Friday, August 30, 2013

Writing in Joy--and A Giveaway!!!


When I opened my email and found Natalie Bangheri's delightful artwork depicting Ela and Scythe from PROPHET, I was struck by the joy she'd added--Scythe's just-fed tranquility and that secretive quirk of humor in Ela's quiet little smile and bright eyes. 

Humor--to say nothing of outright joy--was the furthest emotion from my mind when I wrote the initial scenes of PROPHET. After all, my brave young heroine, Ela, had just accepted a death sentence. How could she possibly enjoy life while facing assassins, battles, tyrant kings, and hideous venomous monsters at every turn?

However, mortals in every realm intuitively stave off stress by seeking joy in some form. A hug from a cherished sibling before facing an army, spiritual encouragement from prayers, coltish devotion from an overgrown monster-horse, and even jesting with fellow prisoners when you've been unfairly sentenced and tossed behind bars. With every chapter, the more I wrote of Ela's perils and fears, the more joy surfaced in the manuscript and in my characters' thoughts and emotions. 

Mid-manuscript, I paused, stared at my computer screen, and thought, "Even Shakespeare's tragedies featured clowns. Why shouldn't I add some joy and let readers have fun along the way?" 

What do you think? Do dark scenes demand a touch of joy now and then--the merest hint of hope to encourage our heroes, heroines, and readers on their journey?


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15 comments:

Sarah said...

I think they do. If a book is too dark and depressing, I won't enjoy it as much.

Hannah said...

Such scenes should certainly be there. Light must contrast darkness. Hope must be seen in despair. Otherwise, it's not a true representation of how our life should be with Jesus. Even in dungeons, Paul learned to have a positive lookout on things.

And not only do I believe that humor and light makes a story that much better, but it also makes the darkness that much darker.

Humor scenes should be placed wisely, I think. I've read a few books where tension is high, I'm on the edge of my seat, and then someone spoils it with a corny joke. They definitely belong in their place.

RJLarsonbooks said...

Sarah, I'm with you. As a reader, if I'm drawn into a book, then its mood stays with me even after I finish those last words.

I'd rather finish happily--or at least have a few uplifting moments to brighten my spirit as I bid farewell to the story!

RJLarsonbooks said...

Hannah,

Beautifully described--in particular, that "Hope must be seen in despair."

My outlook exactly, as I wait upon the Lord!

tknick said...

My daughter is always saying "Everything exists in contrst." In other words, you can't have good if you don't have bad. So you can't have despair if you have no hope to contrast it with. We are in the midst of a series on Philippians at our church, and they've titled it "Rebellious Joy." Joy in the midst of sorrow, death, loneliness etc. Yes, the joy needs to be there!

RJLarsonbooks said...

TK, that sounds like a terrific series on Philippians! I plan to study this topic in-depth! :D

daysease said...

I think life in the Lord is like that... full of challenge, tears, hard times, sorrow, and yet in the midst of it all, He promises "peace that passes all understanding", joy, and His everlasting hope... That phrase "How could she possibly enjoy life while facing assassins, battles, tyrant kings, and hideous venomous monsters at every turn?
However, mortals in every realm intuitively stave off stress by seeking joy in some form." THAT'S REAL!!! I do that every day!! That jumped out the page at me, and I recognized it like a friend's reminder... Yes, tragedy needs a reprieve, whether in the simplicity of a smile, the beauty of a rose, or the sound of birds singing to remind a heart that all things "come, to pass"... Thank you for sharing.


Celita :-)

J:-)mi said...

The Bible gives us moments of joy and says to rejoice always. And when writing fiction I sure hope you provide lots of moments of joy! Fiction lifts me up, not brings me down. That's because I'm careful what I read. It's easy for me to feel depressed and miserable. So if I read a sad story, I'll be depressed and miserable about something that's not even real! If I want that, I'll turn to real life, not fiction! Fiction is where I find hope, where I remember that God is in control, that He has plans, etc. Let your stories continue to remind me of that, continue to give hope and joy!

Robin Dykema said...

Bright spots definitely belong in a book! In your Books of the Infinite, you have an amazing balance! Isn't it neat watching God work? <3 Even when you are expecting the feel of your writing to go one way and in sneaks moments of joy...or maybe especially then!

Fiction is powerful; I, too, find that a mood can follow me for some time--whether I have to put a book down mid-story, or when it has finished. This is especially true when the story draws me in.
When I read your books, I find myself drawn toward the Infinite, and knowing Him more. He is certainly using you and your gifts! May He continue to bless you.

Pamela Nastase said...

Like life, it's never all gloomy. Even on the day I was told I had 2 months to live, I found several things funny. And since I knew my final destination was with my Papa God, it really wasn't bad news. When two months passed, I was told by the Mayo Clinic I had about two years left--and would die a very slow, very painful death. Yet, my trust was in my Maker, so I still had His peace and joy--I knew His grace would be sufficient no matter what happened.

It's been 20 years and one month since that original diagnosis. Even now the doctors say, "I don't understand how your body is functioning. What do you attribute that to?" I answer, "GOD is the only one who holds my future. And He's the only one who decides when my days are ended."

The illness isn't visible, so the only way to tell in the doctor's waiting room whether or not someone is ill is by the look of despair and hopelessness in their eyes. I've never looked ill because I have hope.

I've had 20+ years of constant pain, and yet, I can assure you that pain CANNOT keep me from a life of peace, joy, and thankfulness. It simply does not have that power.

No matter how bleak the day, I've always found something to be grateful for and a reason to laugh because MY GOD IS GOOD!

RJLarsonbooks said...

Thanks, Celita! You're so right--and it's our joy in the simple things (all those blessings from our Creator that you've listed) that keeps life balanced! :D

RJLarsonbooks said...

J:-)mi, yes, I love fiction that allows me to escape for a time, yet challenges me to think about what's important in life--not to mention an ending that makes me smile and leaves me happy!

RJLarsonbooks said...

Robin, isn't He wonderful??? !!!! :D
(And so are readers and friends like you! <3)

RJLarsonbooks said...

Pamela, the Lord is GOOD indeed!!!
Hugs and blessings~~your story is so amazing.... :D

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