Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Writing Tip Wedesday: Courtesy of author Cathy Bryant

Recovering perfectionist Cathy Bryant is the author of the Miller’s Creek Novels—Texas Roads, A Path Less Traveled, and The Way of Grace. Her desire is to write heart-stirring stories about God’s life-changing grace. Though Texas-born, she currently resides in the beautiful Ozark mountains of northwest Arkansas with her husband of thirty years and near the world’s cutest grandson. You can learn more about her and her books at and

*make sure you check out the giveaway deets at the end of the post!*

By Cathy Bryant, ©2012

Know any perfectionists? Hmmm, maybe I should phrase it this way: Know any perfectionists who ever attain their goal by their own efforts? (Don’t you just love rhetorical questions?)

The truth is that in spite of our attempts to be good or reach perfection, it’s humanly impossible. Even the nicest people have “issues.” Not one of us homo sapiens are (or ever will be, in this earthly life) perfect. As famous playwright, Eugene O’Neill, once said: “Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.”

If none of us are perfect, then why are we so timid about—or even afraid of—creating less-than-perfect characters? Could it be that we’re fearful our personal sin will come under the microscope? The reason we Christian writers write is to show how our gracious God can redeem even the most broken among us. When we shy away from creating “flawed” characters, we lessen the story and sell God short—almost shouting out our lack of faith in His ability.

And if you still can’t bring yourself to create a less-than-perfect character, think about it this way: real characters with real problems keep readers turning pages. Without the conflict and tension of imperfect people trying to make it through the struggles of life, our stories are about as exciting to read as the phone book.

King David was called “a man after God’s own heart,” yet committed adultery and murder. If you look at the life of Jesus, you see Him reaching out to imperfect people and calling us to do the same. He hung out with sinners and tax collectors and touched “unclean” people. He came to give good news to the poor, bind up broken hearts, bring freedom to those in chains, and replace darkness with light (Isaiah 61:1).

We’re scribes of the Most High God and ambassadors for Christ. With our words we have the power and privilege of bearing good news, binding broken hearts, releasing prisoners to freedom, and bringing light and healing to a dark and broken world. How can we attain that lofty goal if we pretend our characters are perfect?

As a former art teacher and musician, I’ve learned that white is made whiter in contrast to black. Lush chords are all the more beautiful when juxtaposed with dissonance. The same is true of our stories. Our character’s sin and flaws only serve to reveal Light and bring it into sharper focus. Or as one of the greatest Christian writers of all time phrased it: "…where sin increased, grace increased all the more..." (Romans 5:20b)

The Way of Grace by Cathy Bryant
(Book 3 in the Miller’s Creek novels)

In pursuit of justice, in need of grace . . .

A justice-seeking perfectionist pursues her dream of a perfect life in her hometown of Miller’s Creek, Texas. Sidetracked by the desire to be a prosecuting attorney, Grace Soldano launches into uncharted waters, making herself over to please her boss and mentor. Then a disheveled free spirit turns her perfectly ordered world upside down, challenging the concept of personal goodness. A fall from perfection leaves Grace teetering between vengeance and grace, caught in a deadly crossfire that leaves her dreams in a heap of ashes. Can she learn to joyfully accept the life God has given her–far from perfect–but one completely immersed in His grace?

Thanks for sharing this tip with us, Cathy!

Leave a comment below and I will choose one name using to win a digital copy of Cathy's book! Giveaway will run through October 22, 2012. Digital copy, courtesy of the author.


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