Abuse a Common Core Dilemma in Novels


Photo from Morguefile.com

We have a challenge to create believable stories. Writers must draw from the world around them, transforming life experiences and lots of research into a story that moves the reader. Love stories that stir the romantic in all of us. Mysteries with twists and surprises which leave the reader satisfied at the solution. Historicals and Fantasies with a you-are-there feel. Whatever the genre, every story has to have a core dilemma. Something readers can relate to on some level.


Photo from morguefile.com

Core Dilemma

The latest novels I’ve read focused on the heroine dealing with abuse. Often verbal but at times physical. The two novels I have penned also deal with abuse on different levels. This topic is a very popular core dilemma in fiction. The storyline usually has the same key elements. The hero or heroine struggles to put the abuse in their past. They wrestle with the lies in their heads. And past abuse weighs heavily in their reactions to their present.

In some stories the abuse is in the moment and continues until deliverance takes place near the end of the story. Leaving the audience wondering how their life after the The End will all play out.

photo from morguefile.com

photo from morguefile.com

Time periods

Historicals may have a different story resolution than contemporary fiction. Laws and attitudes were very different in say 1840 or even 1950 than they are today. Domestic abuse was view differently in past centuries. A modern story may have a bolder response with organizations and laws to protect victims giving various options for the endings of contemporary novels.

photo by morguefile.com

photo by morguefile.com

Abuse is ever present

Why is it such a popular plot twist? Domestic abuse is a dark, ugly subject that is often easier to deal with in the pages of a novel. As the hero overcomes and becomes stronger the abused reader is given hope. The characters in our stories address the heart issues hidden inside the abused. Other characters either dear friends or villains can be influential in bringing healing for the reader. The friend can encourage or protect while the villain pushes the protagonist to face the demons of abuse and defeat them. Perhaps a crack in the armor of denial. Relatable story characters gaining victory over abuse brings hope to the reader. If the author is fortunate, he might get a fan letter saying his story inspired the reader to get help. What an awesome thought.

photo from moguefile.com

photo from moguefile.com

Victims know if your story rings true

Don’t soft sell the truth. Victims know the depth of their pain, and a whitewashed story of easy healing won’t fly with them. Be careful not to be too graphic lest you turn away readers who can’t stomach the details.

Get the facts right. Do your research. Present realistic conclusions even if the conclusion is a sad one. Some writers choose to mingle a lot of facts and provide strong secondary characters to bring about the healing. While others leave the ending unresolved in hopes readers will become aware of the problem and seek help for themselves or others.

As a Christian writer, my goal is to bring hope to a lost world. Not preaching or condemning but open a door to consider God is the strength needed to get through difficult times. So when I write about abuse He is the final solution that brings healing. Even if it requires the character to cling to their faith over time as layers of ugly abuse fall away.

What is a core dilemma pattern you’ve discovered in the last few books you’ve read?

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Terri Blackstone Writes True to Life in Her Novel Intervention

Intervention byTerri Blackstone is the kind of Christian Fiction a non-believer would find riveting.  The Covington Family has a crisis—eighteen
year old Emily is an addict. The book opens with an intervention. As a writer,
my mind is asking the question where will the story go after the intervention.
Emily is being taken from her home in Missouri by Trish, the counselor from a
rehab center in Atlanta. I imagine different story lines the novel could take.
Will the book evolve around Widow Barbara’s feelings at home? Will we be taken to the rehab center with Emily? Or perhaps we will watch her son Lance, spiral down into the same trap as his sister.

I wasn’t expecting where the plot actually went. Emily’s counselor murdered in her car at the Atlanta airport. Emily disappeared making her the prime suspect. Barbara and her son Lance go to Atlanta and search for
Emily, as well as interfere with the police investigation. Just when I thought
we’d found the real killer, there was something more.

Believable characters from personal experience

Terri’s characters were so believable. Barbara was very intense in her pursuit to find her daughter as any mother would be. At times she appears irrational and even rude.  Through her characterization Terri shows that Christians also react in the extreme when their family is in crisis. Barbara yells as well as lies, breaks things and her mental condition goes deeper to despair with every sleep deprived hour.

Terri has been willing to draw from her own personal experience as a mother whose daughterwent through the valley of drug addiction to bring us this story. The character of Emily portrays the sad truth so well. Her journal entries and comments show the reader how a drug addict thinks and reacts.
Bringing the reality that a Christian family’s struggle with addictions
is soul-wrenching.

Novels can educate

Unless we are involved in such a situation ourselves, we won’t
take the time to educate ourselves on addiction. However, we will pick up a
novel with this kind of story line. While walking through the experience with
the characters, we learn that subtle dispensing of information could save a
life. This story not only entertains, but can be used to minister healing to
readers going through the same valley. That should be is one of our goals as
fiction writers. What a challenge as aspiring writers to hone our craft to a
level where we are free to write from our raw emotions. Choosing story lines we
can relate to personally.

What books have you read recently that have captured your attention in the same way? What emotions did they evoke and what information did you glean?