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Incorporating Healthy Relationships Into Your Novel

Hello all! Your friendly neighborhood contest manager here to let you know that our contest on the topic of relationships is still open for submissions, and will be until September 30th!

Our goal with this contest was to showcase healthy relationships between God's precious image-bearers, taking specifically from the book of Galatians.

We had a couple questions on our introductory post that I just wanted to reference again... The format for this specific quarter is short stories, so that's going to exclude every other form of story (but don't worry! We'll have many other types of contests in the future!)

We are capping off the stories at about 3,000 words, if you go a few over we're not going to throw out your story, don't worry, but we would really like for you to stick as close to that 3,000 word limit as possible!

When you're ready to submit, go ahead and click on this link, which has a concise list of our rule, and a short form for you to fill out and attatch your story!

As always, if you have any comments or questions, let me know. I look forward to reading your submissions!

But before I close, I would like to present you with a short article on what healthy relationships look like, and why they're important to display in our stories, for those interested in hearing more about the subject.

an introduction

One of the amazing talents authors possess is the ability to communicate a fundamental truth through story. A truth that might be overlooked, or mis-handled, misshapen in the minds of others. You have the opportunity to present that truth to the world, in a unique and yet age old way.

I want to encourage you for these next couple weeks, to get your truth from a foundational place: Scripture.

What’s so unique about Scripture? Well, it claims to be the written revelation of the One True God. It claims power like that of a double-edged sword, piercing through man’s heart and discerning his innermost thoughts. Piercing through joints and marrow, is the exact wording (Heb. 4:12 LSB). It’s a very clear picture.

Not only does it claim, but it demonstrates. The Word of God is living and active, it discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart. It is divinely inspired and preserved in the book we know as the Bible.

This, my friends, is where we are to understand truth. It is our source and rule, and the place we can come back to in times of confusion or mis-understanding. Not only that, but the lengths that have been gone to to protect this book are awe-inspiring. The history of our Bible is rich and motivating, and should lead us to be thankful we can own multiple copies of it today.

My hope is for you all to go back to the foundation of truth, the pages upon pages of wisdom and understanding, and let that be your guide as you attempt to craft and weave your tale of truth. Let the ultimate authority guide you. <3

why care about healthy relationships anyway?

Nobody said relationships were easy, and if they did they weren’t telling you the truth. Shallow, surface level relationships can be easy, but living in a fallen world means there is bound to come a time of pain and heartache, disagreement, or even animosity, especially in a deep and close relationship.

The question is not if you’re going to have those hard times, but what the response will be when you have those hard times.

If you let your emotions dictate your response, then you will have an ever-shifting foundation of sand on which you attempt to catch the falling pieces.

If you let personal gain dictate your response, then you will always be one step away from exploiting the person you are supposed to love.

If you let bitterness dictate your response, you will always be looking for a way to hurt them.

The question becomes, as a writer, how is your character going to choose to respond? While emotions are a part of life, you simply cannot rely on them as your guidebook. While a healthy relationship is mutually beneficial, don’t look to your gain as the springboard for your response. While there are past wounds, perhaps unintentional, or possibly even intentional, we are to keep watch, and not remain angry.

Healthy relationships are the bedrock of life. And in an age of self-love and self-indulgence, it is ever important that we use our words to admonish and encourage. Where the lie says look to your interests, truth says look to the interests of others.

Where the lie says hate the ones who hate you, truth says to not only forgive them, but to show them love as if they loved you.

The lie says freedom means free from sacrifice, truth says freedom means service, and the bondage to righteousness.

Healthy relationships are not only good for the person emotionally and spiritually, but they are an opportunity to share the gospel with others.

Where someone is truly willing to sacrifice for another, and willing to work at and for a relationship, willing to love the other unconditionally, it is a picture of our changed heart and nature, and points back to a loving sacrifice made for us in Christ.

how do I apply healthy relationships to my novel?

How do you actually go about and apply these truths? I would hesitate to say there is any specific and 100% correct way. But please don’t panic.

Each and every one of you is different in some way, I would not endeavor to tell each one of you that you should do the exact same thing.

Personally, I find that whatever I’m passionate about spills out into my writing in the most unintentional of ways. The relationships I do have are important to me, and I believe what you treasure shows up as truth in what you write.

For some of you, it’s simply reading about or of healthy relationships.

For others it’s dissecting the entire idea: what do they look like? How do you get there? What is the opposite of a healthy relationship and how do you get there? Which decisions end up where? How do motives & emotions factor in? Etc, etc…

There are yet some who have to write down every aspect of the relationship and how it came to be, and why it is where it is now before they begin to write it. (Plotters, I’m looking at you *coughs*)

Are people always going to have perfect healthy relationships? No, of course not, we’re human. Even Christians will fail and have failed relationships, this is a mark of sin upon our world, but it doesn’t mean we give up all hope.

That also doesn’t mean that every relationship we write about has to be perfect either, that would be a false representation of reality.

But what it does mean is that we should strive to present healthy relationships as the standard, not as the default. They take work, they take time, but it’s well worth both.

I believe this is an area of fiction that we should be focused on, contrasting healthy relationships with poor relationships, protecting the truth that we are to treat each other with love and kindness, despite the sins committed against us.

How you write that into your own unique story is going to look different for everyone, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Start with recognizing the good from the bad, and identifying how hard times can weaken and strengthen your relationship.

How good times can strengthen and weaken.

How the two personalities interact in the relationship.

How they deal with conflict, how they deal with sorrow, how they deal with joy and celebration.

I encourage you, and challenge you even, to put godly relationships, based on God's truth, on display in your writing for your readers to see, to be encouraged and convicted by.

To show them that it is possible to glorify God through their relationships with various people in their lives, the easy and the difficult ones.

I leave you with that challenge, my friends! Continue writing for Him, and His glory!

Louise Taylor

Contest Manager

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1 bình luận

21 thg 10, 2023

Great Post!

It's so true, relationships are built over time with trial and error, especially Godly ones.

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