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Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Freelance: FICTION

"Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia."
~ E.L. Doctorow

(my writing desk)

Friday Freelance: FICTION

Note: This is not about my publishing journey (an unfinished story presently in the hands of the Lord and my agent of excellence), but about the writing experience, through which I’ve discovered a surprising affinity with my Creator.

If I have an obsession, it is God’s Word. As my blog sidebar says, I am a "writer of all things biblical." For many years, that was strictly non-fiction.

A couple of years back I unsuspectingly ventured into biblical fiction. I’d become thoroughly captivated by the biblical characters I studied—their culture and land, their history and genealogy, and a million other details of Scripture uncovered by the compulsive student. I continually pondered their lives, made reasonable conjectures, and my imagination filled in missing details. The whole process got the better of me and I put the mess down in writing.

Historical fiction presents time's chronicles in a dramatic setting—an effort to make the account captivating. I don't like that one fiction writing manual mentions "telling lies for profit." I’ve remained truthful, not only in scrupulous attention to scriptural and historical accuracy, but also in portraying fiction with credibility, as I’ve seen it played out by God’s hand in the lives of real people.

My method? Unlike non-historical novels, the outline is already written, taken from the pages of the Bible. I study exhaustively and bathe the process in prayer. I shape my characters’ personalities based on their known actions and the meanings of their names. Then I drop them into the story to discover how they act it out. Literally.

I step from my chair to play out scenes. I speak dialogue to taste and hear it. I get into my characters’ minds and emotions to think and feel as they do—weeping with their agony or heart pounding with their anger. I know in advance what they will attain or suffer, yet I am still exhilarated or saddened to experience it with them.

Their destiny is foreordained. I create who they are and direct their lives as I will, yet allow freedom for my characters to do things that I've not planned. More than once, they've done things to surprise me.

For who knows what is good for man in life ...?
Who can tell a man what will happen after him ...?
~ Ecclesiastes 6:12 (NKJV)

Twice in Jeremiah, the Lord says of certain sins, "nor did it come into My mind." At least twice in the Gospels, Jesus marvels at faith or lack of faith. And Peter speaks in his second epistle of us "hastening the day of God."

This has all been very curious to me. Just how much does human free will shape events within God’s sovereignty? What does the Lord fully put in our hands? To what extent does our ability to unite our wills to the will of God, and see things through His perspective, enable us to move His hand in prayer?

The answers do not cease to fascinate me. I’m most anxious to hear your own thoughts on such questions.

(And if you think me quite mad as the novelist I never expected to be, you're absolutely correct.)

Contrasting points-of-view, questions and feedback are invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. I'd like to think my obsession with God rivals yours.
    How much does He leave in our hands? I was wondering this very thing this week. But his hand is so undeniably in everything it's very presence distorts the argument. I look forward to seeing what others have to say.

  2. And so Anne sneaks in a profound statement on the eternal mystery of election/predestination/free will based upon her experience as a fiction writer. I love this post. :)

    And I understand it. As a fiction writer myself, I echo what you said, Anne: I create my characters, I know their story from beginning to end. Yet they do surprise me. Sometimes I allow the surprise to bloom on the page, and it leads to good things. Other times I pull back on my characters. I deny them what they want to do, for their own ultimate good.

    (Yes, if you're not a fiction writer, that sounds a hundred kinds of mad.)

    Creating fiction draws me close to my Creator than any other endeavor short of prayer and praise. In writing, I find God, and myself. writing even remotely close to the puzzle of an all-knowing God who nonetheless allows us to "surprise" Him on the page? How much does he feel the tension of "allowing" us free reign...or not? Or does He?

    I don't know. I don't believe I CAN know. God makes clear what will save us, but leaves some things as mysteries. I'm okay with that. It gives me just one more thing to look forward to in the age to come: no more through the mirror darkly, but face to face. :)

    God bless you today, Anne. Happy writing!

  3. I believe that if we stay in the will of God, He will take care of everything else. I love you my friend.

  4. Wow. This one sparked lots of thoughts. First, it reminded me of the verses where a man almost negotiates w/ God not to extinguish the whole town. Save ten. Five. One. And God ends up listening. Reminded me of this. Don't remember the specifics, but my take away was that God hears. What we say in our prayers does matter to Him.

    I loved that you bathe yourself in the process. I can picture you (though I've never seen you) rising and act out the character dialogue. My characters would laugh at my attempt. I'm not a very adept actor. I do try to close my eyes and visualize their lives, but acting? Like I wrote, they'd be laughing...which leads me to your quote. ;)

    As a side, are you new to Twitter. What is your impression?

    ~ Wendy

  5. Those questions vex me all the time, and lately even my 12 year old has begun to ask them. I think part of the point of our time here on earth is this wrestling! It's how we handle it, and whether we allow it to draw us closer to God (rather than away) that matters.

    Thanks for a beautiful post!

  6. T. Anne, I'd never think of us rivaling each other. Your own passion feeds mine, for sure.

    Gwen, one of the marvelous things about God is the way He makes Himself known in EVERYthing to the heart who seeks Him. I'm blessed to have you as a partner in madness.

    Denise, there is no better place than the wonderful marriage of our will to His.

    Rachelle, I'm always delighted to hear you speak of your two DD's, and of the ways they're already wrestling. Me thinks you guide them well.

    Wendy, everything you said makes me want to get off the computer and go pray! Can't do too much of it.

    As for Twitter? I've been using it for 5 months. I won't pretend it isn't a time drain. But it's been a great way to connect with people, and has proven worthwhile. No regrets.

  7. nice little writing space.

  8. He only gives us what we can handle. He surely can't give us a million dollars when we are frivolous with money. It is such with our gifts. When our minds are capable of understanding more then He pours in a little more. This is when our prayers are answered and our will intertwines with His will.

  9. As far as why I like to write. My tongue has no delete button.
    As far as God's predestination...As a son a father and grandfather and to keep it at a level I can understand, I see my Heavenly Father as just that a HEAVENLY FATHER. He created me nurtured me gave me passions and strengths. Now, although He wants the VERY best for me and will help me to achieve it, it's up to me. I don't have to accept His best. I can choose to go my own way. But just because I have the right to choose doesn't make what I choose right.
    Just like I love my own, and want what's best for them I can't or won't force my will on them.
    Well, that's how I see it anyway.

    Merry Christmas Anne.

  10. Of course i would never mean rival's in that respect. Perhaps on par or I would be pleased to try and surpass. BTW, I was just thinking to check your blog and I have to say it's such a delight to come here. You are truly like water for my soul. Thank you. (More often than not I wait up for you to post. I've loitered here for more than five minutes before around your usual posting time)

  11. Anne, you have both the calibre and the passion for it! I say, all the way for God's glory!

  12. nAncY, thank you. We have a small house—small for seven people anyway. That one corner belongs to me alone (excepting a child in my lap). Even the internet isn't connected to the computer.

    Ellie, I love what you've said here. People always say God "doesn't give you more than you can handle" about trials. No one's ever pointed that out about gifts and their responsible use. How wise an observation!

    Doug, I'm glad you write. I wish you did a little more of it. And every word you just said here resonates with me.

    T. Anne, how I want to hug you! Are you going to put your pretty face on your avatar anytime soon so I can at least see you? BTW, you just motivated me to be more diligent to have posts up by midnight Eastern time. My husband will be glad for that.

    Bible Lover, after what Ellie said, I guess I shouldn't be afraid. I'll trust God to enable what He gifts.


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