Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in Hope through her novels, novellas, devotions, and nonfiction, and through speaking for women’s events/retreats and writers’ conferences/workshops. She draws from 33 years of experience writing and producing the 15-minute daily radio broadcast, “The Heartbeat of the Home.” Her books have received recognition from RT Reviewers’ Choice, PW Starred Review, Selah Awards, Christian Retailing’s BEST Awards, CLASSeminars Award of Excellence, Golden Scroll Awards, and more. She serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, is a board member of the Deliver Hope ministry, and is part of the worship team at her church. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.
Epiphany. It means one thing in the church calendar year—the day commemorating the Magi visit to the Christ Child—and means another in writer terms.
Writers view epiphanies most frequently from the alternate definition—a sudden insight, a moment of revelation. We discover the protagonist’s true, heretofore- unknown motivation. We realize in a flash how to extract a character from the corner into which we’ve painted him or her. It suddenly becomes clear how the book needs to end. We discover something about ourselves while writing about imaginary characters and their conflicts.
Writers love epiphanies. Almost as much as readers do.
Many of us considered it an epiphany moment when we discovered the true power of action verbs. He stormed to the car vs. He made his way to the car. She drove her point with dagger-like words vs. She spoke harshly.
As I reread the first chapters of the book of Luke during my Christmas preparations this year, I noted the action verbs in the prophet Zechariah’s perspective about the coming Messiah—Jesus. He blessed God for sending Jesus, whom He knew was mere months away from being born. In Zechariah’s blessing (Luke 1:68-75), he referred to God’s activity, not merely theological concepts. He listed, among others, these action words on God’s part:
He comes to help and delivers his people.
He raised up a might savior
He brought salvation from our enemies and from the power of all those who hate us
He shows the mercy promised
He rescues from the power of our enemies
Mary’s song of praise when explaining to Elizabeth that she’d been tasked with carrying the Messiah in her womb (Luke 1:47-55) includes these action words:
He scatters those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations
He pulls the powerful down from their thrones
He lifts up the lowly
He fills the hungry with good things
He comes to the aid of his servant
And why? That too is an epiphany for many of us. Why did God act by sending Jesus? “So that we could serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness in God’s eyes, for as long as we live,” Luke 1:75 CEB. We don’t need to wonder why. It’s spelled out clearly.
Some may believe faith—and writing—are passive. But compelling writing—and compelling faith—use action verbs.