Saturday, May 06, 2006

Dark and light

Dave Long has a great interview with James Scott Bell at Faith in Fiction about noir and suspense in Christian fiction. This is so timely for me it's scary. I love what Bell says here, about showing the darkness in our fiction:
It seems to me the issue is not the darkness, but how one responds to it. Is there any basis for hope? Or are we merely carbon based atoms awaiting our inevitable destruction? Can we make real difference?

When light breaks into darkness it is startling and satisfying. That's what I try to get into my fiction.
It seems to me that's what I'd like to do, and maybe I've been able to do a little bit. I like mysteries and suspense. I like the way noir can be a genre that shows humans in all their brokenness, and yet still offer a glimmer of hope.

I started a new Adam Caldwell story last night, one that I suspect will be very dark. I'm not sure where I'm going with this character, who isn't a Christian and doesn't seem likely to be anytime soon. If I tell this story and let him make a royal mess of his life, how do I resolve it? Do I even have to? I'm beginning to think I should be asking more questions and offering fewer easy answers. But to ask the questions means exposing the darkness and maybe it will take a while for the light to shine in.

Here's what I'm beginning to think I'd like to do with Adam: tell a series of stories, somewhat interconnected, that would be not so much a novel as a story cycle. I know, short-story collections are almost as hard to sell to a publisher as poetry. Why not just write a novel and be done with it? But what I keep thinking of are short stories about Adam, not novels. He's a character I can sink my teeth into, one I can let grow over time. And I need to let him be broken. There's a lot I don't know, but I do know this -- I can't coddle him. He's got some growing to do and he's one who has to learn things the hard way.

I learned a long time ago, that we (humans in general) don't learn something until we have to. We have to reach a point where we desperately need to learn something (this can apply to a new skill as well as to knowing we need God) before we learn it. For some reason, I feel like I can show this process better with someone like Adam. So I guess I'll keep writing this story and see what happens.

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