Darkness and Light

The only good thing that happened during the recent U.S. government shutdown was the jokes. I’m tempted to quote a few, but this isn’t a political post. This is about the dark and the light in books that mirrors real life. My most recent release, Christmas at Angel Lake, starts off with Maddie, the heroine, in trouble. She’s broke, pregnant, deserted by the baby’s father, driving in a snow storm…and then something wonderful happens to her. The caretaker of a house that’s been empty for years thinks Abby will be staying there.

This is a lifesaver for Maddie, and she vows to pay it forward. It’s because she lives up to her vow that she meets the hero.

We authors torture our characters, so I love it when something wonderful happens to them (although at first Maddie doesn’t view meeting the hero as wonderful). This morning I was writing my next book, and things weren’t going well for my librarian heroine. At least that’s what I thought. But instead of something bad happening, something good did. I hadn’t planned on writing that, but when I did, it felt right. This not only changed my heroine’s life, but it made me feel good.

I’m a method writer. When I write about a woman in trouble, I feel her worry, her fear, her desperation. Writing in the character’s point of view, I was feeling a bit depressed, and this change energized me. New plot possibilities opened up, and I’m happy. Along with the darkness, I need the light.

In books, it’s the author’s job to get the characters in trouble…and then make it worse. But sometimes the reader and the author need a reward. I sure need it in my real life, too. I’ve had a lot of good things happen in my life lately—and a few not so good. Though I’d love to have good all the time, maybe we need the bad to appreciate the good. To not think that we’re special and entitled.

The truth is, we’re all special in our own way. But maybe we wouldn’t grow or change if we didn’t have any darkness. A phrase that used to be popular when someone was going through a bad time was that he or she was “building character.” As a professional character builder, I love that phrase. Sometimes we need that kick in the ass. I started writing when my husband lost his job. Thank God he soon found another job, but I needed that kick to get out of my comfort zone and do what I really wanted to do. And how many of us have mourned the loss of a boyfriend or a job—and now we’re thankful for that loss? It led to something better.

Like my book, this blog is turning in a different direction than I planned, so I’m stopping here. Can you think of a bad thing that turned out good for you?

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14 Responses to Darkness and Light

  1. Edie, LOVE the term professional character builder. Yes! Next time someone asks me what I do for a living, that’s what I’ll tell them. 🙂

  2. Edie Ramer says:

    Michelle, I think I’ll put that in my author description, along with “plotter, schemer and mischief maker.” 😈

  3. Amy says:

    I strongly believe that we must have darkness, sadness, pain etc to truly appreciate the good things in life. In stories, we want to read about characters having the same type of emotional experience as we do. It makes us feel better about ourselves and our lives and gives us hope. Bad situations that turned out good? There have been a lot of them. I know that God has a plan for my life and even though I don’t always understand it, I trust it. I know that he will carry me through the darkness and I will find light again. I loved Christmas at Angel Lake. It had a good balance of darkness and light. And your books always have so much hope at the end!
    Amy`s last blog was …Review: BANQUET OF LIES by Michelle Diener

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Amy, whatever plans God has for your life, I’m grateful that we made a connection. You are very special and wise.

      And thanks for the nice things you say about my books! And Michelle’s! I love your review today for Banquet of Lies.

  4. Edie,

    Lately, too many bad things happening and I’ve not seen the good in that yet. If ever…

    But years ago life changing bad things brought me to new pathways and roads not anticipated. So I see the truth in your statement “professional character builder” and I often will use that for my characters in a book. Like now with the one I’m writing which is so many ways has turned into a much more difficult one than I anticipated.
    Casey Clifford`s last blog was …An Author Event

  5. marilynbrant says:

    Thank you. Your post really resonated for me. My son has been sick (stomach issues and fever) off and on for the past 4 weeks, and today he went to school healthier than he’d been for a month and laughing again about funny things that had happened during the day…and I was so grateful. I am not at all glad that he was sick, but I was glad that seeing him pull out of this illness reminded me so powerfully of his lighthearted spirit. His smile was truly like a ray of sunshine and I appreciated it all the more after its absence for so long.
    marilynbrant`s last blog was …No Matter the Hour…I’m a “Sleepy Head”

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Marilyn, I’m so glad he’s better now. It’s so true that once an illness is over, it does leave you with a deep gratitude for something you took for granted before then. Still, that’s not the way we want to learn gratitude, darn it!

  6. There’s nothing I love more than, in particular, a dark hero who has been tortured by his past then gets that happily ever after!

    You’re right though, I don’t think we would appreciate the good as much without the bad.

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Lori, you excel with the dark, tortured heroes! And definitely having something bad happen does make us appreciate the good. Though I wish there was an easier way to learn to appreciate it.

  7. Dale Mayer says:

    Hi Edie,

    I love that professional character builder line. lol. Very fitting. I’m kinda stuff in a dark space at the moment. Working on finding the light. lol. But I have faith that it will turn out all right even if it takes a year or so to see it!
    Dale Mayer`s last blog was …Vamping with the vamps…and me!

  8. Liz Kreger says:

    Hey Edie. Chiming in here late — as usual. I agree that having bad things happen to you really reveals what type of person you are. People have told me that they couldn’t possibly handle what I’ve been going through these past 17 years. I disagree. I think they’d be surprised at what they could handle when given no choice. Would I wish this on anyone? Never. But most people will rise to the occasion when called to.

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Liz, I thought of you as I wrote this. Especially the last two paragraphs. You handle adversity better than anyone I know. I don’t think there are any more lessons for you to learn, and it’s time for all the bad stuff to back up. Very quickly, I hope!

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