentionally reaching to the unbeliever and our faith journey in the novel is meant to reach those who are still on the frosting.

But not all novels can stay on the frosting. We need to dig deeper. Ask the hard questions so that those who’ve been through a lot in their faith walk are challenged and encouraged.

How can you determine if your sticking to the frosting in all of your novels, or digging deeper?

*Write down the spiritual theme of your hero/heroine. Whatever character change or deeper truth you plan for them to learn in your novel.

*Ask yourself, Is this something a nonchristian, a new believer or a mature christian is most likely to need to hear? Go through this process for both the hero/heroine.

*Look at what you’ve written down and see if that is where you want to land. Sometimes our faith elements are meant to be more on the surface, sometimes they are meant to ask deep faith questions.

One thing that you can do to layer your spiritual thread into your novel so that both the new believer and the mature Christian are challenged to grow, is to layer the theme on deeper levels throughout your characters. Tomorrow on my blog we will look closer at this and how to accomplish it.

How about you? Who do you target in the spiritual thread of your novel most often? Why?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

4 thoughts on “Deeper Than Frosting: Character Journeys

  1. Melissa Tagg says:

    Usually, I have to write half my book before I really grasp my spiritual theme. Half the time, the theme that I started out with changes. 🙂 I like to think my stories are ones nonbelievers could pick up and not be turned off by, but instead, intrigued by…no sermonizing…but the only downside of that is that it’s almost too easy to be too shallow or subtle. I do want the spiritual thread to have teeth…

  2. Beth K. Vogt says:

    I’ve done a lot of thinking about the spiritual thread of novel #2. One of my goals is to improve my skill at weaving in the spiritual thread as I write this book.
    I read an article about the 4 ways an author can weave in the spiritual thread. When I was done, I thought, “Huh. I don’t do it any of those ways.”
    And then I worried I was doing it wrong.
    Thought on it for a while … and realized I wasn’t. (What a relief!)
    I like to weave in spiritual truth in such a way that both a believer and a non-believer will stay engaged with the story — so that the conversation will continue, so to speak.
    I have my reasons for doing so –but this is a comment box, not a soap box.
    I’m bookmarking your post — lots of good things to consider as I rewrite book #2.
    (And FYI: Frosting is my favorite part of cake.)

  3. Michelle Lim says:

    The frosting is great, isn’t it? I have to be purposeful in my spiritual thread, but often God doesn’t give me the deeper pieces of it till toward the end of the book. During the editing stage I add a lot of build up to that moment.

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