Characterization through The Christmas Story – Imagination

by | Dec 6, 2009 | Fiction Book Reviews, Writing Tips | 0 comments

Characters emerge from the most unlikely of places. Some evolve from a dream, others from the combination of several different personalities, a few from a stranger who sparked our interest, or a unique family member. The spark that flames into a memorable hero or heroine doesn’t have a hard and fast rule for inspiration because the heart of developing character is imagination.

The ability to blend the non-fiction with the fiction, past and present, to create believable characters comes from imagination. It stems from looking outside the box into a place of wonder, stepping outside the ‘real’ and reaching for our imaginary friends so we can bring them to life on a page.

How do we bring imagination into our fiction when we dont’ write fantasty? By use of our imagery – teasing the senses. Escorting the readers into a new world along with our characters by bombarding them with scents, sights, sounds, tastes, and touches.

Within the story of Joseph and Mary, we’re introduced to an unlikely group of secondary characters. The shepherds. This small account in Luke’s gospel focuses a lot of attention on two ‘sensory’ words: see & told. Not only that, but during the account, the Bible describes several intense emotions/emotional actions: terrified, amazed, treasured, glorifying, praising.

Can’t you just close your eyes and imagine the scene. Shepherds, the poor folk – many times outcasts, bunched up on a hillside, perhaps by a small fire. The night filled with quiet sounds, such as sheeps noises, the hush of the wind through the trees, an occassional bird  twittering.

Then without warning, these heavenly beings appear to share the great news of Messiah’s arrival. “heaveny host” the Bible says. Which means a big bunch of angels, illuminating the night sky above the shepherds, their voices joined in unison to intensify their message:

“Glory to God in the highest,
      and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests”

So between Mary, Joseph, and those shepherds, God’s ‘birth announcements’ for His Son have all gone out to ordinary, maybe even poor, people. The King of the Universe first home visit were from a bunch of shepherds, but a bunch of shepherds who realized the greatness of the moment. They took on the symbolism for what Christ would do in years to come. Offer peace to those who would hear his words, see his glory, and have their hearts changed to respond to His call.

Feeling, seeing, tasting, hearing, and smelling along with our characters, helps us enter into worlds for which we only see in our imaginations…or not at all.

Bible Verse for the Day:

Luke 2:10-12

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

When you hear great news you want to share it. When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I called every person I knew…or that my family might have known, and announced the exciting news. I was thrilled.

When I won first place in a writing contest and when I signed with my agent, I wanted to share the news.

How much more should the Author of our Faith encourage our words to sing his praises.

Christ brings us peace. The angel said, “I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all people.” The best birth announcement of all time.

Writing quote for the Day:

  A speech is poetry: cadence, rhythm, imagery, sweep! A speech reminds us that words, like children, have the power to make dance the dullest beanbag of a heart”   – Peggy Noonan



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