I’m honored to say that I have one of Christian romance’s top authors with Brooke St. James as my guest blogger today. What a boon! Her topic about the creative process of writing brings is great and, to me, is always something I find interesting. So, here you go… Brooke St. James, Christian Romance author.
BROOKE ST. JAMES ON WRITING FAITH-BASED FICTION
Every writer has his or her own creative process. Mine is different from yours, and
yours is likely different from most other writers. You can learn various techniques to help your
body of work flow nicely or be more comprehensive, but I view such techniques as boundaries that are just begging to be broken. I believe this realization is something that happens when you really begin to find your own voice.
Someone once told me that a real chef doesn’t follow recipes—that recipes are guidelines for people who don’t know how to cook. In order to become a true chef, you must understand each ingredient.
You must have a grasp on how the ingredients relate to one another so that you don’t under or over
season a dish. A true chef knows roughly how much onion, celery, salt and pepper, etc. should be
used to create a pot of soup. They don’t necessarily use precise measurements when creating a dish.
They simply add ingredients and continually sample the dish until it tastes right.
I write romance novels, and my approach to telling a story is similar to the chef I’m describing. I
try to give myself as few rules as possible.
Most of the time, I write from the heroine’s point of view, but sometimes I want to let the reader
know what the hero is thinking, so I’ll write a chapter or two from his perspective. Sometimes I’ll
even write an entire book from the hero’s perspective.
I often write in first person. However, sometimes I feel that the third person perspective is more
appropriate for a scene, chapter, or even a book.
Usually my couple doesn’t kiss until I’m several chapters in. Then again, I’m not opposed to the
opening scene including a kiss.
Sometimes I feel the need to have a strong theological thread running through the story. Other
times, I only sprinkle theology in a few scenes or chapters.
Some of my novels end up being twenty-‐five or thirty chapters long, yet sometimes I write one
much shorter than that.
What I’m trying to say is that rule number one for me as a writer is that the story comes first.
Initially, I’ll spend some time getting to know the characters, and since not all characters are
the same, not all of their stories are going to turn out the same. I try to be as organic as
possible with my writing process. I try not to limit myself on things I know I should or shouldn’t
technically do. I develop a story (and usually a solid outline) but I try to be as flexible as
possible with my journey from chapter one to chapter, well, whatever. Along the way, I may even
collect an anecdote, story, or theological concept that I feel fits perfectly with the tale, and
I’ll add it.
The whole idea is to make the reader understand and appreciate the love story I want to get across.
The words I write are meant to help you as a reader get to know
my characters. They’re not to impress you with flowery descriptions or clever
phrasing. They’re not written with the desire to win a prestigious literary award. I
learned early on that those sorts of goals do nothing but get in the way of the story I want to
tell. I try to “taste my soup” as I go just to make sure I’m representing the characters the way I
intended, but I definitely don’t follow a specific recipe. I write love stories with family values
about down-‐to-‐earth characters, which is what comes naturally to me.
So how do you go from following every technical rule (or measuring every ingredient) to finding
your voice as a writer? I’m sure that is different for everyone, but for me it comes down to
passion. I am first and foremost a lover and student of romance. I am an avid reader who loves
nothing more than a good boy meets girl, and they fall in love story. Love stories get me going,
and I am absolutely passionate about them. It makes sense that when you have true ardor for
something, you spend a lot of time studying it, and that’s exactly what I do. I study love stories
in any capacity, whether they’re in a book, on a screen, or happening in real life. I love nothing
more than to see a couple holding hands or exchanging a quick kiss on the sidewalk. It makes me
smile to see the kiss cam at a baseball game or witness someone’s proposal at a restaurant.
I love romance novels like a chef loves food. I am passionate about the story I want to tell, and I
find that I work best when I don’t give myself rules in the way I tell it. I am completely aware
that my approach and technique (or maybe lack thereof) won’t resonate with every single person on
the planet, but hey, that’s what makes it
art. My art is Christian romance, and my style varies with every story I tell.
BROOKE ST. JAMES’ LATEST NOVEL
To read Brooke’s latest novel, CALIFORNIA’S CALLING, please go to:
ABOUT BROOKE ST. JAMES
Brooke St. James is an author of contemporary romance novels with Christian and
inspirational themes and happy endings. She was born and raised in south Louisiana but has had the
opportunity to travel and live throughout the U.S. An avid reader, writer, audio book addict, and
fan of all things artistic, Brooke constantly has her hands in some creative activity. She’s
currently back home in Louisiana enjoying life with her husband, children, and extremely lazy
To find out more about Brooke visit her Facebook page at:
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You can find more of Brooke’s novels at her website: http://www.brookesaintjames.com