In a recent discussion on ACFW’s Women’s Fiction loop, author Sharon A. Lavy said, “I really care about the relationships between people of all kinds. Parents and children, siblings, friends. I really have a passion that women need other women. So every story I write includes the close friendship of women. No matter what else is going on in the story.”
Whatever an author is passionate about shows up in their work and often fills the characters with life and the strength of their convictions. Sometimes the passion is just there, quiet and subtle, like Sharon including close friendships in all of her works; sometimes it whacks you across the face with a wet towel, as in stories written by authors on a soap box (not recommended, by the way). But the author’s passion can make the difference between ho-hum characters and memorable people who live in the pages of our books.
Specificity is important when writing about our passions. Although Sharon “really cares about relationships” in general, she’s passionate about the idea that “women need other women.” What’s implied in her statement is that along with her husband, her children, her family, a woman needs female friends. As a reader and a woman, I can relate to that. I need my friends. I need the opportunity to be just a woman–not a wife, daughter, mother, or any other tag that goes along with being female, but just a woman associating with other women who understand me.
My first novel, Give the Lady a Ride, is a romance, and I can say that I’m passionate about love–who isn’t? But even with this, it helps to be specific. Love between a man and a woman is the point of romance, so specifics could include first love, renewed love, growing love, 50th-anniversary love. Women’s fiction often deals with other kinds of love–between sisters, mother and daughter, friends, any other relationship. If you’re passionate about love, tell me: What relationship is important to you? What aspect appeals to you? What is it about love that pumps your blood? Be specific.
Patricia Talbert, my main character in Give the Lady a Ride, reflects my one-time conviction that I’d never get married again. Tried it. Hated it. Never wanted to do it again. I held on to that for the entire ten years between my first husband and my second. God gave me a second chance at love, and now I’m passionate about the idea of second chances–which is also reflected in Ride.
My current novel, an unpublished women’s fiction story, The Cat Lady’s Secret, reflects my passion too, but from a different angle. Instead of God granting a second chance, it’s granted by one person to another. Inherent in this are the concept of forgiveness and the idea that fights aren’t fatal to a relationship, that misunderstandings can be overcome. Because of my life experiences, it took me a long time to learn this. Now I consider it the most valuable lesson God ever taught me, and I want others to understand it too.
I could go on through my current WIPs and show how my passion–second chances at love–is illustrated time after time, but suffice it to say, it’s there, “no matter what else is going on in the story.”
What’s at your core? What are you passionate about? What ideals do you cling to? How are they reflected in your work?
Sharon A. Lavy is author of Dreaming of a Father’s Love, available on Amazon.com.