Writing From the Pit

In God’s providence, today I read in Genesis chapter 37. This is the chapter where Joseph’s life takes an unexpected turn. It’s the part of the story where his brothers strip him of his many colored coat and toss him into a pit with plans to kill him.

I had looked forward to reading of Joseph’s life again. It’s a familiar story and easier to read when you know the outcome. But today as I read about how his brothers betrayed him and trapped him in a pit like an animal, these words stood out. “Now the pit was empty without any water in it.”

I can only imagine how Joseph felt. An empty pit was actually a good thing. No wild animal to devour him and no water to drown him or thick muck to suck him into hopeless bondage. But being thrown into a pit as you hear your future discussed like an auctioned animal would be terrifying.

Why do you think Joseph’s story is so popular even among people that don’t believe or read the Bible? It’s because Joseph’s story holds all the elements that make for a best seller. It’s full of interesting characters to love and hate, presents a riveting plot and subplots that offer twists and turns, and plenty of conflict, tension and finally resolution.

When it comes to Biblical Spec Fic, characters like Joseph offer plenty of fodder. Think of what story could be written from one of the brother’s POV. Extra details are provided as to how Ruben and Judah fought as they determined the fate of their brother. Or how about one of the slave traders—maybe the one who purchases him and sells him in Egypt. How does meeting Joseph touch his life? That’s the facet of Biblical Spec Fic that’s as endless as the writer’s imagination.

It reminded me of the story "Seeing Blind" by Daniel Weaver which is included in the Biblical Spec Fic anthology Light at the Edge of Darkness. He reached from the future to the past and connected with a familiar Bible character. His story is pure genius and one of my favorites in that collection. It’s life changing because it not only entertains, but it puts you in the path of Jesus and takes you back there again and again as the story comes to mind.

When it comes to conflict and tension, Spec Fic provides a perfect vehicle. The very nature of spiritual warfare, seen and unseen, makes for interesting plots as good vs. evil in the truest sense. In stories like Adam Graham’s "The Agent", S. M. Kirkland’s "Fair Balance" and C. E. Lavender’s "Protected," the author’s imagination connects to scriptural truth with unexpected twists and turns in settings far different from those in which I live, and yet hit home because the truth is the truth. It applies no matter the setting—no matter the character.

So for the Biblical Spec Fic writers out there, the next time you find yourself fighting writer’s block, put yourself into the pit. What do you hear? What do you smell? And what do you feel? Once you’ve completed that task, if you haven’t started writing, take a step up to the edge of the pit and look into it. Who are you and how did you get there and what difference does it make?

Donna Sundblad


Andrea Graham said...

Good work, Donna. Speculative fiction is the best genre to handle bible stories in, I'd say. The bible story gives you a time-tested, truth-tested plot. The speculative setting gives the reader a new set of eyes. And you're right, choosing a different view point adds another element of freshness.

Donna Sundblad said...

Hi Andrea,

I agree. Not only freshness, but an avenue that allows a new line of reasoning that connects from character to reader as the truth touches their lives from a new perspetive.


Andrea Graham said...

Exactly, Donna :)