by Martha Rogers
Today, my husband and I are celebrating fifty-four years of marriage after knowing each other for about six months. We had a total of six dates in the four weeks I knew him before he left for boot camp. We were engaged a few days after my birthday while he was here on leave for five days. Then we did not see each other again until a week before the wedding.
So many times in research, I have found stories that are hard to believe. When put into a novel plot, the reader might back off and say, “No way.” Things that happen to us in real life may make for great drama in our own lives, but would that same incident be believable in a novel? One such incident was found in my research for a Civil War novel. The war stopped for one full day in Bayou Sara, Louisiana so a Yankee sea captain could be buried with full Masonic rites. I found the grave and monument in the cemetery in St. Francisville, Louisiana and was fascinated by the story, but found it hard to believe. I researched it, got all the details then included it in my novel. Still a reader from the North wrote to me and said she questioned the incident until she also looked it up.
We know that miracles happen in our lives, but how do they translate into fiction? A baby thought to have multiple birth defects as detected my sonograms is found to be perfectly healthy at birth. A child with an incurable disease needs a blood transfusion, and the platelets are found less than an hour before they were to be destroyed. A baby is born seven weeks early with an obstruction in his windpipe. A group of women meet to pray and three hours later the obstruction is gone and the baby breathes on his own and begins to thrive. How would these translate to a plot in a story or novel? We serve a mighty God, and all of these are possible with His healing powers, but how would readers react to such miracles in fiction?
We all want happy endings, but could these endings mentioned be believable? I would hope so, but when included in several different manuscripts for contests, the judges all claimed these “miracles” too good to be true and chastised me for “contriving a happy ending.” Yes, they are too good to be true, but they are true because they happened in my family with our middle son and two grandsons.
Is your truth stranger than fiction? Have things happened in your life that when written into a story or novel seem unbelievable?
Martha Rogers is a free-lance writer and was named Writer of the Year at the Texas Christian Writers Conference in 2009 and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston where they enjoy spending time with their grandchildren and attending football, baseball, and basketball games when one of the grandchildren is playing or performing. She is a member of several writing groups. A former Home Economics teacher, Martha loves to cook and experimenting with recipes and loves scrapbooking when she has time. She has written two series as well as several other novels and novellas. The first book in her new series, Love Stays True, released in May, 2013.