Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Healing Character Wounds

by Debby Giusti

As writers, we know the importance of creating flawed characters that change and grow over the course of our stories. Looking back at my first writing attempts, I often chuckle. My heroes and heroines had it all—good looks, great intellects, poise and charm. Free of baggage, they were extraordinary humans whose lives were blessed in everyway. Of course, I had a lot to learn and soon realized that compelling stories involved characters that were true to life.

Last weekend, I attended a Christian healing seminar to learn ways to help those suffering from inner wounds, but shortly into the first talk, I knew that much of the information provided could be used in my books as well. The therapist who presented the program started off by saying all of us are wounded. Our unhealed wounds can trigger a response that negatively impacts the way we relate to others. The pain we experience often comes from the memory of an event that happened in the past. We hold onto a false belief about the memory that adversely affects the way we think about ourselves. If we can identify the false belief by bringing Christ into the midst of that painful memory, we can see ourselves through His eyes, discard the false lie we have been living and recognize the truth about who we truly are—a beautiful creation totally loved by God.

Michael Hauge, author of Writing Screenplays that Sell, presented a workshop at the Romance Writers of America Conference I attended, in 2007, that touched on the same subject. Hauge talked about including character wounds and flawed self-perceptions in our stories. He explained how a hero may be inhibited by a wound or source of continuing pain that happened in the past, which he has suppressed but hasn’t healed. The hero draws inaccurate conclusions about the wound to protect himself, while living with the fear that he could be wounded again. As a self-protective mechanism, the hero puts on a false front, or mask, which is the identity he presents to the world. Within the story, the flawed belief and protective identity must be stripped away to find the essence of the authentic person he truly is.

Whether in our books or in real life, the love of Christ heals. When we incorporate transforming moments into the lives of our characters, our stories can impact others in a positive way. Hopefully, readers will examine their own painful memories and recognize the wounds and false beliefs that weigh them down. Embracing the universal truth that Christ wants us whole and healed whether in fiction or real life, readers, writers and characters alike see themselves in the light of Christ’s abundant love and mercy and are transformed.

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

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