Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Thoughts on Using a Divorced Heroine in the WIP


Photo: Visiting with some students . . . and I'm presently visiting schools in the Atlanta area.

My heroine for Fairlawn, my WIP, is divorced. And I know going in that I'll encounter some resistance from some readers because I've chosen to put her in that condition.

But I'm going to go ahead with my plan for several reasons: 1) Divorce is common in our society, even in Christian families. My hubby and I serve in a church filled with divorced families--in fact, I wouldn't be surprised to find that no-divorce families are in the minority.

2) Jesus did say that divorce was allowed in the case of adultery, and while I've never been one that would urge couples to divorce quickly, I do think it's permissible if one party refuses to reconcile and adultery has occurred. Furthermore, once one of the parties remarries, adultery has definitely occurred, so the remaining spouse is free.

3). Christian fiction seems to have an overabundance of widows . . . and in the real world, most single mothers are single because of divorce.

I don't like divorce, I don't encourage it, but I think my writing has to reflect the world around me. So--my heroine is going to be in the "moving on" stage after a divorce. Her former spouse has remarried, leaving her free to get on with her life and try to make a home for herself and her sons.

I'm a member of a theological loop that has discussed divorce extensively, and we've come to the conclusion that divorce should never be quick or undertaken without an attempt at reconciliation. Divorce almost always occurs because of a hard heart, and no one can deny that hard hearts are part of the human condition. So my as yet unnamed-heroine will find herself in that condition, and part of the struggle will be seeing how she rises above her sadness and makes a new life for herself.

~~Angie

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Angie, I'm totally with you on this one. I think having a divorced heroine is a timely and realistic approach. I work in a training ministry and I can tell you that divorced Christians are more common than ever. That's not necessarily a good thing--just reality.
My parents divorced when I was a teen and my mom came to know the Lord shortly after that. I still remember the awful way she was treated in the church. Being looked down on finally caused her to give up on going at all.
That was a long time ago. I'm so glad things have changed and that most evangelical churches now have ministries specifically geared to divorced people.
So--go for it! By the way, Mom's name was Lisa if you're still searching for a name for your character. She went home to be with the Lord a few years ago, but God had given her real victory in dealing with the pain of her life. She's still my heroine!

Suzanne said...

I too think that never-divorced married Christian couples are the minority in our churches. My husband is a pastor and we are at a church with a very high rate of divorced & remarried people. It seems to me that people give up too quickly and don't allow the Lord to work in their lives. If we continue down this path then what makes us different from the rest of the world? I have a friend who is in the process of leaving his wife, he is "afraid that in 10 years he will still have a miserable marriage" and doesn't think that even God can change things. His wife, on the other hand, is resting in the promise that God gave her that her marriage will be restored. It is so sad. Sad that we can rationalize things away.

How about the name Sedona? Ever been to Sedona, AZ? A beautiful rocky place!

Ruth said...

Hi Angie -- I applaude you on your stance! I think it is wonderful that you are seeking to reflect the reality of divorce in our society -- esp. in churches -- while not condoning it as an easy option or quick fix. Believers don't need to turn a blind eye to the fact that divorce among Christians is a reality -- and your new series sounds like it has the potential to reach people and show them how to respond, how to deal with being in the middle of a wrenching situation (or help those outside the situation understand how to respond in Christian love).

Tracey Bateman said...

Glad to hear it Angie. I felt the same way when I was sketching Leave it to Claire.

Carrie said...

My husband was divorced when I met him. His first wife, a non-Christian whom he married when he wasn't serving the Lord, had "fallen in love" with someone else. Kevin asked her to stop seeing this man and work on their marriage, but she refused and they were divorced.

Two years later, Kevin had started following Jesus again and he and I met in our church singles group. When we began dating, I was astounded by how many of my Christian friends felt it was their duty to tell me I shouldn't get involved with him because he was divorced. They told me that if I wanted to have any future ministry in music or writing that I was ruining my chances by marrying a divorced man. It was so hurtful to us.

Yes, divorce is terrible. It is a sin in most instances. But sins are forgivable by Jesus - they are covered by what He did on the cross. Why do so many churches feel that divorce is the "unforgivable" sin, the one we need to make sure no one forgets?

I think your book will be wonderful and reflect reality. Divorce happens - even to Christians.

Question about writing: do you know in your mind what your characters look like before you name them? Or does the name come first? Or personality?

Also, I am extremely tired today because I made the mistake of starting Magdalene at 10:00 p.m. last night. I read until I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. Just thought I'd let you know. ;)

Leslie said...

Go for it! I teach children's Sunday school, and I just saw the nightmare that one of my parent's went through-and the nightmare her son went through. Divorce is very common and it does happen and it does happen Biblically (for reasons of infidelity). Most of the older women I know (I am in my 20's) have been divorced once and have since turned to the Lord and found godly husbands.

Ane Mulligan said...

Thank you, Angie. I believe our fiction should represent real life, not a rose garden. If we're going to minister to a hurting and dying world with our fiction, we need to address real life issues. If the multi-published authors, like you, will take the forefront, we unpublished authors will have a better chance.

Kelli Standish said...

Angie,
An author friend once told me, "The horizon of Christian fiction is littered with the corpses of dead husbands."

I thought that was hysterical at the time, but I understand now what she meant.

And when it comes to Christian fiction books with divorced lead characters, in order to be safe, the author often kills off the former spouse right before her lead gets remarried.

So I think stories with real-life corpse-free situations are in order.

And because many churches today are still handing out scarlet letters to those who divorce or are divorced, I think a sensitive treatment of this subject in fiction is long overdue!

If you'd like some tremendous insights into the reality of divorcees, get ahold of the divorcecare video series put out by the people here: http://www.divorcecare.org/

I just went through this series with a church divorce and separation support group, and it was amazing.

Cheering you on,
Kelli

Blythe Lane said...

I just want to say that as a reader, I really appreciate writers who are willing to delve into the realities of the human condition from a Christian perspective. I've always enjoyed that from your writing. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to reading!