Growing up, I didn’t picture myself becoming an author. Yes, I wrote stories and had an active imagination, but I didn’t ever think I’d actually write a novel. Certainly not three and counting. But the day that I had the first idea to write a Christian novel for teenage readers, I knew it would be about an avalanche. Here’s why.
First, avalanches are exciting and dangerous. Seriously, look at that picture. Can you hear the roar, feel the power?
But it’s more than the idea that sending my characters through a natural disaster would provide interesting survival facts and a need for teamwork. Way more.
To strengthen my characters through adversity, physical pain, fear, and natural consequences of an unwise decision, they needed to be plunged into a big problem. They needed to see the power in nature and feel their own frailty. They needed to hit their knees and depend fully on God.
I remember the first time I hiked through the aftermath of an avalanche. I’m trying to find a picture of it for you, but alas, my words will have to suffice. It was summer, but enough snow remained at that altitude to see the clear path plowed by the avalanche. Trees were broken off at their bases and sprinkled down the mountain like a giant had tossed a handful of toothpicks. Boulders looked like they’d been moved around by a haphazard bulldozer. And the otherwise maintained backpacking trail was tricky to navigate through the snow and debris of the avalanche’s path.
Letting my main character, Marlee, feel the heart-pounding fear, get buried by packed snow, and have to dig her way out provided opportunities to rely on God, to fight with all her might, and to grow spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.
Then to hike to safety, Marlee and her sisters and their friends had to work together in a way that few plots could allow. I wanted my characters to be free from technology. The wilderness is a perfect location to get them away from Siri and have a chance to think and problem solve. When they experienced an array of physical injuries, they came face-to-face with their human weakness. When they were shaken up emotionally, they had no choice but to put their heads together and grow individually and as a group.
Sending Marlee through an avalanche gave her character the chance to stumble, struggle, learn, and grow. Stay tuned next week to find out why I sent her through a flash flood in Chased.
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2 thoughts on “Why I Sent My Main Character Through an Avalanche”
When you like your characters, it’s so hard to send them into awful circumstances but you have to to make an interesting story.
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Yes! It is hard to make them go through struggles!